Category Archives: Technology

Evolution of Computer Capacity and Costs

Evolution Computer Power and CostsArtificial intelligence pioneer Hans Moravec made an interesting slide showing the evolution of computer power and cost, and the trajectory toward a thinking machine comparable to a human brain. “Evolution of Computer Power/Cost”.

Evolution Computer Power and Costs

Wikipedia: Hans Moravec (born November 30, 1948 in Austria) is a adjunct faculty member at the Robotics Institute (Carnegie Mellon) of Carnegie Mellon University. He is known for his work on robotics, artificial intelligence, and writings on the impact of technology. Moravec also is a futurist with many of his publications and predictions focusing on transhumanism. Moravec developed techniques in machine vision for determining the region of interest (ROI) in a scene. Other ROI techniques exist, including the patents of Sherman de Forest (U.S.), and the machine vision / image processing articles by Sobel. His last academic publication was in 2003.

Who will bring out the first eNewspaper Reader for free?

Rupert MurdochThis week Murdoch’s News Corp. annouced that they are developing a device that would be used to read newspaper content on a large screen. Murdoch says “its time consumers started paying to read Web content.”

Mobile technology could save the ailing newspaper industry, according to Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp. and one of the world’s leading media barons. The problem is well known: Newspaper sales and advertising is declining steadily because publishers, fighting tooth and nail for eyeballs, have made most of their content available for free on the Web. Think of it as a price war where the price has dropped to zero.

Murdoch said the project is in its early software development stages, and he provided few details on what he introduced as a potential solution to the problems ailing the publishing industry. “People are used to reading everything on the net for free, and that’s going to have to change,” Murdoch said at the cable industry’s largest annual gathering in Washington, D.C.

Why News Corp. is going to the expense and hassle of developing a dedicated device when the Kindle and its rivals already exists is unclear. Today, Americans can download and read the Wall Street Journal (owned by News Corp.), for example, each day on the Kindle for $10 a month. While neither the Kindle, nor its enhanced successor, the Kindle 2, is perfect, they have been widely lauded for providing a relatively easy reading experience on an electronic device.

Moreover, Amazon is also breaking new ground with its business model. Rather than subsidising the device, as a mobile operator might do, Amazon has priced the Kindle high, but doesn’t charge for the 3G airtime needed to download new titles, so that users can typically buy publications for less than it would cost them to purchase paper copies.

Of course, Murdoch may want a device in which both the hardware and the software are highly-optimised for the delivery of breaking news, potentially pushing headlines, sports scores and other fast-changing content out to his customers as they happen. But is there really room in consumers’ pockets, handbags or brief cases for another dedicated device, especially when they cost several hundred dollars apiece?

The Question for the MOCOM 2020 community is looking into the future: When will somebody bring out the first eNewspaper Reader for free? As the Kindle is sold for few hundred dollars right now, the vision of giving away eBooks or eReaders for free or for 1 USD is not far away.

When do you think this will happen?
And would you take an eNewspaper Reader for free?

Via Dave Pring and
Total Telecom.

4G needed to avoid wireless network overload?

The surge in popularity of mobile applications and smartphones is resulting in significantly greater data consumption, which could soon push existing wireless networks to their limit.

From 2005 to 2012, mobile traffic will have increased a thousand-fold, according to a keynote address at the CTIA Wireless 2009: Mobile Life conference. A Cisco white paper predicted that usage on wireless networks would double every year for the next several years, potentially multiplying 66 times between 2008 and 2013.

“It’s hard to conceive of that type of growth—can we keep up with that type of demand?” said Benjamin Wolff, co-chairman/CEO of Clearwire Corp., which partnered with Sprint on 4G WiMax technology (see story). “We’re already having some challenges with today’s networks to keep up with consumer demand, and as an industry we have to deal this capacity crunch to avoid the threat of network overload.

“We’re seeing a huge amount of wireless data consumption, and it’s only going to go up,” he said. “Capacity is the wireless industry’s dilemma, and today’s apps and devices are just the beginning.”

Today’s smartphones use 30 times as much data as feature phones, while laptops use 450 times the data of a standard mobile phone.

The popularity of new mobile applications is driving bandwidth consumption.

Read more at Mobile Marketer.

Skype Application for iPhone

Skype and Apple announced the official Skype Application at CTIA 2009.

