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At a Glance: Corsair Ironclaw RGB Wireless Review

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Based on Corsair’s Ironclaw RGB, the Ironclaw RGB Wireless enters the market with an overall similar design that also has a few notable changes. First and foremost is the feature that gives this mouse its name: It has a built-in battery and can be used wirelessly. Corsair also equipped the mouse with a few extra buttons that make it feel somewhat different from the original Ironclaw RGB.

Design

For a product with RGB literally spelled out in its name, this gaming mouseSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce has surprisingly few LED lights. There are a couple of RGB LED light zones on the mouse’s front; one below the scroll wheel, and the Corsair emblem on the palm rest is illuminated with RGB LED lights. There are a couple of lights on the left side of the mouse as well, but these indicate which settings configuration you’re currently using. Most of these lights won’t be visible when the mouse is in use, which makes it a poor choice if you are looking for a mouse that’s a real light show.

At the heart of this mouse rests a Pixart PMW3391 optical sensor that carries an 18,000 DPI rating. This offers higher precision than the Pixart PMW3367 inside the Corsair’s Dark Core RGB SE wireless mouse, and it also carries a better DPI rating than Logitech’s G502 Lightspeed mouse.

The traditional left- and right-click buttons on this mouse use Omron switches that are more responsive than traditional mouse buttons and can last for up to 50 million clicks. This mouse also has a clickable scroll wheel, two DPI buttons directly below the scroll wheel, and five buttons on the left side. All of these buttons can be programmed to perform any function you desire.

Corsair designed the Ironclaw RGB Wireless with a large exterior shell that should fit large hands more comfortably than your average mouse. Mike Epstein indicated in his PCMag review that the overall design felt good to him and that his fingers fell naturally onto the buttons, but as it is one of the larger gaming mice on the market, you should consider something else if you have small hands.

The Corsair Ironclaw RGB Wireless comes with a USB 2.4GHz Wi-Fi sensor that uses Corsair’s Slipstream technology. The company indicates this should enable the mouse to work with a latency of less than 1ms and give it an advantage over Corsair’s Dark Core RGB SE when using the wireless key. It also works over Bluetooth, as well as in wired mode when connected to the USB charging cable. Unlike the Dark Core RGB SE, the Ironclaw RGB Wireless doesn’t support wireless charging.

Conclusion

WIth a competitive feature set and an $ 80 price tag, the Ironclaw RGB Wireless is a strong option for anyone shopping for a wireless gaming mouse. As it lacks wireless charging, it may not be the best solution for everyone.

Logitech’s G502 Lightspeed offers similar performance features and it includes wireless charging, though that mouse is also significantly more expensive at $ 149.99. Corsair’s Dark Core RGB SE is also a strong alternative that features wireless charging and it is currently on sale for $ 69.99, but the wireless charging pad will set you back an extra $ 79.99. All things considered, the Ironclaw RGB Wireless remains a strong option.

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At a Glance: Logitech G502 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse Review

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In this review, we take a look at Logitech’s G502 Lightspeed wireless gaming mouse, an innovative high-performance gaming mouse with support for wireless charging. For PC gamers, a high-performance gaming mouse is equally as important as having a fast graphics card or CPU. Technically, any old mouse will allow you to play a game. But a proper gaming mouse will have better performance and give you an edge while playing with friends online.

What makes a good gaming mouse is heavily debated amongst PC gamers, however, with one of the more argued points surrounding wireless gaming mice. Some see wireless gaming miceSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce as superior because they don’t have a cable to drag around, whereas other people feel wireless mice are inferior due to their ability to suddenly die from a low battery and the increased latency caused by wireless communication with PC. The Logitech G502 Lightspeed, with its wireless charging system, offers a possible solution to these problems, but at a price that you may find unsavory.

Overview of Features

The Logitech G502 Lightspeed uses a Hero 16K optical sensor that is capable of reading over 400 IPS. It also has a DPI rating of 16,000, and Logitech noted that it has up to 10 times the efficiency of its last-gen products.

