Wednesday, April 16. 2014
Qualcomm is getting high on 64-bit chips with its fastest ever Snapdragon processor, which will render 4K video, support LTE Advanced and could run the 64-bit Android OS.
The new Snapdragon 810 is the company’s “highest performing” mobile chip for smartphones and tablets, Qualcomm said in a statement. Mobile devices with the 64-bit chip will ship in the first half of next year, and be faster and more power-efficient. Snapdragon chips are used in handsets with Android and Windows Phone operating systems, which are not available in 64-bit form yet.
The Snapdragon 810 is loaded with the latest communication and graphics technologies from Qualcomm. The graphics processor can render 4K (3840 x 2160 pixel) video at 30 frames per second, and 1080p video at 120 frames per second. The chip also has an integrated modem that supports LTE and its successor, LTE-Advanced, which is emerging.
The 810 also is among the first mobile chips to support the latest low-power LPDDR4 memory, which will allow programs to run faster while consuming less power. This will be beneficial, especially for tablets, as 64-bit chips allow mobile devices to have more than 4GB of memory, which is the limit on current 32-bit chips.
The quad-core chip has a mix of high-power ARM Cortex-A57 CPU cores for demanding tasks and low-power A53 CPU cores for mundane tasks like taking calls, messaging and MP3 playback. The multiple cores ensure more power-efficient use of the chip, which helps extend battery life of mobile devices.
The company also introduced a Snapdragon 808 six-core 64-bit chip. The chips will be among the first made using the latest 20-nanometer manufacturing process, which is an advance from the 28-nm process used to make Snapdragon chips today.
Qualcomm now has to wait for Google to release a 64-bit version of Android for ARM-based mobile devices. Intel has already shown mobile devices running 64-bit Android with its Merrifield chip, but most mobile products today run on ARM processors. Qualcomm licenses Snapdragon processor architecture and designs from ARM.
Work for 64-bit Android is already underway, and applications like the Chrome browser are already being developed for the OS. Google has not officially commented on when 64-bit Android would be released, but industry observers believe it could be announced at the Google I/O conference in late June.
Qualcomm spokesman Jon Carvill declined to comment on support for 64-bit Android. But the chips are “further evidence of our commitment to deliver top-to-bottom mobile 64-bit leadership across product tiers for our customers,” Carvill said in an email.
Qualcomm’s chips are used in some of the world’s top smartphones, and will appear in Samsung’s Galaxy S5. A Qualcomm executive in October last year called Apple’s A7, the world’s first 64-bit mobile chip, a “marketing gimmick,” but the company has moved on and now has five 64-bit chips coming to medium-priced and premium smartphones and tablets. But no 64-bit Android smartphones are available yet, and Apple has a headstart and remains the only company selling a 64-bit smartphone with its iPhone 5S.
The 810 supports HDMI 1.4 for 4K video output, and the Adreno 430 graphics processor is 30 percent faster on graphics performance and 20 percent more power efficient than the older Adreno 420 GPU. The graphics processor will support 55-megapixel sensors, Qualcomm said. Other chip features include 802.11ac Wi-Fi with built-in technology for faster wireless data transfers, Bluetooth 4.1 and a processing core for location services.
The six-core Snapdragon 808 is a notch down on performance compared to the 810, and also has fewer features. The 808 supports LTE-Advanced, but can support displays with up to 2560 x 1600 pixels. It will support LPDDR3 memory. The chip has two Cortex-A57 CPUs and four Cortex-A53 cores.
The chips will ship out to device makers for testing in the second half of this year.
Monday, March 17. 2014
Via Slash Gear
This week the experimental developer-aimed group known as Google ATAP - aka Advanced Technology and Projects (skunkworks) have announced Project Tango. They’ve suggested Project Tango will appear first as a phone with 3D sensors. These 3D sensors will be able to scan and build a map of the room they’re in, opening up a whole world of possibilities.
The device that Project Tango will release first will be just about as limited-edition as they come. Issued in an edition of 200, this device will be sent to developers only. This developer group will be hand-picked by Google’s ATAP - and sign-ups start today. (We’ll be publishing the sign-up link once active.)
Speaking on this skunkworks project this morning was Google user Johnny Lee. Mister Johnny Lee is ATAP’s technical program lead, and he’ll be heading this project for the public, as you’ll see it. This is the same group that brought you Motorola’s digital tattoos, if you’ll remember.