Via Cnet.com

Months after teasing us at CES with an announcement of Skype’s native VoIP client for the iPhone, the free Skype for iPhone will finally be available to download from the iTunes App Store sometime on Tuesday. We got a chance to sit down with the application’s principal engineer before the announcement was made at CTIA 2009, to see Skype for iPhone do its thing. While most of the features aren’t too surprising–Skype does want to maintain some consistency across its mobile applications, after all–there are a few capabilities that are notably missing, and a few iPhone-only perks that are refreshing to see.

skype apple iphone skype apple iphone

Motorola presents iPhone rival Evoke QA4 at CTIA 2009

Full feature phone is packed with integrated widgets, real Web browsing and IM-style messaging

Motorola today introduced Motorola Evoke QA4, a socially-inclined device with a 2.8” full touch-screen that keeps you constantly connected. Evoke supports different messaging styles with a full touch-screen QWERTY keyboard and slide out traditional keypad. Customize the home screen content with integrated widgets and personalized RSS feeds, and use the full HTML browser to share pictures, videos and more online.

“We understand the importance of having a mobile phone that helps you stay connected simply and seamlessly with your friends and family, whether you prefer to talk, text or network,” said Mark Shockley, corporate vice president and general manager, Motorola Mobile Devices. “Motorola Evoke offers the cutting-edge convenience and instant gratification of a full touch-screen, intuitive online browsing and the ability to stay plugged in on your terms.”

Whether you stay connected through phone calls, messaging, Web feeds, social networks or all of the above, Evoke meets your preferences. The device offers multiple ways to make a phone call with a physical slider keypad and intuitive dialing features on the touch-screen. Equipped with an accelerometer, turn Evoke on its side to reveal a full-touch QWERTY keyboard for easy texting1. Home screen messaging icons, predictive text and IM-style messaging1 make it easy to follow the back-and-forth of multiple conversations. Evoke also places a premium on clear and convenient communication with noise reduction technology to help lower background noise on phone calls and Bluetooth technology to keep in touch hands-free2.

It’s easy to customize Evoke and bring the content that’s important to you straight to the display. Use integrated widgets1 to access real-time information, social networking sites, and personalized RSS feeds from the Web such as weather, sports scores, stock reports, news headlines and more1. You decide which widgets appear on your home screen and which are hidden.

Use Evoke to let others feel like they’re with you as you snap pictures and record video. Fast Web connectivity lets you easily publish photos and clips taken with Evoke onto your favorite blogs and sharing sites such as Picasa 1,3. Touch the screen for instant access to a full HTML browser1 and use quick-start widgets to easily bring up popular sites such as MySpace and YouTube 1,3. Built-in integration with MySpace also lets you keep close tabs on friends and post instant updates to your profile in one easy step.

Motorola Evoke QA4 will be available in Q2 2009. For more information, product specifications and images of Evoke, please visit www.motorola.com/mediacenter/ctia2009.

The Evolution of the Mobile Phones

Handset Motorola 1985This Videos shows the Evolution of Mobile Phones from 2985 until today.

You’re bound to recognise a few mobile phones from your past as we take you from 1985 to the present day; and you can even learn a few interesting facts along the way.

For instance, did you know the first mobile phone to feature an internal camera was the Sharp J-SH04, released in Japan in 2001? Or that the billionth Nokia ever sold was a Nokia 1100, purchased in Nigeria, a model designed to be dust-proof for use in dusty, developing countries?

Starting with the earliest Nokia and Motorola handsets and ending with the Nokia N95 and Apple iPhone, we also give you a glimpse into the future, with a few concept phones that may make your current mobile look dated within a couple of years.

The future of smart Ambient Devices

Chumby Ambient Device - Mocom2020Continuing with the theme of ambient communications and ambient products, I’d like to compare two ambient products on the market – the O2 Joggler and the Chumby.

In 1998, my mobile design company designed and built one of the first wireless portals ever seen (Zingo portal for Lucent). It was way ahead of its time, as were many of its features, one of which was a messaging service that interacted with a messaging panel on a fridge. Back then, we got a little excited about Internet connected fridges, so we felt that such ambient products were the future.

