I. One billion Euro quantum technology project of the EU triggers global “quantum competition”

Since the EU announced the plans to launch a one billion-euro quantum technology project, it has detonated the ignition of global quantum technology. Quantum technology instantly becomes an international hot topic.

Spokesman of European Union Commission, Natalie Vandy Eisenstadt said that despite the way to carry out this project has not been finalized, in terms of size, time span and achievement of the goal, it is quite similar with two European flagship projects – Graphene flagship project and human brain project. One billion of funds shall be from the European Union and other European countries.On May 17 and 18, European Union Commission announced the “Quantum Declaration” in Europe Quantum Conference in Amsterdam. The meeting was held by the European Quantum Presidency – the Netherlands, the European Union Commission and Quantum Technology Center located in Delft.

Britain once announced the creation of £ 120 million network made up of four “quantum technology hubs”, including 17 universities and 132 companies to promote commercially viable new quantum technology.

According to report of “Nature” magazine, before that, US National Security Bureau is developing a kind of “quantum computers used for password technology”. The project’s investment capital is $ 79.7 million and its partner is a lab of the University of Maryland, College Park.

The world’s first quantum communications satellite developed by China has completed payload and platform product development and is making pre-launch integrated testing; it will launch in July this year.

Quantum Computing and Communications Technologies Research Center founded byUniversity of New South Wales in Sydney shall get 46 million Australian dollars ($ 33 million) investment in the first phase in July this year.

II. The Business Leaders All Participate in Quantum Technology Research and Development

IBM, Microsoft and other technology companies have invested a lot on quantum computing research. As early as last year, the last obstacle stopped in quantum computing technology – millisecond coherence time was officially solved by a researcher at IBM Research Institute.

On Dec 10, 2015, Google announced that it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing; the company said it had succeeded in proving their own highly controversial computer purchased in 2013 could perform mathematical calculations based on quantum technology. The quantum algorithm is 100 million times faster than the traditional process in solving the problem.

Since 2009, Israel Military Industry Group has invested on QITS (Quantum Intelligent Technology (Israel) CO.,LTD) to conduct quantum technology research and explore military and industrial applications of quantum algorithms.

BlackBerry investor Mike Lazaridis and Doug Friedkin also said they would jointly invest $ 100 million again to cultivate quantum science and technology enough to lead the next wave of computing field and achieve commercialization.

Quantum cryptography and quantum decryption technology will become hot; in addition, future quantum technology will be widely used in the Department of Defense, finance and other fields.

New Path Forward for Next-Generation Lithium-Ion Batteries

In the quest for a radically better lithium-ion battery, a promising direction is the so-called “lithium-rich” cathode, in which the cathode contains a higher proportion of lithium than normal. While it has the potential to have far higher energy density, scientists have lacked a clear picture of the chemical processes, especially the role of oxygen.

Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) report a major advance in understanding how oxygen oxidation creates extra capacity in such cathodes, opening the door to batteries with far higher , meaning your phone or electric vehicle will be able to run for much longer between charges.

“The specific nature of our findings shows a clear and exciting path forward to create the next-generation  materials with substantially higher energy density then current cathode materials,” the researchers write in their study titled, “The structural and chemical origin of the oxygen redox activity in layered and cation-disordered Li-excess cathode materials,” published online in Nature Chemistry.

The research was led by Gerbrand Ceder of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division. The lead authors were Dong-Hwa Seo and Jinhyuk Lee, and other co-authors were Alexander Urban, Rahul Malik, and ShinYoung Kang. Ceder also has an appointment at UC Berkeley’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and all the co-authors are also affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where some of the work was done.

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In a conventional lithium-ion battery, the cathode material is a lithium  oxide, with the content of the lithium and the transition metal, such as nickel or cobalt, balanced. In a lithium-rich (also called lithium-excess) cathode, there is a higher proportion of lithium than the transition metal. Because transition metals are heavy and also expensive, reducing its content is a big benefit. The battery can be significantly cheaper and lighter, which are especially important factors for vehicle applications, where the battery is often one of the heaviest components of the vehicle.

“This is a very exciting direction being pursued by battery scientists,” Lee said. “It has been experimentally demonstrated many times that a lithium-excess cathode material can deliver higher energy density, about 50 percent higher than the current cathode materials in commercial lithium batteries.”