Monday, February 24. 2014
Qloudlab is the inventor and patent holder of the world’s first touchscreen-based biosensor. We are developing a cost-effective technology that is able to turn your smartphone touchscreen into a medical device for multiple blood diagnostics testing: no plug-in required with just a simple disposable. Our innovation is at the convergence of Smartphones, Healthcare, and Cloud solutions. The development is supported by EPFL (Pr. Philippe Renaud, Microsystems Laboratory) and by a major industrial player in cutting-edge touchscreen solutions for consumer, industrial and automotive products.
Wednesday, February 12. 2014
Via tom's HARDWARE
Taiwanese firm Polytron Technologies has revealed the world's first
fully transparent smartphone prototype. As you can see in the pictures
above and below, the prototype device is almost fully transparent. The
only components visible on the device are the board, chips memory card
Wednesday, October 30. 2013
15.10.13 - Two EPFL spin-offs, senseFly and Pix4D, have modeled the Matterhorn in 3D, at a level of detail never before achieved. It took senseFly’s ultralight drones just six hours to snap the high altitude photographs that were needed to build the model.
They weigh less than a kilo each, but they’re as agile as eagles in the high mountain air. These “ebees” flying robots developed by senseFly, a spin-off of EPFL’s Intelligent Systems Laboratory (LIS), took off in September to photograph the Matterhorn from every conceivable angle. The drones are completely autonomous, requiring nothing more than a computer-conceived flight plan before being launched by hand into the air to complete their mission.
Three of them were launched from a 3,000m “base camp,” and the fourth made the final assault from the summit of the stereotypical Swiss landmark, at 4,478m above sea level. In their six-hour flights, the completely autonomous flying machines took more than 2,000 high-resolution photographs. The only remaining task was for software developed by Pix4D, another EPFL spin-off from the Computer Vision Lab (CVLab), to assemble them into an impressive 300-million-point 3D model. The model was presented last weekend to participants of the Drone and Aerial Robots Conference (DARC), in New York, by Henri Seydoux, CEO of the French company Parrot, majority shareholder in senseFly.
All-terrain and even in swarms
Last week the dynamic Swiss company – which has just moved into new, larger quarters in Cheseaux-sur-Lausanne – also announced that it had made software improvements enabling drones to avoid colliding with each other in flight; now a swarm of drones can be launched simultaneously to undertake even more rapid and precise mapping missions.
Monday, September 09. 2013
Cards are fast becoming the best design pattern for mobile devices.
We are currently witnessing a re-architecture of the web, away from pages and destinations, towards completely personalised experiences built on an aggregation of many individual pieces of content. Content being broken down into individual components and re-aggregated is the result of the rise of mobile technologies, billions of screens of all shapes and sizes, and unprecedented access to data from all kinds of sources through APIs and SDKs. This is driving the web away from many pages of content linked together, towards individual pieces of content aggregated together into one experience.
The aggregation depends on:
If the predominant medium of our time is set to be the portable screen (think phones and tablets), then the predominant design pattern is set to be cards. The signs are already here…
Twitter is moving to cards
Twitter recently launched Cards, a way to attached multimedia inline with tweets. Now the NYT should care more about how their story appears on the Twitter card (right hand in image above) than on their own web properties, because the likelihood is that the content will be seen more often in card format.
Google is moving to cards
Everyone is moving to cards
Pinterest (above left) is built around cards. The new Discover feature on Spotify (above right) is built around cards. Much of Facebook now represents cards. Many parts of iOS7 are now card based, for example the app switcher and Airdrop.
The list goes on. The most exciting thing is that despite these many early card based designs, I think we’re only getting started. Cards are an incredible design pattern, and they have been around for a long time.
Cards give bursts of information
Cards as an information dissemination medium have been around for a very long time. Imperial China used them in the 9th century for games. Trade cards in 17th century London helped people find businesses. In 18th century Europe footmen of aristocrats used cards to introduce the impending arrival of the distinguished guest. For hundreds of years people have handed around business cards.
We send birthday cards, greeting cards. My wallet is full of debit cards, credit cards, my driving licence card. During my childhood, I was surrounded by games with cards. Top Trumps, Pokemon, Panini sticker albums and swapsies. Monopoly, Cluedo, Trivial Pursuit. Before computer technology, air traffic controllers used cards to manage the planes in the sky. Some still do.