The right-hand oriented mouse weighs in at 4 ounces (114g), but this can be increased to 4.6 ounces (130g) if like me you prefer a mouse with a bit more heft to it. The mouse also has two RGB LED light zones that can be adjusted to a number of different light patterns to suit your taste. Logitech also equipped this mouse with a total of 11 buttons, all of which are fully programmable including the primary mouse buttons.

The G502 Lightspeed takes advantage of Logitech’s Lightspeed wireless technology to achieve a connection with exceptionally low lag. It can also be used as a wired gaming mouse if you simply connect it using the USB charging cable.

To take full advantage of this mouse you will need to also purchase Logitech’s PowerPlay mouse pad, which retails for $ 99.99. This rather expensive mouse pad is what makes the G502 Lightspeed really stand out against the competition, as it doubles as both a wireless charging platform and a wireless receiver. This means that the mouse will never die when used in conjunction with the PowerPlay mouse pad, as it will always be charging as long as you don’t lift it up off the counter too far. It will also have significantly improved wireless performance as the distance between the transmitter and receiver is reduced to the point where they are essentially touching, which means that the signals have less distance to travel and there isn’t anything between them to potentially block the transmission.

Conclusion

PCMag reports that in testing, the mouse was exceptionally comfortable to use, and the reviewer didn’t encounter any noteworthy bugs while using the mouse. He also listed that you couldn’t see the RGB LED lights directly while the mouse was in use as a con, but I don’t personally agree with this, as the same can be said about almost all RGB LED mice.

If we add in a quick look at some other competing products, such as Corsair’s Dark Core RGB SE, it’s noteworthy that the Logitech G502 falls a little behind. Not only is this mouse half the price of Logitech G502, but it also supports wireless charging on a less expensive $ 79.99 mouse pad and a similarly high-end 16,000 DPI optical sensor. Things get worse for Logitech in this comparison when you consider that the Dark Core RGB SE also supports both Bluetooth and 2.4G Wi-Fi wireless connections. There may not be anything actually wrong with the Logitech G502, but its price is considerably higher than we would like to see, and this seems unjustified in a head-on specs comparison.

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ET Deals: Dell Core i7 Laptop $649, Seagate 2TB External HDD $59, Apple AirPods w/ Wireless Charging Case $179

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School’s out for summer, but that’s only for so long. If you are headed to college in the fall or have a child in high school, now’s an excellent time to pick up some new tech to help get them through their classes. Our first deal today, Dell’s Inspiron 15 5000, is also an excellent system for anyone that needs a new computer to replace an aging laptop that’s been slowing them down.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Intel Core i7-8565U 15.6-Inch Notebook w/ 1080p Display, 256GB NVMe SSD and 8GB RAM ($ 649.99)

Dell’s Inspiron 15 5000 was designed as a well-rounded solution for students, office workers, and home use. It features a capable Hyper-Threaded quad-core Intel Core i7-8565U processor that can run at speeds of up to 4.6GHz. Right now with promo code 50OFF699, you can get this system from Dell marked down from $ 818.99 to $ 649.99.

Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Portable HDD ($ 59.00)

External HDDs like Seagate’s Backup Plus Slim external drive are excellent devices for moving files from one system to another. As this product’s name suggests, it’s also an excellent place to save backup copies of your files to help avoid their loss in the event of a hard drive failure. Enclosed inside of a durable aluminum shell, this drive is able to withstand a fair amount of abuse before breaking, and the 2TB drive can transfer data at speeds of up to 120 MB/s. Today, Amazon is offering this drive marked down from $ 79.99 to just $ 59.00.

Apple AirPods w/ Wireless Charging Case ($ 179.99)

This set of Apple’s AirPods comes with a wireless charging case. Simply set the earbuds into the case whenever you are finished using them and they will automatically start charging. They also have support for Siri to quickly access your iPhone, and they can last for over 24 hours while listening to music. Amazon is offering these AirPods currently marked down from $ 199.00 to $ 179.99.