A major stumbling block has been that scientists had lacked a clear understanding of the chemistry in a lithium-rich cathode—specifically the role of oxygen. Normally when a battery is charged and discharged, the transition metal in the cathode oxidizes and releases electrons; those electrons then travel between the cathode and anode and create electricity.

“What we and others have been claiming recently is that you can take an electron off the oxygen and put it back, which is fairly radical. That’s the big idea for this cathode design,” Ceder said. “This paper specifically shows that it’s true and more importantly, shows under which conditions that it becomes true. ”

Ceder said he and other scientists have been speculating about oxygen’s role in the cathode for more than 15 years. “It was highly controversial,” he said. “We knew it was there. This study is a big conceptual breakthrough for us.”

Currently there are only three transition metals—cobalt, nickel, and manganese—used in most commercial cathodes. That limited choice constrains battery design. What’s more, their availability is limited. Demand for cobalt has been booming, and more than 45 percent of the world’s cobalt production now goes to lithium-ion batteries, Ceder noted.

“It’s not scalable,” he said. “If we’re ever to all drive electric vehicles, there’s no way a cobalt-only technology can make it.”

The research started two years ago after Ceder’s group discovered that a so-called “disordered” cathode structure, previously dismissed by battery designers, could indeed be workable. This prompted the group to look into how and when oxygen is active in lithium-excess cathodes, which are similar in structure to disordered cathodes.

Ceder’s group developed a novel methodology of utilizing quantum mechanical simulations to study electron charge transfer in  with high accuracy. They used supercomputer facilities at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), a DOE Office of Science User Facility hosted at Berkeley Lab, and the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), led by the University of Illinois.

The findings will allow scientists to approach battery design more rationally. “Now we understand how the oxygen is oxidized and how it competes with transition metals in oxidation,” Seo said. “We now know how to manipulate transition metal and oxygen oxidation to achieve higher energy density cathodes.”

It will also give them more options. “We can now use 15 or 20 different transition metals,” Ceder said. “We can use a much broader range of chemistry to look for cathodes, and we know exactly the kind of structures we want to engineer.”

Apple might use a two-year cycle to launch its revamped iPhones, but that could be changing.

The tech giant has decided to change its major model shakeups to once every three years, Nikkei is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans. The company previously launched major iPhone upgrades every two years.

According to the Nikkei, Apple’s AAPL -1.44% decision is based in part in the realization that the smartphone market is changing more slowly than it had in the past, and its ability to deliver major innovations every two years has been hampered.

While Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, it follows earlier reports on the company’s plans for the future.

Over the last several weeks, reports have been flying thatApple will not deliver a major iPhone upgrade this year. Instead, the company will reportedly deliver an iPhone 7 with a largely similar design to that of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s as well as some internal component improvements.

Yet those same reports suggest Apple will offer a fully remodeled iPhone featuring an all-glass enclosure and an OLED screen in 2017. The company has previously only offered LCD screens, which are thicker and don’t deliver the same color quality as OLED.

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Since its launch in 2007, the iPhone has come with a regular update schedule. One year, the device has a major new design and is followed the next year by an “S” model that has the same design as the previous version, but comes with component upgrades. Last year was an “S” year, which had many guessing that the 2017 iPhone, believed to be known as the iPhone 7, would come with a major design upgrade.

That said, with the growing number of claims from analysts and unidentified sources that the company has changed plans, and recent leaks of images that purport to show the new iPhone’s design, that appears to not be the case.

What is unclear, however, is how the possible change to a three-year design upgrade could affect Apple’s bottom line. The company has historically had strong sales with each new iPhone, but its major upgrades tend to be its bestsellers. A three-year upgrade could change how the company’s iPhone business performs—good or bad.

For the first time ever, Apple’s iPhone business was down in its last-reported quarter, shining a bright light for the first time on that division’s performance.

Apple, of course, hasn’t said what its plans are, and it’s unlikely that the secretive iPhone maker will reveal any changes to its future plans. Still, expect the company to talk a bit about the iPhone and its iOS operating system on June 13 when it holds its annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

BBC Commercializes Raspberry Pi Rival

In March, the BBC released the micro:bit as part of an educational initiative, and now the mini PC is going public.

