Nissan’s Invisible-to-Visible tech will let you see what’s around the bend

Nissan has developed a new in-car interface that uses augmented reality to track what’s happening around you and predict what’s coming up on the road ahead.

Invisible-to-Visible (I2V) combines local data from the car’s sensors with global data on transport infrastructure to track your immediate surroundings and predict what’s ahead – even letting you ‘see’ through buildings and around corners.

To make the information more accessible, it can be presented by a virtual ‘navigator’ – an avatar that appears inside the car and interacts with you in a human-like way using speech synthesis. This could be a cartoon character, a virtual representation of a friend or family member, or someone else.

Nissan Invisible-to-Visible

Nissan says that I2V will bring together the real world and what it calls the metaverse. “Simply put, the metaverse is a virtual universe,” says Tetsuro Ueda, an expert leader at the Nissan Research Center. “Sensor data, cloud data and artificial intelligence live in the digital world, and their communication language is binary. However, humans cannot understand what’s being communicated just by looking at the binary data.

“Invisible-to-Visible technology is the interface that merges the data world and the real world – a new level of connectivity that connects cars to the metaverse.”

Manual or autonomous

I2V will work for both manual and autonomous driving. For autonomous cars, Nissan hopes that the technology will make being chauffeured around a more pleasant experience – showing you the outside world on a sunny day when it’s actually raining, for example.

It’s also hoped that showing a visualization of what the car’s artificial intelligence ‘sees’ will put passengers at ease, and help them trust the vehicle.

Nissan Invisible-to-Visible

For manual driving, the interface will appear as an augmented reality overlay on top of the real view through the car’s windshield. It will also show you information about your estimated travel time, upcoming road congestion, irregular road surfaces, and other factors that could surprise you. I2V will also let you know if someone is about to cross the road ahead, or a parking space is about to become available.

You can even choose to book guidance from a professional driver, who will give you personal instructions in real time to improve your driving. The driver will appear as a virtual car in your field of view, which you can follow.

Nissan will be showing off the tech at CES 2019, where visitors will have the chance to try the interactive, 3D interface for themselves.

  • Driverless cars explained: everything you need to know

Epic Games Store’s next freebie is indie gem What Remains of Edith Finch

The Epic Games Store has revealed the next game giveaway it has in the wings, which is What Remains of Edith Finch, a freebie that will go live on January 10 (through to January 25).

We all love a good freebie, of course, but this one is particularly tempting seeing as it could well be the kind of game you might have been curious about at the time of release, but never picked up, despite some rave reviews. Mainly because the hit indie title may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea…

Self-billed as the ‘best game you haven’t played’ – a marketing soundbite which is quite possibly true in this case – it’s an adventure where you play the eponymous heroine and explore the house of your childhood, discovering how the various Finch family members died.

Concisely charming

So yes, it sounds a little off-the-wall and odd, but this short interactive movie-style outing possesses a charm of its own, and is beautifully written to make it a touching affair, avoiding any danger of veering into seriously depressing territory.

It was released to critical acclaim back in 2017, and picked up a ‘best game’ BAFTA, plus it’s strong enough to still be featured in our roundup of the best Steam games. Although if you buy it on Valve’s store right now, it will set you back £14.99 or $19.99 (around AU$28).

This is all part of Epic’s drive to get its store going by giving away a free game every two weeks. Incidentally, Super Meat Boy is the freebie which is available right now, and would normally set you back £10.99 (around $14, AU$20), and as mentioned, What Remains of Edith Finch will be given away come January 10.

  • Maybe you’ll play Edith Finch on one of our best gaming PCs

LG G8 release date, news, price and leaks

Update: LG’s next phone may feature a new type of speaker technology that has previously been reserved for high-end TVs. Find out all about it, and everything else we know about the phone, below.

The LG G8 – or LG G8 ThinQ as it might be called – is starting to appear in leaks from a variety of sources, so we’ve made this article to collate all the information in one place.

The aim is for you to see the clearest picture of the so far unannounced phone, and see if you think it’s worthwhile waiting for the LG G8 to be your next phone.

We’ve also taken the liberty of listing the things that we most want from the LG G8, so read on and see if you agree.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next flagship in the LG G range
  • When is it out? Probably early to mid-2019
  • What will it cost? A lot

LG G8 release date and price

We probably won’t see the LG G8 before February at the earliest

There’s no official word on when the LG G8 will launch and we initially expected it to come a year after the LG G7 ThinQ, which would fall on May 2019.