Hyundai 480GB Sapphire SATA-III 2.5-Inch SSD ($ 45.99)

Hyundai doesn’t just want to sell you a faster car, it also wants to help make your PC faster by upgrading it with an SSD. This isn’t the fastest SSD on the market, with read speeds of 500MB/s and write speeds at a meager 300MB/s. But if you are still using a hard drive as your C: Drive, this will give you a significant boost in performance. Currently, it’s marked down from $ 149.99 to $ 45.99 at Walmart.

Razer Phone 2 Unlocked Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Smartphone w/ 120Hz QHD Display, 8GB RAM, 64GB Storage ($ 499.99)

Razer’s second smartphone is well equipped to run the latest Android-based video games. It features a remarkably fast 120Hz QHD display and a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC. To increase gaming performance, Razer also equipped this phone with a special passive cooling solution with vapor chambers that helps to keep the CPU and GPU running at peak performance. The phone also comes with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage space. It’s currently marked down from $ 799.99 to just $ 499.99.

Dell Inspiron 5676 Ryzen 7 2700x Gaming Desktop w/ AMD Radeon RX 580 GPU, 256GB M.2 SSD, 1TB HDD and 16GB DDR4 RAM ($ 699.99)

Dell has sharply slashed the price on this well-equipped gaming desktop, dropping its price all the way from $ 1,378.99 down to $ 849.99 with promo code 50OFF699. The powerful AMD Ryzen 7 2700X processor at the heart of this system has eight SMT enabled CPU cores that are clocked up to 4.3 GHz, and this system is also equipped with one of AMD’s Radeon RX 580 graphics cards with 4GB of GDDR5. Working together, this hardware should be capable of running a wide range of games with midrange settings.

Note: Terms and conditions apply. See the relevant retail sites for more information. For more great deals, go to our partners at TechBargains.com.

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Logitech’s G502 Lightspeed Adds Wireless to Beloved Gaming Mouse

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If you talk to a serious gamer, there’s a good chance they’re using a Logitech G502 Hero mouse. This wired mouse has been a mainstay of the PC gamingSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce community for years, and now it’s going wireless. The G502 Lightspeed keeps most of what made the G502 so widely beloved, but it adds all of Logitech’s latest wireless technology.

At first glance, you might not notice anything different about the G502 Lightspeed compared to the wired version (aside from the lack of a USB cable). Logitech apparently wanted to keep the new mouse as close as possible to the G502 Hero. People are fanatical about that mouse — everything from the button placement to weight distribution was important. It has 11 customizable buttons and DPI that scaled between 100 and 16,000 DPI.

Logitech had to redesign the internals of the G502 to fit its custom wireless technologies inside. That naturally threw off the weight, making the G502 Lightspeed lighter than the wired version. To counter that, Logitech includes 16 grams of additional weight in the form of two 4-gram and two 2-gram disks. These slot into the bottom of the mouse to give you just the right mass.

As the name implies, the G502 Lightspeed features Logitech’s proprietary Lightspeed wireless interface. Wireless mice have a reputation for being slower than wired, but Logitech says Lightspeed is the other way around. It offers sub-1ms latency via the included USB dongle. If it’s anything like Logitech’s other Lightspeed mice, the G502 should perform just as well as a wired mouse without the cord dragging you down.

The second wireless technology in the G502 Lightspeed will require an additional investment. It works with PowerPlay, the wireless charging system that debuted in 2017. It comes with a receiver that fits into the bottom of the mouse so you’ll never need to plug the mouse in again. The PowerPlay mouse pad charges the mouse as you use it, keeping the batter between 80 and 90 percent charged at all times. If you’re ever away from your PowerPlay mat, the mouse has a standard micro USB port where the cable connects to the wired G502.

The G502 Lightspeed costs $ 150, the same as Logitech’s other high-end wireless mice. That’s a significant premium over the reliable wired G502. If you want to take advantage of the PowerPlay wireless charging, you’ll need to pick up that kit for another $ 100. You can pre-order the mouse now, and it’ll ship in the coming weeks. 

