Designers Look to Ballerinas, Lions for Inspiration to Revamp the Family Car

The image of a lion influenced designers of the Volvo S90.

A yearslong slump in sedan sales has forced designers to seek inspiration from some unorthodox sources to tempt buyers away from beefy pickups, SUVs and crossovers.

For Ian Cartabiano, who was charged with revamping Toyota Motor Corp.’s iconic Camry sedan, ballet dancers and catamarans sparked some ideas. The car’s pronounced front end with its deep grill, for instance, includes elements derived from the view of an oncoming twin-hulled sailboat.

“I didn’t want to do a vanilla car,” said Mr. Cartabiano, who this fall will see the result of work sketched out four years ago hit the showrooms. “We wanted people to say, ‘Man! I really want to get into this Camry,’” he said.

Toyota’s 2018 Camry sedan includes elements derived from the view of an oncoming catamaran.PHOTOS:BLOOMBERG NEWS; REX SHUTTERSTOCK/ZUMA PRESS

Once the dominant body style on American roads, passenger cars now make up 38% of U.S. vehicle sales, down from nearly half in 2014.

But even though auto makers make most of their money on thirsty pickups and SUVs, they can’t give up on sedans. The companies have billions of dollars in production capacity devoted to the body style, with lengthy production cycles that make short-term adjustments impossible. Plus, gas prices might rise, and the smaller vehicles help auto makers meet federal emissions mandates.

All this has prompted car companies to overhaul three dozen midsize and large cars for the 2017-2019 model years, and to look further afield for design cues to boost curb appeal.

Volvo says its new S90 was inspired by a lion. Hyundai’s new Sonata was modeled after a sprinter in the blocks. Honda flew a 3-D model of the 2018 Accord from Japan to Los Angeles to get the “correct light” to show “sharp edges and contrasts generated from the sculpted bulging surfaces,” said chief exterior designer Tetsuji Morikawa.

“They want people to give the sedan at least one look before moving on to a more popular body style,” AutoPacific Inc. product analyst Dave Sullivan said. “Whatever it takes to get you in the seat.”

Sedan designers are getting their first look at how their creations fared, with auto magazines publishing stories that call the Camry “radical” and the Sonata “aggressive.” The cars hit dealer lots in coming months, and initial sales numbers will signal whether the designs successfully rekindled interest.

Auto makers aren’t only focused on sexier sheet metal. Bob Boniface, head of General Motors Co.’s Buick design, said engineers are tweaking everything from the way a trunk works to the way a headlight functions to boost appeal.

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata was inspired by a track runner in the starting blocks.
The 2018 Hyundai Sonata was inspired by a track runner in the starting blocks. PHOTO: HYUNDAI MOTOR

“The days of offering a bread-and-butter car are long gone,” he said at an event where GM showed off an updated version of the Buick Regal. The car’s front end uses a “hook light” and a restyled “winged grille” to breathe new life into the brand’s “aeronautical design language.”

Designers in 2017 face challenges that stylists could largely ignore during the sedan’s golden age, when tail fins and chrome were commonplace.

Stringent requirements for hood measurements and other safety regulations force designers to abide by strict rules, Mr. Boniface said. And, sedan design hasn’t until recently been an area that encourages risk-taking.

Mr. Cartabiano, the designer of the 2018 Camry, said recent sedans haven’t elicited enough passion. He said crossover vehicles—typically roomy and bulbous wagons based on the architecture of a car—are the hot body style, but they don’t have the same potential as sedans when it comes to design.

“There’s something sensual and heart-tugging about a sleek and sexy car that can’t be provided by a crossover,” he said. This is why Toyota turned to a ballerina on a beam: “The idea was the movement of a dancer was beautiful and rhythmic…the beam represented strength.”

Hyundai Motor Co. broke the mold on exteriors early in this decade with an edgy and aggressive-looking Sonata. Critics, however, panned a redesigned Sonata for 2015, calling it overly conservative and boring.

