Breakfast briefing: Windows RT OEMs named, Google gigs

Morning! Today’s breakfast wrap sees Dell, Samsung and Lenovo line up to make Windows RT tablets, while Research in Motion is considering licensing its BlackBerry 10 OS.

Microsoft: Dell, Samsung and Lenovo making Windows RT devices

PC makers might not be very happy with Microsoft’s move into hardware with its Surface tablets, but that doesn’t mean they’re ignoring the Windows 8 launch. In yet another lengthy Building Windows 8 blog post, Microsoft revealed the trio of manufacturers had ARM devices on the way, alongside a previously announced tablet from Asus, saying RT tablets were offering battery life of up to 409 hours in “connected stand-by” and 13 hours playing HD video.

RIM nearly ready to license BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion says it is nearly ready to license it BlackBerry 10 operating system, ahead of the platform’s appearance on the company’s handsets next year.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the company is considering how other manufacturers could use its software, and whether it would generate any business advantage for the struggling Canadian company. “QNX is already licensed across the automotive sector – we could do that with BB10 if we chose to,” said CEO Thorsten Heins. “The platform can be licensed.”

Google Hangouts for gigs

If, like our very own Darien Graham-Smith, you harbour not-so-secret ambitions to be the next Artic Monkeys, a new feature in Google Hangouts could help bring your music to a wider audience. Hangouts, for the benefit of those who aren’t amongst the six active users of Google+, are ad-hoc video conferences for users of Google+ or (more recently) Gmail.

The company claims lots of bands have used Hangouts to broadcast their gigs, and so Google has introduced a Studio Mode, which optimises the audio output for music rather than voice.

If it works anything like as effectively as the Google video demo (embedded below), it’s very impressive. Although the people bobbing their heads to the music at the foot of the video look downright weird.

Is Google punishing pirates to help its own Music service?

Yesterday we learned that Google is to start punishing sites in its ranking if they consistently promote copyrighted material. Now, The Guardian has linked that move with its ongoing attempts to expand Google Music.

The issue of piracy has been a major sticking point in Google’s negotiations with the music industry as it attempts to strike licensing deals to launch its own service, and this move could smooth things over. Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Recorded Music Industry, told the Guardian “it makes us feel that Google is a little bit more on our side. It’s helpful background music to these [Google Music] discussions, certainly”.

Would you pay for a social network?

We asked this very question on the podcast last week, and it looks like we’ll get to find out the answer. The ambitious project has achieved its crowdsourced funding goal and will now go into full development. “We believe that advertising-supported social services are so consistently and inextricably at odds with the interests of users and developers that something must be done,” went the funding blurb, and there’s no denying that’s a fair point. Whether a social network that charges its users can be a success is another matter entirely.

Wikipedia’s Athena Project

The Wikipedia Signpost has a detailed post by Brandon Harris, Wikimedia’s Senior Designer, in which he outlines what needs to change to bring Wikipedia into the modern age. With links to the main goals for 2012-13 and a presentation he gave about the developers’ vision for 2015, it’s an interesting read for anyone interested in how to evolve such a monstrous site.

Disney Turns Plants Into Multi-Touch Sensors

Forget the mouse, your next input device could be the wilting yukka in the corner of your living room. Botanicus Interacticus, created by Disney Research in Pittsburgh, uses an electrode in the soil to “excite plants at multiple frequencies”. By observing the frequencies as they pass through the plant, the team can detect where a user’s touch affected the signal. Machine learning then allows set gestures to be recognised, effectively turning the plant into a giant touch input device. If that sounds ridiculous, here’s a video showing that, amazingly, it actually works.

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