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HTC Acknowledges Vive Wireless Isn’t Working With AMD Hardware, Offers Refunds

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When we talk about AMD and Intel hardware, there’s a general assumption that outside issues that touch on the CPU, performance, and compatibility should both be broadly equivalent. This is not to say identical — different chipset vendors will produce peripherals that maintain different levels of absolute performance, with AMD licensing critical chipset components from Asmedia, while Intel builds its own designs (not counting what third-party manufacturers may integrate into the boards themselves). It’s been a long time since we’ve had to warn people not to combine certain peripherals with other hardware. The gold standard example for this kind of problem is the legendary VIA 686b southbridge bug that caused irretrievable data loss in RAID arrays if you were foolish enough to use a PCI-based Soundblaster Live (one of the most common sound cards at that time) with a VIA VT82C686B southbridge, which VIA tapped for both its Intel and AMD motherboards back in 2001.

Today’s news, thankfully, is nowhere near that bad, but it’s still kind of strange. When HTC shipped its wireless module for the Vive in late September, the peripheral was snapped up by both Ryzen and Intel VR owners who wanted a chance to game without wires getting in the way. THG’s initial review of the adapter noted their problems getting the hardware working on AMD systems, but their Intel testbed wasn’t exactly a perfect experience, either. It was generally assumed that these issues would be resolved by software updates. This may still happen, but nearly two months later the delay is pushing out enough that HTC has apparently started offering Ryzen owners a refund.

HTC confirmed it is “looking into multiple reports of Ryzen incompatibility with the Vive Wireless Adapter,” and is “working with multiple component manufacturers to find the root cause,” Tom’s Hardware reports. It is not known, at this time, what would be causing these issues or why the company hasn’t been able to isolate or find them after two months of work. It’s obvious that AMD wasn’t on HTC’s radar when developing the headset; THG’s testing makes it clear that the Ryzen platform fundamentally couldn’t maintain playable frame rates with the wireless adapter enabled for reasons that were unclear. wireless-hero-mThe issue seems likely to be on HTC’s end or caused by the interplay of driver settings between what’s expected behavior between two different system components. This kind of low-level problem can take time to run down, though it’s still disappointing to see HTC essentially saying it has no timeframe or ETA for any kind of fix. Offering a refund is the right move, but AMD gamers deserve hardware that supports their platforms as robustly as they’d support Intel.

If we had to guess, we’d guess that this kind of issue is a lingering reflection of AMD’s long absence from the gaming market. Ryzen wasn’t even in-market when the Vive launched, and the majority of its user-base is likely on Intel hardware. With AMD gaining market share in desktops, Ryzen support is going to matter more in future cycles, but HTC may have overlooked the need to bring up its hardware on both platforms, particularly given the company’s long-term financial issues and other problems.

Anyone who bought a Vive wireless adapter and wants to return it should contact Vive Custom Support at vive_care@vive.com. Purchases from Vive or HTC retail partners will be accepted, provided you provide proof of purchase and the representative confirms you have a Ryzen PC. As for when the fix should be available, the only guidance from HTC is that the solution will “take time.”

Now Read: Hands On With the HTC Vive Pro: Raising the Bar for VR Headsets, Oculus Co-Founder: VR Wouldn’t Go Mass Market If You Gave It Away for Free, and HTC Opens Viveport Subscription Service to Oculus Rift Owners

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MIT Develops Water-to-Air Wireless Communication

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You can wirelessly communicate with people on the other side of the world in real time, but it’s still impossible for a submarine to talk to an airplane. They both use systems designed for their environment, and those systems aren’t compatible. At least, they weren’t until now. Researchers from MIT have developed a technology to link the underwater world with the open air.

Most wireless communication on earth happens via radio waves, which propagate easily through the air. However, they dissipate quickly after hitting the water. Meanwhile, submarines and other underwater device rely on sonar — sound waves that can travel through water over long distances. These two systems normally don’t connect. Fadel Adib and Francesco Tonolini of MIT Media Lab have created an interlink called Translational Acoustic-RF communication, or TARF.

The system consists of two parts. On the underwater side, there’s a speaker that pumps out sound (similar to sonar). These pressure waves expand outward until they reach the surface. It can use different frequencies to transmit data. For example, a 0 could be a wave in the 100Hz range, and a 1 could be a 200Hz wave.