(CCM) — This week, the BBC announced that its pocket-sized codeable computer – the BBC micro:bit – is now available commercially, starting at roughly $22 or £12.99 for a single micro:bit. The micro:bit is available for pre-order in the UK now from Kitronik, with delivery slated for July. The mini PC is also available in packs. The starter kit, which includes a BBC micro:bit, mini USB, battery pack, and four project ideas, is priced at £14.99. Meanwhile, the “BBC micro:bit Club” pack is priced at £140, or just over $200, for 10 devices and “everything needed to get a coding club started.” The most expensive pack is the “BBC micro:bit Bulk Box” which offers a whopping 300 devices for £3,200.00, and is aimed at IT training companies, micro:bit accessory manufacturers, kitting houses, and more. The BBC mini PC will become available from other retailers, including Premier Farnell, The Pi Hut, Pimoroni, Science Scope, and Element 14 soon. Interested users can also get their hands on the micro:bit’s iOS and Android companion apps, available now.

The mini computer was initially slated to ship to one million Year 7 students across the UK when they started the school year in October, but was hit with unexpected delays. “As a result of our rigorous testing process, we’ve decided to make some minor revisions to the device — getting it right for children and teachers before we manufacture one million units is our priority,” said aBBC spokesperson in a statement last September. The devices finally made their way to students in March, packed with built-in low-energy Bluetooth support, 25 LED lights, two programmable buttons, an accelerometer, five input/output connections, and even a built-in compass.

20 of the best iPhone and iPad apps and games this month

From custom-made maps to football stories for kids, via classical music, ninja bears, GIF keyboards and avian dating games, it’s been an interesting month for iPhone and iPad owners, with a range of new App Store releases to try.

As ever, prices are correct at the time of writing, and if you see “IAP” it means the app uses in-app purchases. Looking for Android apps instead? Don’t post an angry comment – click through to the separate Best Android Apps roundups instead.
Relay (£1.49)
If you’re planning a trip, Relay could be a really useful app to install in advance. You use it to pin several locations: from tourist hotspots to restaurants and clubs. You can add notes, search for directions, and generally set everything up so that when you’re there, you’ll have all the details to hand – including sharing your maps with friends.

Opera VPN (Free)
As a “free unlimited ad-blocking VPN” app, Opera’s new app is controversial on several counts. It’s undeniable, though, that VPNs and ad-blocking are both on the rise, so there’s a demand for this kind of service. For now, the VPN aspect enables you to connect through the UK, Germany, the US, Netherlands and Singapore.

Spaces (Free)
Google has had a few misses when it comes to social networking apps, but Spaces looks like it has a shot at succeeding. Why? Because it has a tight focus on sharing with “small groups” of friends and family, meaning you only need a few contacts on it for it to be useful. Photos, websites and YouTube videos can all be pulled in.

Grammofy – Classical Music Streaming (Free + IAP)
Is there room for another music-streaming service? For classical music fans, perhaps there is. Grammofy is one of the companies trying to find out, charging £6.99 a month for access to its catalogue of old and new works, including collections recommended by its editors.

New Star Soccer G-Story (£2.99)
New Star Soccer remains one of the best football games on mobile, but this spin-off is targeting a different market: children and reading. It’s a storybook-app about a young footballer’s rise to glory, with more than 180,000 words to read, and New Star Soccer gameplay scenes thrown in that affect the storyline.


Swapshots: Post Your Prints (Free)
The Royal Mail’s new app is getting criticised by early reviewers for using Facebook to log in, but if you don’t mind that, the app is a good idea. It’s a simple way to turn your smartphone snaps into printed photos, delivered to whoever you like within the UK for 85p a time; to grandparents, for example.

Videorama (Free + IAP)
There have been quite a few video-editing apps for iOS, without much proof that there’s a big audience of people wanting to edit their videos outside the tools provided by their social network of choice. Still, Videorama is an impressive addition to this category: combining videos and photos then adding effects is quick and easy, and it plays nicely with the various social networks.

Somme 100 (Free)
This is the latest app from historian Dan Snow’s app development firm, which has partnered with the Royal British Legion for this first world war-focused app. It’s a mix of text, videos, photos, audio and maps from one of the most infamous battles in military history.

Sweatcoin (Free)
“Movement has value,” claims the blurb for this intriguing fitness app. It tracks your steps but then converts them into its “Sweatcoin” virtual currency, which you can exchange for rewards including clothing and fitness classes. It sounds too good to be true, but it will be interesting to follow its progress.

WRIO Keyboard (£2.29)
Clumsy-thumbed iPhone users may appreciate the latest alternative-keyboard app to be released for their smartphones. Taking up nearly half the screen, WRIO is trying to “get rid of typos” with its honeycomb layout. It takes a bit of getting used to, but its large keys and swipe gestures can speed up your typing.