There’s no guarantee that it will be announced in May though, especially as the LG G6 was announced in February 2016 during MWC (Mobile World Congress). MWC 2019 takes place from 25-28 February, so that’s a possible time frame for the announcement.

One report from ET News – a Korean news site – suggests the phone will be announced toward the end of March instead.

We don’t yet know what the LG G8 will cost either, but the LG G7 ThinQ launched for $749 / £619 / AU$1,099, so prices for the G8 may be similar.

LG G8 news and rumors

Little is known so far about the design of the LG G8, but we’ve had a look at some of the key features we can expect to come to the next handset.

For one thing, a source claims that LG will be ready to use ‘sound-emitting displays’ in its phones from early 2019, essentially allowing the earpiece to be built into the screen.

Currently the earpiece is one of the main components that prevents a truly bezel-free phone, so with this solved it’s possible that the LG G8 will have no bezel and no notch, though that’s just speculation for now.

A separate report from OnLeaks has also suggested the phone itself won’t include a speaker grille as it adopts Sound on Display technology. That’s tech that debuted in LG’s range of TVs at CES 2018, and that uses the display itself to vibrate to make sound rather than a traditional speaker.

We’ve also heard from leaker @UniverseIce that the LG G8 will have a 4K LCD screen. That’s up from a 1440 x 3120 LCD screen on the LG G7 ThinQ and would be more in line with the likes of the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium if true. 

While the resolution boost would be appreciated it’s unlikely to be that noticeable outside of VR – which may therefore be a focus for the G8.

However, it’s disappointing that the phone is apparently sticking with LCD, given that OLED is generally considered to be better and is increasingly being used by high-end phones, including the LG V35 ThinQ.

We can also guess that the LG G8 will probably have a Snapdragon 855 chipset. This chip has been announced by Qualcomm and is likely to be used in many of 2019’s phones. 

It should be an improvement in a lot of ways – it’s made on a smaller 7nm process than the 10nm Snapdragon 845 and could offer up to 45% improved performance. 

One report has said the phone won’t be capable of 5G despite sporting the super-fast internet compatible Snapdragon 855 chipset.

We don’t know many specifics about the camera, but a leak from Korean site ET News has said the phone’s shooter will feature 3D technology. 

We expect that’ll be to improve augmented reality experiences as well as a few general upgrades to normal shooting performance.

What we want to see

While we wait for more rumors about the LG G8 to roll in, here’s a list of what we hope the phone will offer.

1. Exciting innovations

The LG G7 ThinQ played things a bit too safe

More than anything, we hope that the LG G8 will have some innovative features that we’ve not seen before. 

LG has done this in the past with the likes of its rear keys on older handsets and the modules it launched for the LG G5, but the LG G7 ThinQ is fairly safe and ordinary in comparison.

It gets many of the basics right, but for the LG G8 to stand out from the crowd it’s going to need to do more than that, so we want LG to surprise us.

2. A big battery

One disappointing aspect of the LG G7 is its small 3,000mAh battery, a battery which can last the day but won’t go beyond that for most users.

That’s roughly in line with many other phones, but they in many cases have much bigger batteries so we’d love to see what LG could do with a big one of say around 4,000mAh.

3. Stereo speakers

Two speakers are better than one

The LG G7 already has a very good speaker, but the key word there is ‘speaker’, not ‘speakers’. For the LG G8 we’d like to see all the fancy Boombox tech return, but for it to be used in a pair of speakers rather than one, so it can offer stereo sound and is less in danger of being accidentally covered.

4. A lower price

The LG G7 ThinQ is an expensive phone, but oddly in the US it’s a very expensive phone, launching at a higher price than even the Samsung Galaxy S9.

That’s a tricky position for LG to be in, because it’s not as big a name in phones as Samsung, so it can’t really afford to price its handsets higher, at least, not unless they offer a drastically better experience, which the LG G7 ThinQ doesn’t.

So for the LG G8 we want a lower starting price, particularly in the US, but keeping it as low as possible everywhere will make it more widely appealing.

5. No notch

We see notches as something of a stopgap before phones eliminate bezels altogether. But some handsets, such as the Vivo Nex and Oppo Find X, are already getting very close to doing that, and with LG rumored to be building the earpiece into the screen for the G8 it’s not out of the question that the phone could have no notch and virtually no bezels.