The sound waves cause minuscule vibrations as they break the surface, but these ripples are just a few micrometers in height. This is usually where the disconnect would happen, but the team built a special radar apparatus that beams signals onto the water’s surface in the millimeter wave range between 30 and 300 gigahertz. This is the same frequency range that will form the backbone of 5G mobile networks. The signals bounce back to the radar cones, but vibrations from sound waves reaching the surface cause small modulations in the signal. By decoding these signals, TARF can assemble the message sent by the underwater speaker.

TARF can support higher data rates by transmitting multiple signals at the same time, using a technique called orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing. This allows a single burst of sound to carry hundreds of bits of data, and the radar receiver is surprisingly good at reading that. The team tested TARF in a water tank and a swimming pool with active swimmers. Even small waves in the surface can be thousands of times larger than the vibrations TARF reads, but the frequency of these waves is much lower. The researchers developed a system that zeroes in on the high frequency, low amplitude signals and filters out everything else.

Early tests have been successful, but TARF is currently limited to a few meters of separation. The team hopes that TARF could eventually let underwater vehicles and sensors communicate with aircraft as they fly overhead.

Now read: With MIT’s new imaging tech, now you can judge a book right through the coverYour next car’s backup camera could detect moving and stationary hazards, and The world’s first acoustic invisibility cloak has been created by Duke University

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Ford, Qualcomm to Test C-V2X Wireless Safety Signaling

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What technology is both fast enough and cheap enough for cars to warn each other about highway conditions and hazards? That’s the purpose of a connected car test later this year in San Diego, involving a half-dozen big-time tech players and C-V2X, or cellular vehicle-to-everything communications. AT&T, Ford, Nokia, Qualcomm Technologies and others will test, among other things, how much C-V2X can do directly communicating with vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and roadside infrastructure such as traffic signs or construction zones.

Who’s Doing What, Where, and Why

Even without much government involvement, this tale is crammed with buzzwords (synergies, facilitators) and acronyms up the wazoo. We’ll translate as we go along, and keep it simple. This is a test using three things:

  • Ford cars. Ford has been quiet lately on autonomous driving, but it’s out front here;
  • AT&T cellular data service. AT&T has much of the car telematics market now, not Verizon;
  • Nokia computing technology using the emerging Qualcomm 9150 C-V2X chipset, which integrates communications that are both direct (to pedestrians, other cars) and network-based.

This all makes it V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure), V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle), and V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian, or cyclist).

The Qualcomm chipset will be available in sample quantities to suppliers and automakers in in 2018, the company said. It could be in 2020 model cars, meaning as little as two years from now.

Testing will take place at the San Diego Regional Proving Ground (SANDAG) working with ITS (intelligent transportation solutions) provider McCain, Inc. SANDAG one of 10 automated vehicle proving grounds in the US. C-V2X is defined as an extension of global cellular standards by the 3GPP, or Third Generation Partnership Project.

Testing will support C-V2X in the 5.9 GHz ITS (intelligent transportation solutions) spectrum, including do-not-pass warnings, intersection movement assist, and left-turn assist. The AT&T cellular network and Nokia cloud infrastructure would provide real-time map updates and event notifications, such as a big sports event letting out or a bridge closure.

Use cases for C-V2X (cellular – vehicle-to-everything) (Source: Qualcomm)

Complementary or Competetive?

According to Qualcomm, “[C-V2X is] complementary to other Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) sensors, such as cameras, radar, and LIDAR […] C-V2X technology is designed to support 360-degree non-line-of-sight awareness, and is designed to extend a vehicle’s ability to see, hear, and understand the environment down the road, at blind intersections, or in bad weather conditions.”

In other words, the car(s) ahead of you will report on problems, so you can slow down or take other measures. The system will also have value for autonomous cars, showing them what’s changed in real-time compared with the on-board maps they have.

Wireless communications among cars will save lives. Proponents say it could be four-fifths of those accidents that don’t involve impaired drivers, say 10,000 to 15,000 out of the 32,000 motor vehicle accidents a year. The Qualcomm-AT&T-Ford et al alliance is asking regulatory bodies to keep an open mind (i.e., don’t shut them out) while considering what kinds of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) radio systems cars would need.