Edward Kim, a designer in Hyundai’s California studio, was charged with injecting “wow factor” in the 2018 version. He said he modeled the profile of the car from a runner crouching at the starting line before a race. To add heft to the grille, he also incorporated cues from a catamaran and pulled in imagery from the steelmaking process.

Swedish designers several years ago went to work sculpting the 2017 Volvo S90, a large sedan that had gone several years without a major freshening. Tisha Johnson, a senior director of design at the company, said the company’s new engineering platform for large vehicles allowed a much “lower, wider, longer” profile. Known for Scandinavian materials and influences in its cars, staffers found inspiration on a different continent.

“This guy here doesn’t have to do anything flamboyant to get people to understand what he’s about,” Ms. Johnson said, pointing to an image of a lion at a seminar on the new car last year.



Gaming: a question of skill

Gaming in India is rapidly gaining acceptance, by both customers and legislators. But the question is, what exactly is it, how is it currently treated in India, and what are the best practices followed abroad that can be adopted here to regulate the industry as well as earn the government increased tax revenue?

What is gaming?

Although ‘gaming’ in popular parlance has taken on the meaning of playing computer or video games, the term is in fact a reference to competitive activities — like rummy, chess, bridge, and the like — that are not categorised as sports, as well as the betting that is done on them. For example, not only does horse racing come under gaming, but so does betting on what horse will win.

There are some industry players who believe that betting on sports such as cricket should also come under gaming and be termed as games of skill. Regulating sports betting will bring it into the light and will prevent match-fixing, they argue. The Lodha Committee report, too, recommends this course of action.

FICCI, in a report in 2013, had said that the government stands to earn about Rs. 7,200 crore a year from taxes from only half the Rs. 3 lakh crore gaming industry in India.

How is gaming treated across States in India?

The regulation of gaming in India is fragmented, with each state currently deciding the rules applicable in its jurisdiction, with variations emerging on the definition of gaming, the kinds of games that qualify, and the punishments meted out for indulging in gaming not allowed by law.

For example, Sikkim has the Sikkim Online Gambling (Regulation) Act, 2008 that only looks at online gaming, and not at activities conducted in brick and mortar gaming houses. The Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill, Act, 2015 only permits skill-based games, defined as all games where there is a preponderance of skill over chance.

The Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955 penalises the operation of a gaming-house and imposes a penalty for being found in a gaming-house. However, Section 13 of the Delhi Act exempts games of “mere skill” from its ambit.

Laws in other states such as Goa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan are variations of this format. The All India Gaming Federation has asked the Law Commission — tasked with looking into the regulation of gaming — to consider proposing a nation-wide central gaming law.

What can India learn from other countries?

The U.K. enacted an updated gambling law in 2005 that provided for the creation of a Gambling Commission, which was tasked with crime prevention, the promotion of an open and transparent gaming and gambling industry, and the protection of vulnerable people from the ills and dangers of gambling. The country further updated this legislation in 2014.

Spain has set a 25% tax rate on gambling revenue, among the highest in Europe, and requires customers to provide their unique national identification numbers, names, and addresses before they can be registered to gamble.

Other countries like Singapore, Malta, and the Isle of Man, have robust gaming legislations that can provide good examples of how India can regulate gaming and gambling while increasing government tax revenue, and curtailing misuse.



Trader fears bombshell is coming for Apple investors


Trading Nation: Buy Apple ahead of earnings?

Trading Nation: Buy Apple ahead of earnings?  Friday, 28 Jul 2017 | 2:51 PM ET | 02:19

Apple shares have fallen for three straight sessions, heading into its quarterly earnings report scheduled for Tuesday after the bell. Some strategists are predicting that an iPhone 8 bombshell on the company conference call could further spook investors.

“I don’t think this looks good here right now; I would sit back and wait on Apple,” Eddy Elfenbein, portfolio manager at AdvisorShares, said Friday on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.”

“Remember, Apple is losing market share globally, but the key thing is this iPhone 8. Are we talking about the same customers buying a slightly improved thing, or is Apple opening the door and bringing in new investors?” Elfenbein said.

