The Wrap – April 13, 2018

Blackmagic makes hi-def filmmaking easier, Google Assistant eases the burden of school holidays, Panasonic makes it easier to experience Hollywood magic at home, and MIT scientists can easily read your thoughts. It’s an easy going Wrap.

Transcript

For the middle of April 2018, you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round-up, and in a week that has seen the head of Facebook testify about the comings and goings of his social network and what he should have been doing write or wrong, we thought we’d look at the side of the news meant to make things a little easier.

Take what Google has been doing with its Google Assistant, because if you have one of these, you kind of have a helping hand with your kids over the school holidays. Google’s latest trick is that it knows some activities to help you make it through the holidays with your sanity in check, and it can even recognise up to six members of your family.

That means you, parent or legal guardian, doesn’t have to say “let’s play a game” to a Google Home speaker, and can let the kids do it. You can “play musical chairs” or “read the complete adventures of Blinky Bill”, though you may want to be around when Google takes the kids through “how to make ANZAC biscuits”, you know, because of that whole parental supervision thing with ovens, cooking, that sort of thing.

Anyone with a Google Home can find this working now, and it should also work with any phone with Google Assistant on-board, which can be Android or iPhones with the app.

One thing it can’t help you with is making movies.

This week, Blackmagic’s gear commonly used by broadcasting and filmmaking folks has found a new category to sell to: people who don’t want to spend a lot to make their movie, and yet want a lot of quality.

You may not know Blackmagic, and it wouldn’t shock us if you didn’t. Bizarrely, Blackmagic is one of Australia’s lesser known big brands, originally building high quality media capture gear and gradually making its way into cameras.

Its latest product is just that, a camera, but it’s a 4K filmmaking camera that takes the same interchangeable lenses used by Panasonic and Olympus cameras, and provides a quality made for making movies with.

These days, 4K video cameras are everywhere mind you, and the iPhone 8 and Galaxy S9 can do that, but things are a little different on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K. You get actual lens control, support for both TV-ready 4K and film-friendly 4K, and there’s also this little thing called RAW video.

If you’ve ever used a digital camera with lenses, you might have dabbled with RAW. It’s an image format that sucks in more light and more data, and makes it possible for you to change the image after you’ve captured it.

RAW video follows the same methodology, only it’s with video, so think of it as better to capture in than standard video. Or to put it mildly, it’s what the pros are using, so it makes sense to be using it, too.

Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema 4K camera won’t cost much either, coming in at a little over $1800 locally without the lens.

Now you just need the TV, and given that it’s April, there’s no shock that we’re seeing new TVs hit the market. Between March and May is usually when you see them, and Panasonic is among the first.

This week, it showed off two OLED TVs which are similar, but not the same. Both the FZ950 and FZ1000 do use the same technology, with an OLED screen, Panasonic’s Hollywood Cinema Experience processing engine for colour, and an Absolute Black Filter to help the blacks absorb ambient light to make black look that much more, well, black. OLED screens don’t need to simulate black, either. They just turn the individual LEDs off to make black real, but that doesn’t mean your room will cooperate, and so that’s where this comes in.

While both of Panasonic’s screens provide that tech, and do so with 4K resolution, the flagship model — the FZ1000 — gets an eight-speaker soundbar built in. That’s something to be excited for, though the prices of each are in the typical OLED area, meaning you’ll want to save at least $3849 for the speaker-less FZ950 or five grand for the speaker-based FZ1000 when they arrive in the middle of the year.

The good news is that technology will be here a whole lot quicker than mind-reading technology, which is here, but only in development stages.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a device that has the ability to almost read your mind.

It’s called “AlterEgo”, and it doesn’t technically read your mind. Instead, it uses your own body against yourself. You see, when you see things, you might be saying what they are in your head. We do this with passwords, and while we don’t physically and verbally say them, we still do in our heads. That’s called a subvocalisation, and it’s something scientists at MIT have developed a gadget for.

That gadget is a long way off being used in real life, but it demonstrates an almost mind-reading ability of technology, and one that could help those who have lost the ability to speak do so again simply by visualising the words and letting the system do its magic.

We don’t have one of those, but if we did, it would hear us thinking that it’s the end of the show, because it is.

So you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. You can find more of us online through Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts, TuneIn, and more, and we’ll be back next week for more of what’s up in the world of tech. Until then, have a great week and we’ll see you next time. Take care.

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