Daimler India’s truck company records profit for first time; to launch 52 vehicles in 2019

Six years after setting foot in India, Daimler AG’s truck and bus making company recorded yearly profits for the first time last year. With sales growth of 35 percent, 2018 was also the best year for the company since starting sales operations in 2012.

This is considered to be a thorough turnaround for Daimler considering only four years earlier the company was declared financially sick after a massive erosion in its net worth in 2014. Company officials declined to give details of the profit.

The turnaround also comes at a time when two of Europe’s biggest truck and bus brands — MAN and Scania — shut operations in India after unsustainable losses. Volkswagen Group firm MAN shut India operations while another group company Scania halted its bus making operations, both in 2018.

Satyakam Arya, Managing Director and CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles said, “2018 was the best year in the young history of our company and for BharatBenz our focus on profitable growth continues to pay off. Profitability will be a sustained focus in each of the coming years.”

Daimler India sells BharatBenz range of medium and heavy (MHCV) trucks besides Mercedes-Benz range of intercity luxury coaches. Two other brands Mitsubishi-Fuso and Freightliner also get manufactured in Chennai. India hosts Daimler’s only plant in the world where the four brands are manufactured.

In the domestic market, DICV recorded growth of 35 percent with sales of 22,532 units as against 16,717 units sold in 2017, which is when the company had recorded 28 percent growth. Continued focus on new launches and expansion in retail touch points has helped DICV beat the industry.

Indian operations are also now the fifth biggest in the world for Daimler after the US, Indonesia, Japan and Germany. The company has products that compete against the market leader Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra & Mahindra and VE Commercial Vehicles (an Eicher Motors, Volvo joint venture) in the medium and heavy commercial segment.

“Last year, we did 27 launches. This year we will do 52. We increased our touch points to 182 last year from 134 in 2017. We want to double it to 350 which will allow us to have a touch point every 100 kms up from the current 250kms”, Arya said.

Exports have also played a crucial role in turning around operations for the company. Last year saw a growth of 8 percent in exports to 7,054 trucks as compared to 6,553 trucks exported in 2017. DICV exports to 50 countries in including those in Africa, Latin America, Middle East.

The last two quarters have been tough for the CV makers with sales falling in double digits. Sales of MHCV models of Tata Motors, for instance, slumped by 24 percent in November, 22 percent in December and by in 9 percent in January.As for the industry MHCV (goods carrying) segment reported a rise of 23 percent, as per data supplied by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Samsung SDS, IBM collaborate to strengthen Open Source Hyperledger Fabric

During IBM THINK 2019, IBM’s annual conference focused on technology and business, Samsung SDS announced it is continuing its collaboration with IBM in support of advancing Hyperledger Fabric, an open source cross-industry blockchain technology, with recent code contributions, research, and a new white paper.

As a contributor to Hyperledger Fabric, Samsung SDS is working to improve fabric capabilities and actively contributing its new “Accelerator” code to the open source community. The new code is expected to significantly improve Hyperledger Fabric performance for specific use cases.

Samsung SDS is also making a new white paper available, “Accelerating Throughput in Permissioned Blockchain Networks,” co-written by IBM. The paper validates the applicability of Accelerator to Hyperledger Fabric, provides a roadmap and also illustrates performance improvement in terms of transactions per second.

While this technical initiative is being rigorously validated from the open source Hyperledger community, Samsung SDS will prepare to become IBM’s key go-to-market reseller partner of IBM Blockchain Platform in Korea.Ted Kim, Vice President, Blockchain Team from Samsung SDS America has been named to the IBM Blockchain Board of Advisors.

NASA mulls buying new rides to space from Russia amid programme delays

Representative Image

Representative Image

NASA said on February 15 it was weighing an option to buy two additional astronaut seats aboard a Russian rocket as a contingency plan against further delays in the launch systems being developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing Co.

A possible purchase “provides flexibility and back-up capability” as the companies build rocket-and-capsule launch systems to return astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from US soil for the first time since NASA’s Space Shuttle program went dark in 2011.

The US space agency has since had to rely on Russia’s Roscosmos program to ferry astronauts to the orbital space station at a cost of roughly $80 million per seat, NASA has said.

After 2019 there are no seats available on the spacecraft for US crew, and a NASA advisory panel recommended on February 15 that the US space program develop a contingency plan to guarantee access to the station in case technical problems delay Boeing and SpaceX any further.

A NASA spokesman on February 15 characterized a solicitation request NASA filed on Wednesday as a contingency plan. NASA said it could buy a seat for one astronaut in the fall and another seat in the spring of 2020.

“The absence of US crew members at any point would diminish ISS operations to an inoperable state,” NASA wrote in its solicitation on Wednesday.

NASA awarded $6.8 billion to SpaceX, founded by Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk, and aerospace giant Boeing to develop separate launch systems to fly astronauts to space, but both companies have faced technical challenges and delays.