6. A braver design

The LG G7 ThinQ is a fairly plain phone

The LG G7 ThinQ has a premium but slightly plain build, lacking the curves of the Galaxy S9 or the striking finish of the Huawei P20 Pro or HTC U12 Plus.

We’d like to see a bolder, braver look from the LG G8, making it a phone that can stand out even at first glance. 

If the Honor 10 can pack a color-changing back that light dances across for half the cost of most flagships then LG should be able to come up with something.

7. OLED rather than LCD

Early rumors suggest the LG G8 will have an LCD screen, with the company likely keeping OLED for the V range, but we hope that’s not the case, as with OLED offering superior contrast among other benefits it’s something we’d like to see offered by all flagship phones.

  • The G8 will have the Samsung Galaxy S10 to compete with

Is this Xiaomi’s foldable tablet?

Foldable devices are getting more and more buzz, and we might even see one this year. Notable tipster Evan Blass tweeted a video of what could be a Xiaomi tablet that folds into thirds, though he noted that he couldn’t verify its authenticity.

Though it’s unclear if this is actually a Xiaomi product, or even if it’s anywhere near market-ready, the tablet does seem to function and respond to touch gestures before folding up without seams. 

But is it a real product, or is it a “gadget porn deepfake” as Blass noted in his tweet? If it’s an actual device, it’s far ahead of what other manufacturers have been capable of in their revealed products.

The race to reveal foldables is on

While Samsung has been working to release a foldable device for years, it finally demonstrated the so-called Galaxy X on (a very shadowed) stage last fall. That phone’s ‘Infinity Flex’ display folds along a single crease, clamshell-style, with another screen on the front.

In contrast, the purported Xiaomi tablet bends in thirds down to a size comparable to a smartphone. Other manufacturers are trying different methods to achieve both form factors: the Royole FlexPai, which might be the first foldable device to market, folds in half (though the hinge is still large enough that it doesn’t fold flat). 

Other big phone manufacturers are racing to reveal their own foldable phones, especially after Google confirmed Android will support foldable phones. Oppo claims it will unveil its foldable device at Mobile World Congress in February, and while LG was supposed to show off its own device at CES 2019, that reveal might be delayed for awhile. 

  • Before foldable phones take over, check out our list of the best smartphones on the market

The best 4K TV deals in January 2019

If you didn’t score a new TV during the holidays, and you’re still in the market for one, then you’ve come to the right place! January is one of the best months to find great deals on TVs, and Walmart and Amazon are currently offering big savings on some of their best-selling 4K sets.

We’ve scoured both sites to find the best TV deals from top brands including Samsung, Vizio, and Sharp.

The best deals we’ve spotted include the TLC 43-inch TV for $259.99, the Samsung 50-inch TV for $377.99 and the Vizio 70-inch TV for $798.

Walmart is offering the Sharp 55-inch 4K Smart TV for only $349.99, a brilliant price for a mid-size 4K TV. That’s a $150 price drop, and the best price we’ve seen for this top-rated smart TV. 

Scroll down to shop more of our top 4K TV deals.

January 2019 4K TV deals: 

  • Best TV 2019: which TV should you buy?

Best smart bags: suitcases, luggage and rucksacks for the future of travel

Let’s face it – the golden age of flight is over. Sure, we can get around the world with relative ease, with all but the most far-flung and remote locations accessible by air. 

But unless you’ve paid for the first class, premium experience you’re going to be about as comfortable as a cow in an overheating barn.

So it’s becoming ever-more important to be able to enjoy air travel with as little extra stress as is possible, able to bring your prized entertainment gadgets along for the ride and keeping them easily at hand and fully charged.

The answer to super-smooth travel? Smart luggage. Here’s what you need to know.

What is smart luggage?

So-called smart luggage includes cases and bags designed to keep your gadgets charged while you travel. 

At their most basic, they’ll include a rechargeable battery pack that can be used to power your devices on the go, and at their most advanced they may include a GPS luggage tracker, putting your mind at ease as to the location of your baggage as it travels alongside you. 

Some brands, such as Horizn Studios even include a personalised travel service, managing bookings and reservations on your behalf. 

While not strictly tech-infused, gadget-friendly backpacks and rucksacks can also be a lifesaver when travelling, with secret pockets for valuables and dedicated pouches putting gadgets easily within reach when you’re rushing through security.

Travel restrictions

However, the rise of smart luggage has not been a straightforward one. With airports on high alert due to never ending terrorism threats and passenger safety paramount, some earlier attempts at smart luggage have been banned on flights.