RBC Capital Markets said in a report last month that the new iPhone could face delays and the release may occur in October or November. The report reiterated some concerns brought to the fore by other firms like Cowen and Co.

As for Apple’s quarterly earnings, Elfenbein is more optimistic: “Well, spoiler alert, they’re going to beat earnings for this past quarter. But what people want to look for is that forward guidance.”

Specifically, investors will look for guidance on the next iPhone release and data about recurring revenue from the App Store, he said. Innovation (or the appearance of a lack thereof) has been the subject of some debate around Apple recently. In an interview earlier this month, Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson told CNBC that Apple is “no longer the most innovative of companies.”

Over the week ended Friday, Wall Street estimates for Apple’s revenue came down by $1 billion, and down by 5 cents on earnings per share, said Michael Olson, a senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray. He rates Apple a buy with a price target of $150.34 that implies just more than 1 percent of upside.

“So, our expectation here is an in-line June quarter. For the September quarter, there could be a little bit of a downside in the guidance relative to where the Street is,” Olson said Friday on “Power Lunch.”

“So basically what’s happening is … where there’s smoke, there’s fire. People have seen enough rumors about potential for the iPhone to launch later than expected,” he added.



Update your phone’s operating system – it possibly has a malware vulnerability

It’s worth updating your phone’s operating system as soon as you can. Many top-of-the-line handsets have been found to have a vulnerability that potentially leaves them exposed to a malware attack.

The vulnerability (dubbed Broadpwn) affects the Wi-Fi chips on iPhones, Samsung Galaxy and Google Nexus devices. The name comes from the manufacturer of these chips, Broadcom.

The vulnerability was discovered by Nitay Artenstein, a researcher presenting at the Black Hat information security conference in Las Vegas.

It has now been patched, but you need to make sure that you are on iOS 10.3.3 if you’re an iPhone user, or have the July security update for Android to ensure the fix is on your device.

What is remarkable about this exploit is that that it is truly remote, meaning that it requires no action from the victim, the attacker doesn’t need to know anything about the device they are targeting, and the system can be taken over without crashing.

Spreading like wildfire, but it has limitations

An attacker can write programs directly onto the chipset, and as it’s the Wi-Fi chip the program can easily spread between devices, with the only criteria being that the devices are physically near each other.

Artenstein provided a proof of concept on stage at the event by infecting a Samsung Galaxy device with his “worm” and then leaving it alone to infect another nearby Samsung phone with no further input from him, or any action required on the second handset.

The implications of this are fairly obvious, as an exploit of this kind could spread from handset to handset like a real virus.

The good news is that even without the patch, the exploit still has its limitations. It can only affect the Wi-Fi chip, and not the entire handset, meaning it could stop your Wi-Fi working but that’s about it. There would need to be a second vulnerability for it to infect more of the phone.

Artenstein’s proof of concept does add one extra insult to injury; any infected phone broadcasts the message “I’m pwned”, but


Over 12 lakh businesses apply for new GST registration

Representative photograph

the figure is too low it should be at double figureNitesh

NEW DELHI: Over 12 lakh businesses have applied for fresh registration under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia has said.

Of these, while 10 lakh applications for registration have been approved, 2 lakh are still pending approval.

“The figure of new registrations approved in GST crosses 10 lakhs today. About 2 lakh applications pending in process,” Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia tweeted.

Also during the course of the year, if a business becomes liable to register under GST, it needs to apply for registration within 30 days from becoming liable for it.

Although businesses with turnover of up to Rs 20 lakh are exempt from GST and hence registration is not mandatory, traders and manufacturers are getting themselves registered so that the input tax credit can be passed on in the supply chain.

 When a business registers under GST, it is given a provisional GSTIN. After that, in the second stage, the business has to log in to the GSTN portal and furnish details of its business including the main place of business, additional place, directors and bank account details.