Bushido Bear.
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Bushido Bear has plenty of twists as you unlock and upgrade characters

Bushido Bear (Free + IAP)
Spry Fox is the developer behind the outstanding puzzlers Triple Town and Alphabear, and it’s kept the latter’s theme for this action title. It’s a bit Fruit Ninja-esque as you swipe your finger around the screen to attack enemies, but with plenty of twists of its own as you unlock and upgrade characters.

Hungry Shark World (Free + IAP)
The Hungry Shark games are closing in on 300m downloads on mobile, which is a just reward for their fun – and often bloody – take on aquatic life. Here, you’re playing various sharks, exploring the ocean and taking bites out of fish, crabs and humans as you grow.

GodFinger 2 (Free + IAP)
The original GodFinger was a fun take on god-gaming from the earlier days of mobile games. This sequel feels fresh in 2016, happily, as you cater to the whims of your tribe of followers on a rotatable planet, crafting goods, growing crops and letting loose lightning and rain to make the world just right.

INKS. (£1.49 + IAP)
The developer State of Play Games made the wonderful Lumino City last year, but now it’s turning its attention to pinball. The twist here is that as you play, your ball sploshes the scenery with digital paint: an inventive combination of art and play. The play is well-crafted too. One of the best pinball games on mobile.

Hatoful Boyfriend (£3.99)
This is definitely the best “visual novel/avian dating sim” in the world, although admittedly, it’s the only one. It’s hard to describe Hatoful Boyfriend to a stranger without getting odd looks: you play a (human) student at a school whose other pupils are all birds. And yes, flirting with them is a key part of the gameplay. Quirky, to say the least, but rather marvellous too.

War Tortoise (Free + IAP)
Thankfully you’re not romancing aggressively-militaristic shelled reptiles in this game. Instead, the War Tortoise of the title is a tank kitted out with all manner of heavy weaponry. Your job is to use it to blast anything and everything, while building up your own resources and defences. It’s accessible and excellent.

Liyla and The Shadows of War (Free)
This game caused a stir recently when Apple rejected the iOS version because of its politicial themes. The company saw sense, and this game set in the Gaza Strip has been picking up rave reviews. Presenting a Palestinian viewpoint on the conflict there, it’s a sign of how games can offer perspectives on real-world warfare and political situations.

Leap Day (Free + IAP)
This colourful platform game offers plenty of nostalgic thrills for longtime gamers, but it also has a modern twist: each day, the developer Nitrome makes a new level available, with the idea being that players complete it to fill up their in-game calendar. Which might seem like a gimmick, but the game is really fun.

Mekorama (Free + IAP)
Mekorama has been compared with the mobile hit Monument Valley, which is understandable given its isometric puzzles. It’s very good, though, and its killer feature is the ability to create and share your own levels, as well as playing those made by other players.

Britney Spears: American Dream (Free + IAP)
The developer Glu Mobile had a hit with Kim Kardashian’s mobile game and a miss with Katy Perry’s, so it’s hoping Britney Spears will follow the former’s path. Assuming you’re a fan, it’s a fun social game that sees your character making their way in the pop world. Read our full review for more details.

Those are our choices, now tell us yours. What iOS apps and games have you been enjoying in the last month, and what do you think of the ones we’ve recommended above? The comments section is open for your thoughts.


The good folks at Make: have been working with open-source homeautomation software OpenHAB to make a touch-screen device to interact with yourhouse.

home automation led control

OpenHAB allows you to control objects in your house with voice commands; tomonitor sensor networks; to set up rules for your devices via email or IFTTT, and awhole lot more. The device this video shows you how to build can interact with upto 150 different smart home products, and provide an interface for control and taskscheduling.

For this project, you’ll be building your own array of neopixels (which are great forkitchen counter lighting and for adding some mood colour to lighting schemes, ifyou’re looking for an excuse to get started) rather than interfacing with a pre-builtdevice, so you can get right into the guts of what’s going on here. Other devices areeasy to add once you’ve got the base model built. Here’s Jordan Bunker to get youstarted.

You can read more about this project over at Make:, where there’s a step-by-stepguide with photos to accompany the video.

UBC team wins prize for device that helps people “see” sound

CKNW reported on four UBC students who won 25,000 euros at the Ericsson Innovation Awards in Stockholm for Sound Vision, a software application that turns 3D spatial information into sounds and could help visually-impaired people navigate their surroundings. 