NASA announced another slip last week, citing concerns for both contractors such as the need to complete hardware testing and other factors. The US space agency said SpaceX was now targeting March 2 instead of Feb. 23 for its un-crewed Crew Dragon test flight, with its astronaut flight coming in July.

NASA said Boeing’s un-crewed CST-100 Starliner would fly no sooner than April, with Boeing’s crewed mission is currently slated for August.”Typically, problems will be discovered during these test flights,” NASA wrote.

Oculus Rift S VR Headset to Come With Inside-Out Tracking

Oculus Rift S VR Headset to Come With Inside-Out Tracking: Report

Though the VR hype isn’t what it used to be, Oculus is still going strong with improving tech that also makes the entry barrier lower and lower. A big example of that is building tracking right into the headset as we had earlier seen with the Oculus Rift. Now according to a leak it may seem that the next-generation Oculus Rift headset may be called the ‘Rift S’. The S would stand for the new inside-out tracking capabilities of the headset.

Originally reported by by Upload VR, new filenames were found in the Oculus’ PC application to support the new Rift S name. The report also claims that the new version of the application’s user interface code suggests that the unit will come with an in-built system of cameras and sensors.

With an inside-out tracking camera users will be able to position themselves along with their bodies into the 3D space without the use of external cameras or trackers. This makes it a lot easier to set up a VR system at some without accessory or cable clutter. This adds the possibility to carry the headset around to other locations and painlessly set it up.

It’s not mentioned whether the system will be wireless, but the possibility seems less likely as the Rift S is also reported to come with a better display resolution.

What can be confirmed is that it will definitely need an external computer for processing the images. A true wireless experience is not too far away as the company is also working on its wireless VR headset, Oculus Quest. For a more budget-friendly option there’s still Oculus Go.

Anker Nebula Capsule Portable Projector With 360-Degree Surround Sound Launched in India

Anker Nebula Capsule Portable Projector With 360-Degree Surround Sound Launched in India

Anker on Wednesday launched the Nebula Capsule, the company’s portable projector that comes with a 360-degree surround sound. There are 5W speakers to produce an immersive audio experience. The mini projector also enables screen mirroring via AirPlay and Miracast and is claimed to be capable of producing images in as big as 100 inches size. The Nebula Capsule runs Android 7.1 Nougat to enable video streaming from any compatible app. Further, there is a DLP Technology that uses IntelliBright algorithms to deliver 100 ANSI lumens of picture quality. The projector is claimed to project the picture on any surface, including the ceiling and bedsheets.

Using Android 7.1 Nougat, the Anker Nebula Capsule can run a large number of apps, including Netflix and YouTube – without requiring connection with a smartphone. There is also DLP Technology that is touted to enable the mini projector to project the picture on any surface. Anker has also provided wireless casting support to enable the device to mirror content directly from a mobile device. The device essentially has AirPlay and Miracast support for mirroring content.

There is a 0.2-inch FWVGA (854×480 pixels) DLP display technology, and the Anker Nebula Capsule has a lamp life of 30,000 hours. Also, the aspect ratio of the projector is 16:9. There are manual focus adjustment and auto keystone correction. Plus, the projector supports front, rear, front ceiling, and rear ceiling projection modes.

The Anker Nebula Capsule comes with a built-in, 5,200mAh battery that is rated to deliver up to four hours of continuous video playback on a single charge. Also, there is Quick Charge support to enable a fast charging experience.

To make the Nebula Capsule operable through mobile devices, there is a dedicated Nebula Connect app available on the App Store and Google Play. The device has a quad-core processor, 1GB DDR3 SDRAM, Adreno 304 GPU, and 8GB onboard storage. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI 1.4, and Micro-USB port with USB OTG support. Lastly, the projector measures a height of 4.72 inches and a diameter of 2.67 inches.

The Anker Nebula Capsule is already available for purchase through Amazon.in with a price tag of Rs. 31,999. It is also on sale through various retail stores across the country.

To recall, Anker unveiled the Nebula Capsule II at CES 2019 last month with Android TV 9.0. The successor to the original Nebula Capsule is also designed to project 720p resolution along with brightness of 200 ANSI lumens. There is also Google Assistant support as well as a Chromecastintegration.

Having said that, Anker hasn’t revealed any details on the India availability of the Nebula Capsule II.

Microsoft HoloLens 2 Launch on February 24 Teased by Original Headset’s Creator

MWC 2019: Microsoft HoloLens 2 Launch on February 24 Teased by Original Headset’s Creator

Microsoft has long been rumoured to be working on a successor to the original HoloLens headset. It now appears that the company is gearing up to unveil the next generation Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) headset, tentatively called the HoloLens 2, later this month ahead of MWC 2019. Alex Kipman, credited as the mind behind the original HoloLens, has shared a cryptic video on YouTube hinting that Microsoft might announce the HoloLens successor at the company’s official event scheduled for February 24, 2019 in Barcelona, during MWC 2019. Not much is known about the next-generation HoloLens headset right now. 

