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The East African : December 16th 2013
28 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK DECEMBER 14-20,2013 E -AF R ICAN New smartphone device fixes indoor locations The ≥esea≥che≥s used a backpack that captu≥es St≥eet View-style image≥y indoo≥s as the wea≥e≥ ca≥≥ies it a≥ound By TOM SIMONITE Special Correspondent sor, but those signals are blocked indoors. A new technique uses a device’s camera to get an indoor location fix to an accuracy of within a metre. The technique could enable S new kinds of apps, and may be particularly valuable for wearable computers such as Google Glass. The new location-fixing method is being developed at the University California, Berkeley. It uses a photo from a device’s camera to work out the location and orientation of the device. It does this by matching the photo against a database of panoramic imagery of a building’s interior, similar to the outside views offered by Google’s Street View. The system can deduce the device’s location because it knows the position of every image in that database. The researchers used a special backpack that captures Street Viewstyle imagery indoors as the wearer carries it around. It has two fisheye cameras, laser scanners, and other sensors. The software uses the data col- lected to generate a map of the building’s interior, a stitched-together set of panoramas, and a database of individual images that can be used for location lookups. martphones locate themselves outdoors using a GPS sen- smartphone’s camera against the database of images, the researchers report in a paper on their tests. When the matches were turned into location fixes, most came out with an error of less than a metre from the device’s true location. Ms Zakhor said her approach compares favourably with competing methods of determining location indoors in terms of accuracy and the cost of deployment. Alternative methods include using Bluetooth “beacons” or fingerprinting the pattern of Wi-Fi signals inside a building. Jonathan Ventura, senior re- searcher at the Graz University of Technology Austria, agrees. “The major advantage of image-based localisation is that it works almost everywhere and doesn’t require changing the environment in any way,” he said. Ms Zakhor’s group isn’t the only one capturing such data: Google has begun taking its Street View product inside and announced last month that it had documented the interiors of 16 airports and over 50 train sta- tions. Mr Ventura’s own THE DEVICE The new location-fixing method being developed at the University of California, Berkeley uses a photo from a device’s camera to work out the location and orientation of the device. It matches the photo against a database of panoramic imagery of a building’s interior, similar to the outside views offered by Google’s Street View. The system can deduce the device’s location because it knows the position of every image in that database. “You can provide that blue dot you see on a mobile map when out-ofdoors for interiors,” said Avideh Zakhor, who leads the Berkeley group developing the system. Mr Zakhor previously sold a 3D city mapping company to Google that became a major part of Google Earth’s 3D virtual globe. Ms Zakhor and colleagues have tested their system in buildings on the Berkeley campus and in a mall in Fremont, California. In tests at the mall, they successfully matched more than 96 per cent of images taken by a smartphone’s research focuses on augmented reality. He said that if devices can be located very ac- curately, it will allow for the virtual and real worlds to be closely aligned. Ms Zakhor is planning tests of her method on computerised glasses, with the intention of having the devices use snapshots to track their location, making it possible to provide a map of an interior space in a person’s field of vision. The Berkeley research group is also working on using data from Wi-Fi signals collected by their backpack to provide a secondary method of deducing a device’s indoor location. NYT Syndicate Service New pay TV station launches se≥vice in Tanzania By SYLVAIN BELETRE Special Correspondent A NEW pay-TV service is positioning itself to give established players such as Multichoice’s DStv more competition in what is essentially a nascent sector in Tanzania AzamTV, a subsidiary of Azam Media, is a pay TV service that will carry up to 60 African and international channels, for a monthly subscription of $8. Tanzania is becoming one of the most com- petitive African countries both from an audience and TV offering perspective, despite limited terrestrial broadcast coverage (just reaching 24 per cent of the population) a restricted consumer market and relatively limited broadband access. There are three main pay TV players in the country: StarTimes Tanzania, Star Media Tanzania and Zuku. Star Media Tanzania, a joint venture between Chinese StarTimes at 65 per cent and the government’s Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) at 35 per cent, markets monthly bouquets ranging in price from $5.60 to $22.50. Zuku charges a monthly subscription from Installing a satellite dish. AzamTV says it will change viewership in Dar. Pic: File $9.73. It is available via satellite in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania — and has announced it will go to Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Zambia. Dstv is the leading pay TV service, with about 80 TV channels via digital satellite. AzamTV has home-grown channels and programmes, sports content, and exclusive rights. The TV network has been awarded exclusive televi- sion broadcast rights for the Vodacom Premier League. AzamTV will broadcast live and recorded Tanzania Premier League matches and carry them on free-to-air channels in each of the countries it covers. “With so many fans across Tanzania desper- ately keen to watch their favourite teams, it seems an unnecessary waste not to make these matches available straight away. So, with that in mind, I approached our friends at TBC and asked if they would be willing and able to take our live feed at no charge, beginning this weekend, until the mid-season break.” said Rhys Torrington, CEO of Azam Media. Azam Media is owned by Tanzanian con- glomerate Bakhresa Group, which is involved in several sectors including food, football, agroprocessing, petroleum, transport and plastics. The company is looking to attract 750,000 households in the next five years. The TV network has signed on satellite opera- tor Eutelsat Communications in a bid to expand its broadcasting footprint across Africa. The deal entails a long-term contract for capacity on the EUTELSAT 7A satellite. BRIEFS Online money transfer for Kenya launched in UK An online money transfer service focusing on the UK–Kenya corridor has been launched in the UK. The online service is a product of mobile money firm Fastacash and is accessible through mobile devices and computers. Fastacash can be accessed either through a browser, an iOS or Android app. Once registered, users can send money to any bank account in Kenya and to all M-Pesa mobile accounts holders. Fastacash is targeting the fast-growing Kenyan community in the UK and will initially focus on groups that send remittances to Kenya, which currently stand at approximately $374 million per year. More Africans to shop online this season: DHL The festive season is expected to drive more e-commerce in Africa, with people flocking to online retail stores to order Christmas gifts online, according to express courier service DHL. With broadband access more readily available and mobile data now affordable, DHL said more people in sub-Saharan Africa are choosing to shop online, given the possibility to browse products at length and to buy products that are sold at a geographically remote location. Kenyan firms recognised at SAP Quality awards Kenyan firms, Antarc Office, Home Furniture and Kenafric scooped three awards at the recently held SAP Quality awards gala in Johannesburg, South Africa, indicating a move by most firms to embrace IT platforms to run their business efficiently. Antarc was named gold winner in the small enterprise category for its successful implementation of SAP Business One that made what the judges called “an immediate business impact.” The awards celebrate customers who have excelled in the planning and execution of their SAP software implementations. Sudan has larger broadband potential Sudan and South Sudan have a larger potential broadband market than Ethiopia, despite the latter having one of Africa’s biggest populations. This is according to a study by Frost & Sullivan on the increasing uptake of broadband services in Ethiopia, Sudan (including South Sudan) and Rwanda. The study says that the combined broadband market revenue in these countries is forecast to hit $159.2 million by 2017, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8.1% from 2011.
December 9th 2013
December 23rd 2013