Apple has removed VPN apps from China’s App Store

China famously blocks censors the internet within the country, preventing its citizens from accessing websites such as Facebook or Google, and has pushed companies to register their App stores with government regulators or remove content that it deems illegal. Now, it appears that Apple has purged its Chinese App store of major VPN apps, according to The New York Times.

As a result of the country’s online censorship, many citizens and visitors have turned to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as a means to access the sites and content that have been banned by the government. Today, several companies have reported receiving notifications from Apple stating that their Apps have been pulled from the Chinese store.

Image: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN wrote in a blog post that Apple explained that its products violated Chinese law, and said that they found that “all major VPN apps for iOS ave been removed” from the store. Another company, Star VPN, also reported receiving the notice.

ExpressVPN said that it was disappointed to see Apple “aiding China’s censorship agents,” and condemned the removals. The country appears to be pushing back against the usage of VPNs, launching a campaign to block companies from setting up or renting out such networks without official approval earlier this year. Some users — those who have a billing address outside of China — can still download the apps from the App stores from other territories.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment, and will update if we hear back.


New combat survival radio by General Dynamics

A new combat survival radio for downed military pilots, air crew and isolated personnel, has been introduced by General Dynamics Mission Systems.

The HOOK3, announced by the company on Thursday, provides direct line-of-sight voice and encrypted two-way data communications.

“The HOOK3 provides military personnel in emergency situations a highly reliable, easy-to-use, secure radio critical to their successful recovery,” Paul Parent, a vice president of General Dynamics Mission Systems, said in a press release.

It activates and securely transmits location data automatically when specific G-Force or the presence of salt water is detected. It is also 30 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than the company’s HOOK2 radio.

Hook3, with an embedded GPS module and 32 channels, transmits its data in short bursts to reduce the risk of detection.

General Dynamics said HOOK3 radio is interoperable with HOOK2 radios, and Quickdraw2 and SATCOM Base Station systems used by U.S. and its allies.


Rockwell Collins to support avionics for 160th ‘Night Stalkers’ aviation regiment

Rockwell Collins has received a $30.7 million contract for avionics repair and maintenance work in support of 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment operations.

The contract includes work on the Common Avionics Architecture System, Avionics Management System and Cockpit Management System. Most of the work will be completed in Cedar Rapids, Mo., with a maximum contract performance length lasting until July 31, 2022.

The CAAS is designed to integrate multiple communications, navigation, and mission systems through an open architecture design. It’s cockpit displays are flexible and can be adjusted depending on the mission including cargo, assault, and other missions.

The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), also known as the Night Stalkers, support and execute Army special operations aviation training and operations worldwide.

The unit is equipped with specially modified Black Hawk, Chinook, and Little Bird helicopters for transporting and supporting Special Forces teams and other personnel under demanding conditions for a variety of missions.

Pilots, crew members, and support personnel must be long-term volunteers and go through special selection courses and training.

The unit was first formed in 1981 with soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division and has held its current unit designation since 1990.

The Night Stalkers unit sobriquet comes from having pioneered much of the Army’s modern night flying doctrine. They have seen continuous operations and deployment since October 2001 and have been expanded to four battalions to meet mission demand.


Sikorksy to supply Black Hawks for Australian firefighting

 Sikorsky, Kaan Air Australia and StarFlight Australia have signed an agreement worth up to $50 million for 10 UH-60 Black Hawks to be converted to firefighting platforms.

The agreement would procure 10 former U.S. Army Black Hawks to be refurbished in Brisbane, Australia, and converted into aerial firebombers to combat brushfires and civil emergency situations.

The agreement includes options for the future purchase of 10 more Black Hawks for similar service. The helicopters would be operated by aerial service provider StarFlight for emergency response.

Kaan Air and StarFlight chief executive officer John Skeene said that the deal would be a big step for Australian aviation.

“The helicopters are being purchased by an Australian company, will be registered in Australia and most importantly, will be fully maintained and supported in Australia by the helicopter OEM Sikorsky and its supply chain commitment,” Skeene said in a press release.