Cards are a great medium for communicating quick stories. Indeed the great (and terrible) films of our time are all storyboarded using a card like format. Each card representing a scene. Card, Card, Card. Telling the story. Think about flipping through printed photos, each photo telling it’s own little tale. When we travelled we sent back postcards.
What about commerce? Cards are the predominant pattern for coupons. Remember cutting out the corner of the breakfast cereal box? Or being handed coupon cards as you walk through a shopping mall? Circulars, sent out to hundreds of millions of people every week are a full page aggregation of many individual cards. People cut them out and stick them to their fridge for later.
Cards can be manipulated.
In addition to their reputable past as an information medium, the most important thing about cards is that they are almost infinitely manipulatable. See the simple example above from Samuel Couto Think about cards in the physical world. They can be turned over to reveal more, folded for a summary and expanded for more details, stacked to save space, sorted, grouped, and spread out to survey more than one.
When designing for screens, we can take advantage of all these things. In addition, we can take advantage of animation and movement. We can hint at what is on the reverse, or that the card can be folded out. We can embed multimedia content, photos, videos, music. There are so many new things to invent here.
Cards are perfect for mobile devices and varying screen sizes. Remember, mobile devices are the heart and soul of the future of your business, no matter who you are and what you do. On mobile devices, cards can be stacked vertically, like an activity stream on a phone. They can be stacked horizontally, adding a column as a tablet is turned 90 degrees. They can be a fixed or variable height.
Cards are the new creative canvas
It’s already clear that product and interaction designers will heavily use cards. I think the same is true for marketers and creatives in advertising. As social media continues to rise, and continues to fragment into many services, taking up more and more of our time, marketing dollars will inevitably follow. The consistent thread through these services, the predominant canvas for creativity, will be card based. Content consumption on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Line, you name it, is all built on the card design metaphor.
I think there is no getting away from it. Cards are the next big thing in design and the creative arts. To me that’s incredibly exciting.
Wednesday, July 10. 2013
Via Slash Gear
Samsung and HTC are flirting with advanced home automation control in future Galaxy and One smartphones, it’s reported, turning new smartphones into universal remotes for lighting, entertainment, and more. The two companies are each separately working on plans for what Pocket-lint‘s source describes as “home smartphones” that blur the line between mobile products and gadgets found around the home.
For Samsung, the proposed solution is to embed ZigBee into its new phones, it’s suggested. The low-power networking system – already found in products like Philips’ Hue remote-controlled LED lightbulbs, along with Samsung’s own ZigBee bulbs – creates mesh networks for whole-house coverage, and can be embedded into power switches, thermostats, and more.
Samsung is already a member of the ZigBee Alliance, and has been flirting with remote control functionality – albeit using the somewhat more mundane infrared standard – in its more recent Galaxy phones. The Galaxy S 4, for instance, has an IR blaster that, with the accompanying app, can be used to control TVs and other home entertainment kit.
HTC, meanwhile, is also bundling infrared with its recent devices; the HTC One’s power button is actually also a hidden IR blaster, for instance, and like Samsung the smartphone comes with a TV remote app that can pull in real-time listings and control cable boxes and more. It’s said to be looking to ZigBee RF4CE, a newer iteration which is specifically focused on home entertainment and home automation hardware.
Samsung is apparently considering a standalone ZigBee-compliant accessory dongle, though exactly what they add-on would do is unclear. HTC already has a limited range of accessories for wireless home use, though focused currently on streaming media, such as the Media Link HD.
When we could expect to see the new devices with ZigBee support is unclear, and course it will take more than just a handset update to get a home equipped for automation. Instead, there’ll need to be greater availability – and understanding – of automation accessories, though there Samsung could have an edge given its other divisions make TVs, fridges, air conditioners, and other home tech.
Tuesday, December 04. 2012
Thursday, November 22. 2012
Choosing sides: Google’s new augmented-reality game, Ingress, makes users pick a faction—Enlightened or Resistance—and run around town attacking virtual portals in hopes of attaining world domination
I’m not usually very political, but I recently joined the Resistance, fighting to protect the world against the encroachment of a strange, newly discovered form of energy. Just this week, in fact, I spent hours protecting Resistance territory and attacking the enemy.
Don’t worry, this is just the gloomy sci-fi world depicted in a new smartphone game called Ingress created by Google. Ingress is far from your normal gaming app, though—it takes place, to some degree, in the real world; aspects of the game are revealed only as you reach different real-world locations.