The testing will show the rest of the industry what C-V2X offers, and how well it deals with latency (lag) by prioritizing traffic messages on the network. The Qualcomm consortium says that by 2021, the majority of vehicles will have embedded cellular hardware and connectivity.

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iPhone X Rollout Means In-Car Wireless Charging Will Be Standard (Eventually)

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Apple’s newest iPhones all support wireless charging, and that means automakers will move to make this a standard across most of their fleets. Never mind that dozens of Android phones already embed wireless charging. Overnight, Apple made it a standard.

US automakers have deployed, slowly, wireless charging in their cars as far back as 2013, on a handful of models. Some existing charging mats or stands may not support the Qi standard that is quickly becoming the de facto standard.

BMW wireless charging.

What Apple Announced

Apple announced three phones: the high-end iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone Ten”) celebrating Apple’s 10th anniversary and the first time Apple is asking $ 999 for a base phone; and the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which are enhancements to the 7 and big-screen 7 Plus. All three, plus the new Apple Watch and Apple EarPods, embed wireless charging using the Qi standard. Qi is Chinese for “energy flow” and pronounced “chee.”

Qi and its supporting group, the Wireless Power Consortium, were the comfortable leaders before Apple’s announcement this week. That makes things tougher for Powermat and the Power Matters Alliance, which joined forces with the Alliance for Wireless Power to create the AirFuel Alliance.

Apple will bring out a new AirPower mat for charging larger devices such as phones, but that’s not until next year. For sure, the accessories industry will get there quicker with tabletop mats, charging stands holding phones near vertical for ease of reading, and in-car mats that will fit in many existing cars. There are already charging cases with Qi support embedded and a couple case-Qi-external battery packs.

Chrysler wireless charging. They’ve had it since 2013.

Apple Empowers Automakers to Move Forward

In-car wireless charging mats or stands have been in cars since the 2013 Dodge Dart. The number has risen since then, more so on higher-end cars. BMW, for instance, makes Qi standard on the 7 Series, 6 Series, and M cars, none of which cost less than $ 53,000. Automakers had delayed going with wireless charging across the board because, they said, it was uncertain who would win. In reality, Qi has been the leader for some time, some phones supported both standards, and it’s possible to create higher-cost mats than handle both. PowerMat has had support in business markets. It was embedded in tables at Starbucks, because it’s possible to log usage, although some Starbucks have been adding Qi chargers, too.

The upshot: Automakers now see there’s just a single standard to support. Automakers will probably do the same accounting-driven rollout as they did with USB — meaning putting it mostly in high-end vehicles to start, not offering enough charging stations, maybe offering it in weird combo packages, such as a front-seat Qi charger, moonroof, and leather seating surfaces. Only now, for instance, is it possible to get six USB jacks in a handful of vehicles (the Chevrolet Equinox, for example), which is the right number given that some passengers carry a phone and tablet.

On higher-end cars and those where the ads show four adults heading out the evening, you should hope for two USB jacks in back and/or a wireless charger in the rear center armrest once automakers gear up for Qi. Recall that the USB audio/charging connector has been around going on 20 years, and yet still there are cars with CD players. Change can be slow.

Asus, Blackberry, Google, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Saygus, Sony, Techdy, Vertu and Yotaphone all have Qi-compatible phones. Now, Apple too.

What the Customer Can Do

If you have an Android phone, you may have Qi embedded already. You can put a Qi conversion case on an existing iPhone or get a freestanding charging ring that attaches to the Lightning connector. Or wait for the new iPhones.

If you’re buying a new car right now with integrated charging, make sure it works with your phone. Understand that it may charge more slowly than using a current wall charger. Here’s how to understand if you’re getting enough power: Recall from high school physics class that volts (direct current, what cars use) times amps equals watts. 5 volts (what USB outputs and what a charger probably uses) times 1 amp equals 5 watts. 5 volts times 2 amps equals 10 watts, and that’s what virtually every tablet uses, as well as many of the larger smartphones. If the charger supplies 10 watts, fine. If it’s just 5 watts, your phone may charge slowly.