The video posted by Kipman on YouTube, that he later shared on Twitter too, shows what appears to be a chip, melting metal, and other such fancy elements. However, it does not reveal anything specific about a mixed reality headset, and neither does it explicitly tease the HoloLens 2’s arrival itself. But with Kipman being among the hosts of Microsoft’s event later this month, there is a high probability that Microsoft will indeed unveil the HoloLens 2 or at least make some major announcements regarding the Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) platform.

As we mentioned earlier, not much is known about the HoloLens 2’s specifications, but if the teaser video is anything to go by, it might feature a sturdy build carved out of an amalgam of metal and carbon fibre. Back in July, Microsoft announced that the HoloLens 2 will come with a custom AI chip that will enhance the speed of mobile processing by eliminating the need to upload data to the cloud. The on-device processing is also expected to make processes more secure, thanks to the AI chip that will reportedly analyse and process data locally. 

The AI chip is reportedly a customised version of the company’s Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) and is claimed to be a one-of-a-kind chip for mobile devices that was demonstrated at an event last year. Microsoft has reportedly created the chip from scratch, but the manufacturing duties will be handled by other partner companies. Some rumours suggest that the HoloLens 2 will be powered by a Qualcomm-made processor and will also sport a ToF sensor for better depth assessment as well as a wider field of view, but these are all rumours and must be processed with a fair share of scepticism.

Samsung Galaxy S10+ Alleged Hands-On Video Leaked, Luxurious Ceramic Variant Appears Online

Samsung Galaxy S10+ Alleged Hands-On Video Leaked, Luxurious Ceramic Variant Appears Online

The floodgates of Samsung Galaxy S10 series leaks seemingly refuse to shut down. The latest leak comes in the form of a hands-on video that claims to show the Samsung Galaxy S10+, complete with its curved display and pill-shaped hole for accommodating the dual front cameras. The smartphone’s display is seen covered by a screen protector with a circular cut-out at the spot where the in-display fingerprint sensor will be located. Moreover, alleged images of the smartphone’s Luxurious Ceramic White variant have also surfaced online.

The alleged Galaxy S10+ hands-on video shows the smartphone flaunting a familiar design that we’ve already seen in multiple leaks in the past few months. The curved Infinity-O Display and the elongated punch hole housing the dual selfie sensors is there, alongside a thin bottom bezel. But what caught our attention is the distinct circular cut out on the screen protector at the spot where the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor will be located.

While this may appear to be a logical design element for maximising the efficiency of the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor, a previous leak claimed that the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and Galaxy S10’s fingerprint sensor won’t work when a screen protector is applied. Interestingly, the aforesaid leak comes from UK-based smartphone accessories seller MobileFun, the same source that has now leaked the alleged Samsung Galaxy S10+ hands-on video.

Additionally, a set of images claiming to show the Luxurious Ceramic White variant of the Galaxy S10+ have also surfaced online. The leaked images show the upcoming smartphone’s Luxurious Ceramic White variant from all angles and also depict a side-by-side comparison with its Prism White variant. The Luxurious Ceramic White version of the Galaxy S10 appears to have a more uniform colour texture with a light brownish tinge to it, while the Prism White variant flaunts a reflective surface finish with blue and pink undertone. We’ll get to know more when Samsung launches the Galaxy S10+, alongside the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10e at the Galaxy Unpacked event on February 20 in Barcelona.

Oppo F11 Pro Alleged Leaked Teaser Reveals Design, Pop-Up Selfie Camera

Oppo F11 Pro Alleged Leaked Teaser Reveals Design, Pop-Up Selfie Camera

Oppo is gearing up to bring the F11 Pro to India and is putting up a series of teasers on social media to generate interest in the upcoming phone. The new smartphone is set to feature dual camera setup at the back, which houses a 48-megapixel camera. Oppo has also teased a Super Night Pro feature for the Oppo F11 Pro. The F11 Pro will be a part of Oppo’s F-Series and is expected to launch in India very soon. This series recently had two additions in the form of the Oppo F9 and the F9 Pro.

We first came to know about the Oppo F11 Pro first when it was leaked via a certification site bearing the model number CPH 1969. The leaked live images of the Oppo F11 Pro finally gave us a glimpse of how the smartphone would look like. Soon after we had the Oppo India Twitter handle teasing the launch of the F11 Pro in the country, while confirming the presence of a 48-megapixel camera and Super Night Mode.