Ingress’s world is one in which the discovery of so-called “exotic matter” has split the population into two groups: the Enlightened, who want to learn how to harness the power of this energy, and the Resistance, who, well, resist this change. Players pick a side, and then walk around their city, collecting exotic matter to keep scanners charged and taking control of exotic-matter-exuding portals in order to capture more land for their team.
I found the game, which is currently available only to Android smartphone users who have received an invitation to play, surprisingly addictive—especially considering my usual apathy for gaming.
What’s most interesting about Ingress, though, is what it suggests about Google’s future plans, which seem to revolve around finding new ways to extend its reach from the browser on your laptop to the devices you carry with you at all times. The goal makes plenty of sense when you consider that traditional online advertising—Google’s bread and butter—could eventually be eclipsed by mobile, location-based advertising.
Ingress was created by a group within Google called Niantic Labs—the same team behind another location-based app released recently (see “Should You Go on Google’s Field Trip?”).
Google is surely gathering a treasure trove of information about where we’re going and what we’re doing while we play Ingress. It must also see the game as a way to explore possible applications for Project Glass, the augmented-reality glasses-based computer that the company will start sending out to developers next year. Ingress doesn’t require a head-mounted display; it uses your smartphone’s display to show a map view rather than a realistic view of your surroundings. Still, it is addictive, and is likely to get many more folks interested in location-based augmented reality, or at least in augmented-reality games.
Despite its futuristic focus, Ingress sports a sort of pseudo-retro look, with a darkly hued map that dominates the screen and a simple pulsing blue triangle that indicates your position. I could only see several blocks in any direction, which meant I had to walk around and explore in order to advance in the game.
For a while, I didn’t know what I was doing, and it didn’t help that Ingress doesn’t include any street names. New users complete a series of training exercises, learning the basics of the game, which include capturing a portal, hacking a portal to snag items like resonators (which control said portals), creating links of exotic matter between portals to build a triangular control field that enhances the safety of team members in the area, and firing an XMP (a “non-polarized energy field weapon,” according to the glossary) at an enemy-controlled portal.
Confused much? I sure was.
But I forged ahead, though, hoping that if I kept playing it would make more sense. I started wandering around looking for portals. Portals are found in public places—in San Francisco, where I was playing, this includes city landmarks such as museums, statues, and murals. Resistance portals are blue, Enlightened ones are green, and there are also some gray ones out there that remain unclaimed.
I found a link to a larger map of the Ingress world that I could access through my smartphone browser and made a list of the best-looking nearby targets. Perhaps this much planning goes against the exploratory spirit of the game, but it made Ingress a lot less confusing for me (there’s also a website that doles out clues about the game and its mythology).
Once I had a plan, I set out toward the portals on my list, all of which were in the Soma and Downtown neighborhoods of San Francisco. I managed to capture two new portals at Yerba Buena Gardens—one at a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. and another at the top of a waterfall—and link them together.
Across the street, in front of the Contemporary Jewish Museum, I hacked an Enlightened portal and fired an XMP at it, weakening its resonators. I was then promptly attacked. I fled, figuring I wouldn’t be able to take down the portal by myself.
A few hours later, much of my progress was undone by a member of Enlightened (Ingress helpfully sends e-mail notifications about such things). I was surprised by how much this pissed me off—I wanted to get those portals back for the Resistance, but pouring rain and the late hour stopped me.
Playing Ingress was a lot more fun than I expected, and from the excited chatter in the game’s built-in chat room, it was clear I wasn’t the only one getting into it.
On my way back from a meeting, I couldn’t help but keep an eye out for portals, ducking into an alley to attack one near my office. Later, I found myself poring over the larger map on my office computer, looking at the spread of portals and control fields around the Bay Area.
As it turns out, my parents live in an area dominated by the Enlightened. So I guess I’ll be busy attacking enemy portals in my hometown this weekend.
Thursday, September 20. 2012
The iPhone 5 is the latest smartphone to hop on-board the LTE (Long Term Evolution) bandwagon, and for good reason: The mobile broadband standard is fast, flexible, and designed for the future. Yet LTE is still a young technology, full of growing pains. Here’s an overview of where it came from, where it is now, and where it might go from here.
The evolution of ‘Long Term Evolution’
LTE is a mobile broadband standard developed by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), a group that has developed all GSM standards since 1999. (Though GSM and CDMA—the network Verizon and Sprint use in the United States—were at one time close competitors, GSM has emerged as the dominant worldwide mobile standard.)
