Electronics Stories November 20, 2014

The Nest smoke detector may look decidedly old-fashioned if one Apple patent ever makes it into production. Apple has patented the idea of embedding smoke detectors into “electronic devices” and using those devices to provide a comprehensive response to a fire.

In response to detecting smoke with the smoke detector, the electronic device may issue an alert or take other suitable action. The electronic device may transmit alerts to nearby electronic devices and to remote electronic devices such as electronic devices at emergency services facilities. Alerts may contain maps and graphical representations of buildings in which smoke has been detected. Motion detectors and other sensors and circuitry may be used in determining whether electronic devices are being used by users and may be used in determining where the electronic devices are located. Alerts may contain information on the location of detected smoke and building occupants.

In other words, your Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad or Mac could detect smoke, alert you, alert other devices within range, activate sprinklers, call emergency services and use the fact that an iDevice is moving or in use to tell fire crews where in the building you and your family members are …  expand full story

Electronics Stories February 13, 2014

Apple’s eighth annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report highlights the progress made on reducing child labor and enforcing working hour limits, and shows a significant increase in the environmental standards Apple’s suppliers are expected to meet.

The number of cases of underage workers fell from 106 last year to 11 this year. Compliance with Apple’s requirement of a maximum working week of 60 hours hit 95 percent, with 97 percent meeting the requirement of at least one day off a week. Apple reported that the average working week of a supply chain employee was less than 50 hours …  expand full story

Electronics Stories November 14, 2013

Europeans get to use in-flight gadgets too, as EASA mirrors FAA ruling (Update: 3G & 4G too)

Following the FAA ruling, permitting the use of portable electronic devices during all phases of flight, the European Aviation Safety Authority has announced that it too will be issuing the same guidance by the end of the month.

This will allow passengers on European airlines to use tablets, smartphones and ebook readers from gate to gate, provided that they are placed in Airplane mode at the gate.

American airlines wasted no time in implementing the FAA guidance, so here’s hoping for similar speed for those of us on the other side of the pond.

Update: The EC has now also approved both 3G and 4G network use on board aircraft. This would allow airlines to install mini base stations in their aircraft, with signals relayed via their own on-board radio equipment. I’m desperately hoping airlines won’t allow voice calls …

Via The Verge

Electronics Stories November 7, 2013

Airlines implement gate-to-gate handheld device rules faster than expected

United and American have joined Delta and Jet Blue in permitting gate-to-gate use of portable electronic devices, following the FAA ruling making it legal to do so.

The FAA had said at the time that airlines would need to perform individual tests to demonstrate that the use of electronic devices during all phases of flight would be safe, and had suggested that this might take some time. With the announcement expected as long ago as March, however, it appears that several airlines undertook this testing in advance of the formal ruling.

There has still been no clarification on what constitutes a ‘handheld’ device, but airlines so far appear to be saying yes to tablets and ebook readers and no to laptops. With many tablet and Bluetooth keyboard combos being visually indistinguishable from ultrabooks to non-technical cabin crews, we shall watch with interest to see how the rules are enforced.

Electronics Stories October 31, 2013

As expected, FAA permits use of electronic devices during all phases of flight

As first intimated back in March and pretty much a done deal in September, the FAA has confirmed that use of portable electronic devices by airline passengers will be permitted from gate to gate. Cellular devices must be in flight mode throughout, and you cannot make voice calls, even via Wi-Fi.

The ruling only gives the go-ahead to airlines, so there’s no saying when individual airlines might start applying the policy, but it’s unlikely to be before next year.

One uncertainty remains: the FAA says that approval is for ‘lightweight’ devices and gives examples, but doesn’t actually specify a weight.

Once an airline verifies the tolerance of its fleet, it can allow passengers to use handheld, lightweight electronic devices – such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones—at all altitudes

It’s not immediately clear whether the permission includes laptops. Given the rather thin line between a lightweight laptop and a tablet, not to mention the difficulty non-technical cabin crew would have distinguishing a tablet with keyboard accessory from a laptop, this seems something of an oversight. Perhaps the rules should allow anything with an ‘Air’ in the name …

Electronics Stories September 24, 2013

Fixing a Jumbo Jet? There’s now an iPad app for that …

With iPads already in use on airline flight-decks and cabins, aircraft mechanics will soon be able to use them when carrying out maintenance on Boeing aircraft, reports CNET.

The aviation giant, which makes planes like the 747, 787 Dreamliner, 777, and 737, said that maintenance technicians will be able to use the apps for instant access to airplane manuals, part numbers and inventory, maintenance history, and more. The company said that will help the airlines resolve mechanical issues faster, leading to reduced flight delays and lower costs.

The apps have been trialled with several airlines over the course of a year, and are due to be officially launched this week.

In related news, we reported back in March that the FAA was expected to approve iPads and other electronic equipment to be used in Flightsafe mode throughout a flight (including take-off and landing). It’s now been confirmed that the FAA will be issuing this approval on Friday, though it won’t come into effect until sometime next year.

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