A couple automakers have a designated holder for the phone, not just an area where you loosely drop the phone. The holder may also have an inductive coupler to the car’s external antenna, giving you much better signal quality.

Here are some automakers we know that have wireless charging on at least some of their cars:

  • Audi
  • BMW, Mini
  • Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep
  • Ford
  • Hyundai, Genesis, Kia
  • Jaguar
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Toyota, Lexus

Qi in the Home, Office, Dorm

Dozens of Qi chargers exist already, so there’s no need to wait for Apple’s charging mat. They cost as little as $ 10-$ 20. If you also want a protective phone case, you can retrofit a legacy Apple iPhone with a Qi case for as little as $ 25.

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DARPA Picks Dream Teams to Develop Wireless Brain Interface

Last summer we reported on a new project called the Neural Engineering System Design (NESD), brought to you by the acronym-happy spooks at DARPA. The project is to create an implantable, wireless, wideband brain-computer interface capable of reading from neurons as well as “writing” to them by sending signals that the neurons accept. The device is called the Neural Input-Output Bus (NIOB). Now DARPA has picked six dream-team research groups that will split $ 65 million in funding to develop the NIOB by way of their respective goals.

The NESD program aims to develop advanced neural devices that offer improved fidelity, resolution, and precision sensory interfaces for therapeutic applications, said Phillip Alvelda, the founding NESD Program Manager. “By increasing the capacity of advanced neural interfaces to engage more than one million neurons in parallel, NESD aims to enable rich two-way communication with the brain at a scale that will help deepen our understanding of that organ’s underlying biology, complexity, and function,” he said in a statement.

The NESD group includes a team each from Brown, Columbia, and UC Berkeley, as well as Silicon Valley startup Paradromics, a research presence from the Fondation Voir et Entendre, and a team from the John B. Pierce Laboratory.

The NIOB device will act as a “cortical modem” that will be capable of recording and stimulating brain activity with an effective data rate of over 1Gbps. The different research groups are using different interfaces, including tissue-thin flexible circuits, wireless “neurograins” the size of a grain of sand, holographic microscopes capable of monitoring thousands of neurons at once, and even a net of LEDs covering the cortex. But they’ll all be capable of doing sensory I/O.

Paradromics, for its part, intends to build a device that can function as a speech prosthetic. “Together with our public and private partners we will be providing the NIOB to patients with ALS who have lost the ability to speak, allowing them to communicate fluently through the aid of the implant,” the company said in a statement.

The Paradromics device will record signals from the superior temporal gyrus, a region of the brain that decodes speech by parsing the audio stream into phonemes. The device design is a brushlike implant made of bundled nanowires, reminiscent of fiber-optic cables, where each fiber in the brush would interact with (ideally) a single neuron. The end of each fiber is finely shaped and polished, and the bundle is also carefully shaped to budge neurons apart without doing too much damage.

NESD project specs demand that whatever the use case, the whole package should take up about a cubic centimeter: in their words, the volume of two nickels back to back.

The data throughput afforded by such a device is a function of how well we understand the idioms in the electrochemical language of the brain. And indeed, DARPA’s description page for the project explains, successfully developing a device like this will require “integrated breakthroughs across numerous disciplines including neuroscience, synthetic biology, low-power electronics, photonics, medical device packaging and manufacturing, systems engineering, and clinical testing.”

NIOB is scheduled to go to clinical trials in 2021. But the implications are much wider than just the hardware and software developments. MIT Tech Review points out that if the project is successful, the resulting theory and tech will also expand the ability of neuroscientists to listen in as groups of neurons generate complex behaviors, knit together sensory stimuli, and even create consciousness itself. It will also clearly result in a legal battle when the FBI and/or CIA demand warrantless wiretap authority and inbuilt backdoors. These modern times.

For more, we’ve previously covered the semantic atlas that shows where and how your brain stores the meanings of words. Parsing the audio stream that we hear into phonemes comes before parsing phonemes into words and their semantic meanings.

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