The fridge wasn’t really important, but the concept of interacting with the “home hub” was. The ability to send messages in and out of the home from various mobile family members seemed useful and an obvious thing to do. Roll on a few years – about 10 – and digital picture frames have become prevalent. I suggested in an old blog entry back in 2006 that it would be useful to pop a calendar into the frame, especially one used to keep track of family events. My family, for example, have a shared calendar on Google Calendar, but there are about 1001 calendar services out there, perhaps more popular than GC.

In my household, we have a plethora of computers that alway seem switched on, so it’s easy to access shared calendars, except … we don’t. I even mounted a laptop right in the heart of the kitchen. It still didn’t work.

As those of us well versed in mobile product design know, there’s often a HUGE gulf between the ability to run an application and actually running the application. That’s what early detractors of the Blackberry didn’t understand. Truly always-on email – ie push – is a very different experience to on-demand email – ie pull. That is, when the app is always running, it gets used by virtue of the “bumped-into effect,” which I have blogged about many times.

When the app needs to be invoked, it often doesn’t get used. Obvious, yes, but subtly important. There is a common objection here, which is to do with the notion of need. Many will say that if you don’t have a “i need to access my email every second” problem, then you don’t need always-on email. That’s not the point. Once exposed to an always-on experience, it can easily become imbibed into the user’s daily habits – new habits are formed. Twitter users will have experience this. Migrating from the web presentation to a Twitter client creates a much greater attachment to Twitter. Soon, the Twitter habit is formed and one can’t imagine daily digital life without it.

Now the question is whether or not the same experience could occur with an ambient device in the kitchen. Is there a device, that once connected, once fired up, once used by its family owners, will become incorporated into the daily habits of digital home living?

I believe that there is, although the exact formula has yet to be uncovered. Amstrad tried it not so long ago with their Internet phone. I even tried one of those in an attempt to get my wife more habitually plumbed into email – she had a tendency not to check email for long periods of time, which caused various problems (at least in my view). It didn’t solve the problem for a number of reasons. Upping the budget a bit, I eventually got her a Blackberry. Problem solved. (And now she has an iPhone.) BUT! Family calendaring still remains an issue.
Enter the O2 Joggler and the Chumby. They are both ambient devices intended to be switch on and accessible all of the time, which, we can imagine, means somewhere in the kitchen if it is to be a family-centric experience. This is certainly O2’s positioning for the product, which is advertised under the rubric of “O2 Family.” The devices are similar in concept. Notionally, one could describe them as digital picture frames with the addition of a calendar. HOWEVER, that is where the similarity ends. And, I believe, there is an important lesson here in what we have been talking and blogging about for some time in the mobile 2.0 world, which is the difference between a product and a platform. As far as can be gleaned from the O2 website, the Joggler’s main feature is its shared calendar function, which has various bells and whistles, such as text message reminders and text-message submission of new entries. There are features to import photos, get traffic info, weather etc, as described on the media release for the device On the other hand, the Chumby offers something that the Joggler doesn’t, which is support for a developer community via its widgets technology (based on Flash Lite). There are already some 1000 widgets in the catalogue, including 17 (when I checked) calendar widgets and 32 photo widgets (including Flickr and all the popular gallery sites). I can certainly use it to access our shared family Google calendar, which already has text or email alerts built in.

In other words, the Chumby guys have created a content platform, not just a device. In the words of Stephen Tomlin, their CEO: “Chumby brings new capabilities to connected devices by streaming always-on, always-fresh personalized Internet content to consumers.”

They have created a developer commnuity by leveraging a well-known development environment – Flash Lite – and an emergent delivery mechanism – i.e. widgets. You can even create virtual Chumbys just for fun (because Flash widgets will play in the browser). Here’s mine, showing real-time search of “mobile” in the Twitter timeline, upcoming events from Yahoo Upcoming, and random pictures from Flickr public RSS, but these could obviously be from my pics.

Will the Sun charge the Mobile Devices of the emerging markets?

At MWC’09 I met an fascinating company called intivation that builds solar-powered cell phones. The uniqueness of this technology is the energy efficiency. The company only uses one solar-cell without the need of connecting several small cells to a solar grid.

The are targeting the 1,6 billion people on the planet that do not have reliable sources of electricity. The yearly growth of mobile penetration in emerging markets is over 37%, compared to a 2% rate in developed countries. Combining these two factors give you a clou what the future will bring.

Intivation showed the first solar-powered mobile phone from ZTE distributed by the operator Digicel. The mobile device just needs 1 hours charging per day.