Students Karan Grover, Tanha Kabir, Jonathan Ho, and YK Sugishita, competed against 843 teams from 72 countries.

“We really wanted to develop a product that was for blind people. So we really took the initiative to talk to blind people and see what were their pains, instead of just developing product from our perspective,” said Jonathan Ho.

Bumblebees’ Little Hairs Can Sense Flowers’ Electric Fields

Scientists say bumblebees can sense flowers' electric fields through the bees' fuzzy hairs.

Scientists say bumblebees can sense flowers’ electric fields through the bees’ fuzzy hairs.

Jens Meyer/AP

Flowers generate weak electric fields, and a new study shows that bumblebees canactually sense those electric fields using the tiny hairs on their fuzzy little bodies.

“The bumblebees can feel that hair bend and use that feeling to tell the differencebetween flowers,” says Gregory Sutton, a Royal Society University Research Fellow atthe University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

People used to think that perceiving natural electric fields was something that animalsonly did in water. Sharks and eels can do it, for example. The platypus and spinyanteaters were the only land critters known have electroreceptive organs, but thesehave to be submerged in water in order to work.

Then, a few years ago, Sutton and his colleagues showed that bumblebees could senseelectric fields in the air.

“There is, all the time, a background electric field in the atmosphere,” says Sutton,”Any plant that’s connected to the ground will generate its own electric field just byinteractions with the atmosphere.”

He wondered if bumblebees could sense those electric fields and use them in someway. So his team tested that idea with the help of a bunch of almost identical artificialflowers.

The scientists took half of the flowers and put 30 volts on them, then filled them withsugar water. The other flowers were filled with a bitter liquid. “And the bees willeventually learn to go to the ones that are charged to 30 volts,” says Sutton.

When they turned off the voltage, the bees lost the ability to differentiate between theflowers and began to forage randomly, showing that the bees really were relying onthose electric fields.

But how were the bumblebees able to sense them? That’s what the researchers tackedin their latest study, described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We used a laser beam that could measure small motions of an antenna or a hair, andthat’s how we measured how much the air and the antenna moved in response to anelectric field,” says Sutton.

They also stuck a very fine electrode wire into the nerve at the socket of the bottom of ahair to record the activity of nerve cells there.

“They’ve got these really fuzzy hairs all over their body, and when they approachsomething with an electric field, that electric field will bend the hairs on their body,”says Sutton. And that bending generates a nerve signal.

The results suggest that bumblebees can sense an electric fields produced by a flowerthat’s up to 55 centimeters (nearly 22 inches) away. But that’s under ideal conditionsin the lab—Sutton says 10 centimeters or so (about 4 inches) is more likely in the realworld.

“I’m very excited by this because these little mechanically-sensitive hairs are commonall over the insect world,” says Sutton. “I think this might be something we see in moreinsects than just bumblebees.”

“Basically this just adds to the long list of incredible things that bees can do,” saysRobert Gegear, who studies pollinating insects at Worcester Polytechnic Institute inWorcester, Massachusetts.

He says it’s unclear if bees really use electric fields in the real world, where flowershave a ton of other compelling features like color and smell.

“And so the one question I have is ‘What is the functional relevance?’— not just fromthe bee side but from the plant side as well,” says Gegear.

For all we know, Gegear says, bumblebees may detect electric fields for something thathas nothing to do with flowers, like navigation or communication.

HTC smartwatch reportedly delayed to the fall

HTC’s long rumoured smartwatch has been delayed once again, according to noted leaker Evan Blass.

In his latest tweet on the subject, dated to late last week, Blass says, in colourful language, that the wearable’s release date has been pushed back to this fall.

This is just the latest delay for a device that has been pushed back a number of times already. HTC has reportedly been working on this smartwatch since 2013. In February, Blass said the company was prepared to unveil the device alongside its latest smartphone, the HTC 10.

He then revised that outlook in a later tweet, noting the watch’s unveiling waspushed back to the start of June.

Now it looks like HTC is waiting for the release of Android Wear 2, which Google unveiled at its annual I/O developer conference earlier in the month.

This isn’t the first time HTC has taken its time getting a wearable out into the market. Like its upcoming smartwatch, the company’s fitness band was delayed multiple times before it was announced as the Under Armour Band. The band, which comes optionally as part of the company’s comprehensive fitness platform UA HealthBox, came out in Canada last week.