Tech Talk

• TWITTER is making big changes, at least in the context of its signature 140 characters or fewer.

The social media service said yesterday that photos, videos and other media will not count toward Twitter’s 140-character message limit. Now, for example, when a user posts a photo, it counts for about 24 characters.

While replies to another user, which start with the @ symbol and the user’s name, will not count against character limits, names with the @ symbol in the middle of a tweet will still count.

People will also be able to retweet and quote their own tweets.

• THE Nokia mobile phone is coming back.

The Finnish telecoms company, which has focused on networks since it sold its troubled devices unit to Microsoft in 2014, is bringing out “a new generation” of cellphones and tablets with a new company called HMD.

Nokia will not make the phones or tablets itself. HMD, which is led by a group of former Nokia and Microsoft executives, will produce them under the Nokia brand. HMD will invest $500m in the next three years.

Nokia was, for years, the world’s top mobile phone maker until the advent of smartphones such as the iPhone and Android-based systems.

• EUROPEAN aeronautics giant Airbus has unveiled the ‘Light Rider, an electric motorcycle made from tiny aluminum alloy particles using a 3D printer.

Weighing 77 pounds, capable of 50 mph, with a range of 37 miles and looking like a Swiss cheese on wheels, the Light Rider uses hollow frame parts that contain the cables and pipes.

The frame weighs just 13 pounds, about 30 per cent less than conventional e-motorbikes. The company is taking orders for a limited run of 50 motorbikes, costing $56,000 plus tax each.

• A SOLAR-powered airplane has reached the Ohio hometown of two of America’s most well-known aviation pioneers on the latest leg of its around-the-world journey.

The Swiss-made Solar Impulse 2 landed late on Saturday in Dayton, where inventors Wilbur and Orville Wright grew up. The plane took off from Tulsa International Airport before 5am for the 17-hour flight.

The plane is due to leave for LeHigh, Pennsylvania, today on the next leg and is expected to make at least one more stop in the US, in New York, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Europe or northern Africa.

The globe-circling voyage began in March, 2015, from Abu Dhabi and made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China and Japan.

• FOUR sister Valkyrie robots built by NASA could be pioneers in the colonisation of Mars, part of an advance construction team that sets up a habitat for more fragile human explorers.

The US space agency has kept one robot at its birthplace, the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, and loaned the others to universities in Massachusetts and Scotland so professors and students can tinker with the 6ft, 300lb humanoids and make them more autonomous.

The $2m robots have 28 torque-controlled joints and nearly 200 sensors. The universities are partnering in a two-year project to improve the robot’s software and test its ability to manipulate tools, climb a ladder and perform high-level tasks.


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