The planned refurbishment will include engine upgrades, gear boxes and the installation of terrain avoidance systems along with firefighting modifications.

The UH-50 Black Hawk is the primary medium-lift transport helicopter of the U.S. Army and several other nations where it has been exported. It has been produced in many variants to perform a wide variety of missions.

Over 4,000 Black Hawks have been produced since the platforms introduction in 1974. The U.S. Navy uses a ship-launched version of the platform known as the CH-60 Sea Hawk.


Five to Try: The Elder Scrolls: Legends launches, and build with bricks and code with LEGO Boost

fivetotry july28 lead

As we get deeper into summer, some truly sweaty and agonizingly hot days may be ahead—depending on where you live, of course. But no matter your location, if you’re looking for some fresh reasons to stay inside with your Android phone, then we’ve got you covered with our latest Five to Try picks.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends leads this week’s list of the Play Store’s hottest debuts, as the fantasy game universe gets the Hearthstone-esque collectible card-battler treatment. Also new is the LEGO Boost app, which pairs with a new set of blocks and gizmos that let you build, code, and control robotic LEGO creations. If you’re looking for further options, Gratus, Galaxy of Pen & Paper, and Revenge of Shinobi round out this week’s list. So grab a few fresh apps and enjoy a little cool comfort away from the sun this weekend.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends

fivetotry july28 elderscrollslegendsIDG
Hearthstone? Nope, it’s the Elder Scrolls rendition.

Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is the undisputed king of the competitive card game market right now, but here’s another heavy-hitting fantasy favorite to challenge its reign. The Elder Scrolls: Legends is Bethesda’s attempt to shake up the card-battling scene with its own free-to-play tie-in, which is set in the same universe as epic console and PC adventures like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls Online.

The fundamentals aren’t significantly different from Hearthstone: It’s still a head-to-head showdown in which you’ll bring your best deck of spells and fighters into battle, but a dual-lane approach shakes things up here. Also, Legends has a less cartoonish aesthetic, and the story mode should appeal strongly to fans of the franchise. Legends already has a following on PC, and it hits Android with the new Heroes of Skyrim expansion included, which adds a bunch of content inspired by that aforementioned favorite.

LEGO Boost

fivetotry july28 legoboost prLEGO
Just try to imagine that’s an Android tablet in the photo.

Got a kid at home who loves tinkering with LEGO bricks and is handy with a touchscreen? Be sure to check out LEGO Boost. The app is available now ahead of next week’s release of the $160 starter kit. LEGO Boost is like a simpler, more streamlined alternative to LEGO Mindstorms, allowing kids (and some adults) to create different types of robots and then control them via the Android app.

It imparts light coding fundamentals, although zero knowledge is needed to use the drag-and-drop interface. You will, however, need an Android tablet with at least an eight-inch screen as the app unfortunately doesn’t work with smartphones. With the app and kit, you can create rolling robots, meowing cat-bots, and even an AutoBuilder machine that builds smaller LEGO creations. The buy-in price is high and the tablet requirement might limit its reach, but LEGO Boost looks like brainy fun for tech-interested tykes (LEGO suggests ages 7-12).


fivetotry july28 gratusIDG
Don’t tell my family what I said about pizza.

In the midst of struggle, hardship, and frustration, it can be easy to overlook or forget about all of the great things we have going for us in life. That’s exactly why Gratus was created. Don’t worry, it’s not another social networking tool—we don’t need any more of those. Basically, it’s just a log for storing the things you’re thankful for.

Love your family, your dog, your lunch, a shady tree outside your office, or anything else in life? Make an entry in your personal Gratus log. The next time you’re down, feeling hopeless, or just need a reason to smile, fire it up. According to the Play Store listing, the app is designed to “promote good vibes and positivity,” and that really does seem to be the extent of it. If you get hooked on Gratus, you can pay $3 for an optional premium unlock, which adds a daily prompt, a widget, and passcode/fingerprint protection. Otherwise, it’s free to use.