Video Interview at MWC’09 with Paul Naastepad, CEO of Intivation.


Connecting the unconnected

Mobile telephony usage in the emerging markets is growing at enormous rates. One of the biggest challenges for users is the lack of access to electricity, but solar power provides a practical solution for these regions.

New users in the emerging Asian, Latin American and African markets are the key driver for growth in the mobile communication markets. Access to affordable and reliable electricity is a huge challenge in these markets; 1.6 billion people do not currently have access to a reliable power grid. In this light low-cost, autonomous solar-powered handsets represent a major opportunity. Consumers can use the solar powered handset anytime, anywhere, while network operators will benefit from increased market penetration and higher ARPU from existing users.

According to recent statistics of the GSM Association, Africa now has 9% of the world’s GSM subscriptions, up 12% since 2006, with over 340 million subscribers and has been the world’s fastest growing market for the past four years. One of the major barriers in the developing markets is the
lack of access to affordable and reliable energy; according to the World Bank 1.6 billion people worldwide live without electricity. The lack is most acute in Sub-Saharan Africa, where over 500 million people have no modern energy, and as few as two percent of those living in rural areas have access to any electricity. In India the percentage of population with access to electricity was below 50% in 2004. It should be noted that access to electricity does not guarantee that there is a 24-hours uptime of the grid: in many regions the power grid is unstable and very unreliable. The striking deficiencies in electricity availability are illustrated below.

Most of the emerging markets have plenty of sunshine. When measured in peak sun hours, defined as kWh/m2/day, Africa and the Middle-East enjoy more than six peak sun hours per day, whereas large parts of Asia and Latin America have more than four sun peak hours per day.
This makes the potential for solar power enormous. Additionally, in a lot of developing regions, when power is available the cost is very high to consumers, who often spend between 15 and 20 percent of their income on it. This means that a solar powered handset takes away a significant expense while giving them extra freedom.

Intivation’s proprietary and market-proven step-up converter technology uniquely enables cost-effective production of efficient solar-powered handsets. The chipset allows charging a lithium ion or polymer battery from a single solar cell (0.5V output), instead of a series of connected solar cells. Advantages of using a single solar cell include a gain in active area, removing interconnect losses, no partial shading effects, a more high-tech appearance, and reduced costs. At the heart of our solution is a highly efficient step-up converter technology with the
following qualities:

  • – Active maximum power-point tracking capability;
  • – Minimisation of all leakage currents, which cause the phone discharging in dark;
  • – Very high conversion efficiency (efficiency >70% at only 2% of nominal load) enabled by reducing frequency of operation of microprocessor using a
    proprietary approach;
  • – Proprietary and defensible intellectual property.

This leads to a solar powered solution that charges faster under all light conditions, is much more reliable, and simplifies production significantly. In addition to its leading expertise in the design and manufacture of proprietary converter technologies, Intivation also has established expertise in the integration of this technology with commercially available solar cell and power solutions. In short, Intivation provides complete power supply and control management solutions inte-
grating solar cell and battery operation in the consumer electronic device.

By integrating a 15% efficient solar cell of 20cm2 into the battery door of any mobile phone a significant charge current is produced, making the phone autonomous from the power network. Under optimal light conditions–outdoor at full sun–a one-hour charge generates a charging current of approximately 55mA. Research suggests that people in Africa, on average, call 5 minutes per day, send 5 sms messages, and have the phone on standby for 16 hours. The total power consumption with such behaviour is approximately 82mA.

This means a 1.5-hour charge under optimal light conditions compensates the full consumption during a day. Under the sunlight conditions found in Africa, but also in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan e.a., where the number of sun peak hours are > 5 the 1.5-hour charge under optimal light conditions is very feasible, not to say there is plenty of room for increased usage while maintaining autonomous powering.


Intivation, Mobilizing the Sun from Intivation on Vimeo.

Will your future phone have a mobile projector?

NTT Docomo showed a mobile projector phone at the Mobile World Congress.

The small projector is integrated in an mobile phone. The device claims to have 40 to 60 minutes of battery life, allowing users to use it for sales pitches, presentations, and office meetings.

The projector uses LED technology to provide up to 10,000 hours of operation. It also has a full VGA resolution that displays in 4:3 format with a wide range of projected image sizes from 127mm during daylight use to 1270mm in a darkened environment.