Cell networks began as analog, circuit-switched systems nearly identical in function to the public switched telephone network (PSTN), which placed a finite limit on calls regardless of how many people were speaking on a line at one time.
The second-generation, GPRS, added data (at dial-up modem speed). GPRS led to EDGE, and then 3G, which treated both voice and data as bits passing simultaneously over the same network (allowing you to surf the web and talk on the phone at the same time).
GSM-evolved 3G (which brought faster speeds) started with UMTS, and then accelerated into faster and faster variants of 3G, 3G+, and “4G” networks (HSPA, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSPA).
Until now, the term “evolution” meant that no new standard broke or failed to work with the older ones. GSM, GPRS, UMTS, and so on all work simultaneously over the same frequency bands: They’re intercompatible, which made it easier for carriers to roll them out without losing customers on older equipment. But these networks were being held back by compatibility.
That’s where LTE comes in. The “long term” part means: “Hey, it’s time to make a big, big change that will break things for the better.”
LTE needs its own space, man
LTE has “evolved” beyond 3G networks by incorporating new radio technology and adopting new spectrum. It allows much higher speeds than GSM-compatible standards through better encoding and wider channels. (It’s more “spectrally efficient,” in the jargon.)
LTE is more flexible than earlier GSM-evolved flavors, too: Where GSM’s 3G variants use 5 megahertz (MHz) channels, LTE can use a channel size from 1.4 MHz to 20 MHz; this lets it work in markets where spectrum is scarce and sliced into tiny pieces, or broadly when there are wide swaths of unused or reassigned frequencies. In short, the wider the channel—everything else being equal—the higher the throughput.
Speeds are also boosted through MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), just as in 802.11n Wi-Fi. Multiple antennas allow two separate benefits: better reception, and multiple data streams on the same spectrum.
Unfortunately, in practice, LTE implementation gets sticky: There are 33 potential bands for LTE, based on a carrier’s local regulatory domain. In contrast, GSM has just 14 bands, and only five of those are widely used. (In broad usage, a band is two sets of paired frequencies, one devoted to upstream traffic and the other committed to downstream. They can be a few MHz apart or hundreds of MHz apart.)
And while LTE allows voice, no standard has yet been agreed upon; different carriers could ultimately choose different approaches, leaving it to handset makers to build multiple methods into a single phone, though they’re trying to avoid that. In the meantime, in the U.S., Verizon and AT&T use the older CDMA and GSM networks for voice calls, and LTE for data.
LTE in the United States
Of the four major U.S. carriers, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have LTE networks, with T-Mobile set to start supporting LTE in the next year. But that doesn’t mean they’re set to play nice. We said earlier that current LTE frequencies are divided up into 33 spectrum bands: With the exception of AT&T and T-Mobile, which share frequencies in band 4, each of the major U.S. carriers has its own band. Verizon uses band 13; Sprint has spectrum in band 26; and AT&T holds band 17 in addition to some crossover in band 4.
In addition, smaller U.S. carriers, like C Spire, U.S. Cellular, and Clearwire, all have their own separate piece of the spectrum pie: C Spire and U.S. Cellular use band 12, while Clearwire uses band 41.
As such, for a manufacturer to support LTE networks in the United States alone, it would need to build a receiver that could tune into seven different LTE bands—let alone the various flavors of GSM-evolved or CDMA networks.
With the iPhone, Apple tried to cut through the current Gordian Knot by releasing two separate models, the A1428 and A1429, which cover a limited number of different frequencies depending on where they’re activated. (Apple has kindly released a list of countries that support its three iPhone 5 models.) Other companies have chosen to restrict devices to certain frequencies, or to make numerous models of the same phone.
Other solutions are coming. Qualcomm made a regulatory filing in June regarding a seven-band LTE chip, which could be in shipping devices before the end of 2012 and could allow a future iPhone to be activated in different fashions. Within a year or so, we should see most-of-the-world phones, tablets, and other LTE mobile devices that work on the majority of large-scale LTE networks.
That will be just in time for the next big thing: LTE-Advanced, the true fulfillment of what was once called 4G networking, with rates that could hit 1 Gbps in the best possible cases of wide channels and short distances. By then, perhaps the chip, handset, and carrier worlds will have converged to make it all work neatly together.
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