May 23, 2012

New Visual, Converged, and Thin Quad-Core Devices Offer a Taste of Next Gen Mobility


Outta Sight

Scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle are reportedly working on contact lenses that can do a whole lot than just help people see better. According to Cisco’s (News - Alert) “The Network” from March 6, the contact lenses would effectively be wirelessly-enabled, wafer-thin computers. And they could do things like alert a doctor about medical problems; notify the wearer of an important event; or overlay computer-generated visual information, such as maps, on the real world.

"The potential impact is huge if we can demonstrate the technology can work," says UW Prof. Babak Parviz, whose team recently published a paper on research it did in association with Aalto University in Finland.

Parviz himself wrote in an article he authored for IEEE Spectrum back in September of 2009: “In the Terminator movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character sees the world with data superimposed on his visual field – virtual captions that enhance the cyborg’s scan of a scene.In stories by the science fiction author Vernor Vinge, characters rely on electronic contact lenses, rather than smartphones or brain implants, for seamless access to information that appears right before their eyes. These visions (if I may) might seem far-fetched, but a contact lens with simple built-in electronics is already within reach; in fact, my students and I are already producing such devices in small numbers in my laboratory at the University of Washington, in Seattle.”

The more recent article, a Q&A with Parviz on the Cisco site, explains that the scientist’s team assembled onto a contact lens an integrated system that includes an antenna, a silicon-powered radio and a chip containing a custom-designed micro LED.

“The display, which so far consists of just a single pixel, is powered up by having radio waves sent its way,” according to the piece. “It was tested on live, anesthetized rabbits, apparently with no adverse effects.”

Double Vision

Taiwan’s AsusTek Inc. has unveiled the PadFone – which is part laptop, part smartphone, and part tablet.

AsusTek offered a sneak peek of the device to some folks earlier this year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The product was slated for commercial availability starting last month.

The smartphone part of PadFone fits into the tablet/laptop part when the user wants a bigger screen or longer battery usage.                   

PadFone offers up to 63 hours of extended talk time, delivers two devices that can be supported on a single data plan, and offers 4.3-inch and 10.1-inch display screens. The screens leverage what AsusTek calls DynamicDisplay. The company says DynamicDisplay is an exclusive technology that automatically adjusts the PadFone’s display layout when it is placed into the PadFone Station. “The intelligent DynamicDisplay technology will also ensure that the app remembers where you stopped so that you can immediately continue playing that new game without having to start all over again when switching from PadFone to PadFone Station and vice versa,” according to AsusTek marketing materials.

A Feb. 27 Endgadget piece comments on the PadFone by saying: “There are two stories here, and they're both quite compelling, frankly. On the one hand, you've got yet another high-end device, with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED qHD display, Snapdragon's new dual-core S4 chip, an Adreno 225 GPU, Ice Cream Sandwich and an 8-megapixel rear camera with an LED flash and f/2.2 autofocusing lens. (The front camera records at VGA resolution.) Other specs include 16 to 64GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD), Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI, GPS, A-GPS, a gyroscope, 1,520mAh battery and a compass. Connectivity options include WCDMA (900, 2100 MHz), EDGE / GPRS / GSM (850, 1800 and 1900 MHz) and HSPA+, with theoretical download speeds topping out at 42Mbps. Barring LTE, we wouldn't expect much less from a flagship launched at the world's premier wireless show.“But those are just specs,” Dana Wollman of Endgadget continues. “If you focus solely on its chip and 9.2mm-thick frame you'd be missing its most distinguishing attribute: it's ability to parade around in tablet's clothing (albeit, with the help of some optional, still-unpriced accessories).” 

In the Era

ZTE has a new wireless device called the ZTE Era, which it’s promoting as one of the thinnest quad-core devices on the market today. The 7.8mm-thick device leverages NVIDIA’s (News - Alert) Tegra 3 quad-core mobile processor and Icera 450 HSPA+ modem.

It has a 4.3-inch QHD screen that presents users with 960 x 540 pixel images; offers 8GB of memory, which is expandable with a MicroSD card; and delivers HD voice and Dolby sound. 

The ZTE Era, which runs on the Android (News - Alert) 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) platform, is ZTE’s most powerful Android smartphone, according to the company.

This product, which launches in Europe and China in the second half of 2012, is part of a series of eight new devices that ZTE unveiled at Mobile World Congress. The company notes that all of these devices deliver significant advances in power, high-definition multimedia capabilities and design. 

ZTE was ranked by Gartner as the world's No.4 player in terms of handset shipments in Q4 2011. ZTE smartphone sales are growing faster than any other vendor except Apple (News - Alert).

“In 2012, ZTE products will be building up from the low-middle end of the market into the middle-high end, with the ZTE Era being the best example of that development,” says He Shiyou (News - Alert), executive vice president of ZTE Corp. “We will continue our long-standing cooperation with operators around the world, but we will also continue to build our distributor channels (both ODM and OEM), and we will be focusing our marketing in particular on the high-end markets of Europe, America, Japan and China.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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Rich Tehrani,
Since 1982 Rich has led TMC© in many capacities. Rich Tehrani is an IP Communications industry expert, visionary, author and columnist. He founded INTERNET TELEPHONY® magazine...Read More >>>
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Today as a partner at Crossfire Media, Carl is developing programs that bring to light an understanding of the issues required for delivering broadband wireless Internet...Read More >>>
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om is executive technology editor for TMC® Labs, the industry’s most-well known and respected testing lab, and ...Read More >>>