A recently published video on YouTube, which seems to be a leaked official teaser, reveals the full design of the F11 Pro. In the 30 second video, we can see a pop-up selfie camera module similar to the one seen on the Vivo Nex and the upcoming Vivo V15 Pro. The earpiece grill is quite sleek and is positioned in the frame of the smartphone. It reveals two colour options, out of which one is a gradient finish. The dual camera module at the back houses the two camera sensors and an LED flash. A rear-mounted fingerprint scanner can also be seen below the camera module.

With the selfie camera moved to a pop-up module, the F11 Pro gets a full-screen display without a notch. It has thin bezels on the top and the sides, but the bottom bezel is slightly thicker. The specifications of the F11 Pro are relatively unknown at the moment but with the launch already teased, we won’t have to wait for long to find out.

Redmi Note 7 India Launch Confirmed for February 28: Price in India and Other Details to Expect

Redmi Note 7 India Launch Confirmed for February 28: Price in India and Other Details to Expect

Redmi Note 7 is arguably the most highly anticipated smartphone from Xiaomi right now, and after making an impressive debut in the Chinese market, the smartphone is all set to arrive in India. Redmi Note 7 will be launched in India on February 28, the company confirmed on Thursday. Xiaomi has already kicked off the registration process for purchasing tickets for the launch event to be held in New Delhi. Xiaomi has been teasing the Redmi Note 7’s India launch for quite some time and it finally made the launch date official via a tweet today.

Redmi Note 7 India launch date

The Redmi Note7 was launched in January, packing capable hardware and bringing an attractive design at a competitive price point in typical Xiaomi fashion. The smartphone quickly became a major hit as the company reportedly sold 1 million units of the Redmi Note 7 in the Chinese market in a span of just three weeks since its launch. The company is finally ready to release it outside China and India will be the first international market to get the phone. According to a tweet from the company, it is hosting an event on February 28 where it will officially launch the smartphone.

Redmi Note 7 price in India (expected)

The official India pricing and availability details remain unclear for now, however the phone carries a price tag of CNY 999 (roughly Rs. 10,300) in China for the 3GB RAM + 32GB storage option, going up to CNY 1,199 (roughly Rs. 12,400) for the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage option, and CNY 1,399 (roughly Rs. 14,500) for the 6GB RAM + 64GB storage option. We expect similar pricing for India. Xiaomi India’s Managing Director, Manu Kumar Jain labelled the Redmi Note 7 as a “game changer device” that will disrupt the dynamics of the particular segment.

Redmi Note 7 specifications

To recall, the Redmi Note 7 sports a 6.3-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) display protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5. It is powered by the Snapdragon 660 octa-core SoC, paired with up to 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The Redmi Note 7 also features a dual camera setup with one 48-megapixel Samsung GM1 sensor with f/1.8 aperture and another 5-megapixel sensor, while a 13-megapixel sensor handles selfies. The smartphone packs a 4,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 4 support and comes in Twilight Gold, Fantasy Blue, and Bright Black colour options. As per a previous leak, Xiaomi is expected to launch the 3GB RAM + 32GB storage version and the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage model in India and will offer it in Red, Black, and Blue colour options.

Vivo V15 Pro Teased on Flipkart Ahead of Launch Next Week

Vivo V15 Pro Teased on Flipkart Ahead of Launch Next Week

Amazon India has been teasing the arrival of Vivo V15 Pro for over a week, and now Flipkart has also joined in the action with a dedicated microsite for the phone. The Vivo V15 Pro teaser pages on Amazon and Flipkart reiterate that the smartphone will launch on February 20, the same day as the Samsung Galaxy S10-Series announcement. The Vivo V15 Pro is confirmed to sport a pop-up selfie camera, a triple camera setup at the back, and an in-display fingerprint scanner.

The Vivo V15 Pro teaser page on Flipkart confirms that the phone will be available on both Flipkart and Amazon.in. Both websites have a ‘Notify Me’ button live for interested customers to sign up for a notification when the sale goes live. Apart from the February 20 launch date, the Flipkart teaser page shows the phone from all angles, and it is seen sporting a gradient design, an in-display fingerprint scanner, a triple AI camera with one 48-megapixel sensor, and a 32-megapixel pop-up selfie camera. There’s also a USB Type-C port, speaker grille, and a SIM tray slot on the bottom of the device.

As per recent leaks, the Vivo V15 Pro expected price appears to be around Rs. 33,000. It is rumoured to come with a 6.39-inch full-HD+ Super AMOLED Ultra FullView Display panel and will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 SoC, coupled 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. The smartphone may pack a 3,700mAh battery along with a “Dual Engine” fast charging technology.

In terms of the imaging capabilities, the triple AI camera setup on the phone is confirmed to include the 48-megapixel sensor, but the details of the other two cameras remain a mystery. However, the rumours indicate that there will be an 8-megapixel secondary sensor and a 5-megapixel tertiary sensor. Vivo V15 Pro, as mentioned, is set to launch on February 20 in the country.