Remember the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle? Or flaming hoverboards? They’re to blame – with airlines unable to verify the safety of onboard batteries, luggage that contained lithium-ion batteries were banned from the hold – and in the case of some airlines, from being taken onboard as hand luggage too. 

Major airlines like American Airlines, Delta and Alaska Airlines have all put restrictions on smart luggage. But all is not lost, provided you know what you’re travelling with.

So what can, and can’t, you take on board? Essentially, if you buy a suitcase that has a removable battery pack onboard, you should be fine – they’re allowed in the cabin and, so long as you eject the battery before check in, they can be stored in the hold, too. 

However, some airlines are still a little touchy about cases with battery compartments built in, so just to be on the safe side, eject your battery pack before you go through security even if you’re taking it as carry on luggage.

What you definitely shouldn’t do is buy a case with a battery pack built in that can’t be removed. This is a sure-fire way to get you held up at the gate, where you and your belongings will be stranded unless you purchase a new, dumb case.

The best smart luggage: cases

If you’re after the best of the best smart luggage, the best we’ve tried so far would be the cases built by Away. It makes smart cases in a range of sizes, including two different carry-on capacities, and a kid friendly case too.

The Carry-On with Pocket is our pick of the bunch. Capacious with a 38L main compartment, and lightweight at 3.8kg when empty, it comes complete with an ejectable 10,000mAh battery tucked under the slide-out handle with two power-out ports for charging a pair of gadgets at once. 

Its polycarbonate shell is tough while still having enough give to overstuff the bag in a pinch, and 360-degree Hinomoto wheels let you glide around the airport concourse. 

A dedicated pocket at the front also lets you slip a laptop or tablet in and out in seconds to help a speedy sprint through security. 

An inner compression system maximises the amount of clothes you can fit inside, while a TSA-approved combination lock keeps your valuables safe while also letting authorities safely open your bag if required without resorting to tearing the the thing apart. 

Other brands to consider include Horizn Studios and  Incase

The best smart luggage: rucksacks

If you’re after a rucksack we’d suggest trying wares by ModernistLook and Horizn Studios. We’ve not tried these ourselves, but from our research these look by far the most sensibly-designed, with all the elements we’re looking for.

The more tech-savvy of the two is the ModernistLook Smart Pro. Large enough to house a 15-inch laptop, it has an integrated USB port to which you can connect up any portable charging pack on the inside. 

Then, it’s just a matter of plugging your depleted device into the port on the outside of your device to charge while on the go. With a hidden rear pocket for valuables against your back and a luggage strap for hooking your bag onto your suitcase, it’s feature rich.

The Smart Pro isn’t the best looking bag we’ve seen. If you’re feeling fashion conscious, and don’t mind losing out on the USB port, check out the Horizn Studios Gion, which has a classier pod-like look, ample easy-access storage space and water resistance.

Lightspeed luggage – the cases of the future

The future of luggage? It’s looking like it’ll be hands-off, and ride-on. With GPS trackers mastered and onboard charging as standard, the future suitcase will look to do the really hard work for us – wandering aimlessly through cookie-cutter departure gates while dragging our stuff behind us.

Take for instance the forward-thinking Modobag, as seen in the video above. Not only is it a vessel for your vestments, it also doubles up as a 6mph motorised scooter, turning a trip to the airport lounge into a makeshift Mario Kart track. Though released in 2016, there’s still little out there yet to match it.

Or how about Xiaomi’s Puppy 1 Smart Suitcase? Remote control powered with a secure finger print lock, it’ll follow its owner around, complete with a parking brake and bi-directional steering, with sensors allowing it to adjust to different inclines and adapt its center of gravity accordingly to avoid tipping over.

The Panasonic Personal Porter Robot (GIF courtesy of Gizmodo UK)

And what about if you want to be buddies with your luggage? The Panasonic Personal Porter Robot concept was shown off in late 2018, and features facial recognition tech which lets it lock its contents off to anyone but its owner, whom it’ll follow around like a faithful dog. While it’s intended more for a trip to the shops than an overseas jaunt, its mere existence makes it easier to imagine a future where we’ve all got our own personal luggage-bot to carry our belongings around for us. Let the AI worry about your passport and dirty laundry while you hope off the plane and find the nearest beach.

  • Going away? Pick up the best travel camera for the perfect holiday snaps