Thursday 28 February 2008

2008 may finally be the year of Mobile TV

Mobile TV was one of the topics that held a lot of interest in MWC08. Some of my clients i discussed Mobile TV with wanted to wait for MWC to check which direction the wind is blowing. The news seem to be that most of the handset manufacturers seem to be looking at it now.

According to this report in Forbes magazine:

Many Chinese can already catch analog television signals on some handheld devices. The Chinese government, however, intends to use the Olympics to showcase the next wave of digital mobile TV, based on standards developed in China.

Huaqi, a Beijing manufacturer of handheld devices, is planning to build inexpensive, user-friendly portable media players and navigation devices. Four different models, priced around $300 apiece, will debut in June, says Guo Hongzhi, Huaqi's general manager of resource management. Outfitted with 4.3-inch screens, they will also be able to play music and video and will eventually incorporate global positioning satellite data and wi-fi.

Some of the nuts-and-bolts technology, however, is coming from elsewhere. Alon Ironi runs Siano Mobile Silicon, an Israeli firm that makes the specialty TV receiver chips that receive signals encoded using the unique Chinese standards. Siano's chips can receive both satellite and terrestrial signals--an unusual combination that will eventually make the network more affordable, Ironi predicts. For now, that's hardly a concern: The Chinese government plans to subsidize the mobile digital TV service for the first year to whet Chinese users' enthusiasm for the technology.

The Olympics promise to be a picture-perfect showcase for China's digital mobile TV service. Work on digital TV has been going on for several years. Public trials in 35 cities are slated to begin in April. By the time of the highly anticipated Aug. 8 opening day of the games, China plans to be broadcasting digital mobile television to 65 cities throughout the country.

The magnitude of the Chinese mobile market, the largest in the world, with more than 540 million subscribers, means that the summertime experiment could turn into big business.

This would also be a boon for mobile TV around the world. Despite success in countries like Japan, Korea and Italy, which began broadcasting mobile digital TV as early as 2005, the technology has yet to take off worldwide.

There are many problems at present with adoption of Mobile TV. First is the high prices and poor quality:

There is a fast-growing army of ex-mobile TV users in the U.S. and Europe’s major mobile markets. Disgruntled by the high prices, and dissatisfied by the poor quality and reliability of the service, consumers are turning their back on the service in their droves. So much so, in fact, that the number of ex-mobile TV users now outnumber more than two to one mobile TV users in Germany, Spain, France and Italy.

This is the key finding of a survey conducted by M:Metrics, the results of which are published today. By comparing mobile TV usage patterns in January 2007 with those during November 2007 in the UK, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the U.S. — more than 34,000 mobile users were surveyed in total — M:Metrics found the size of the mobile TV audience had increased by 36 percent. The bad news for mobile operators, however, is that the number of former mobile TV users had grown by a whopping 68 percent.

The second most popular reason for mobile TV disillusionment among M:Metrics’ survey respondents was poor quality and reliability, cited by an average of around 25 percent of ex-mobile TV users across the countries surveyed (ranging from 22 percent in the U.S. up to 30 percent in the U.S.).

The others are more due to technological limitations which will be overcome with time:

Receiver chips must be energy-efficient to preserve battery life--an important consideration in any mobile device. At the same time, they must be sensitive enough to transform even weak TV signals into clear images and function in sheltered places, like garages, and at moderate speeds, such as on trains or in fast-moving cars.

And then the standards:

Clashing standards have slowed adoption. Like many cellular technologies, mobile TV standards differ by region, forming an alphabet soup of acronyms: wireless technology company Qualcomm's MediaFLO in the U.S., DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds) in Europe, T-DMB (Terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcast) in Korea, and ISDB-T (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting - Terrestrial) in Japan and Brazil. The standards are largely incompatible.

And ofcourse the business models:

That fragmentation extends to business models. There are "free to air" services, which, like basic TV channels, can be picked up by any device with the right chip or receiver--no service provider necessary. Particularly popular in Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Asia, these channels generally offer the same programs a home TV would show for free. Then there's the paid model, predominant in the U.S., in which mobile carriers provide premium TV shows to subscribers for a fee.

According to Ericsson's Mobile TV Research Study:

Mobile TV use is set to surge due to strong consumer demand, with the service ranked as the number one application users want on their phone, according to a consumer behaviour study conducted by Ericsson and the #1 international news broadcaster, CNN.

The results show more than a third (34%) of respondents ranking TV as the most in-demand application and almost half (44%) of the respondents poised to adopt mobile TV in the next two years.

Key findings also revealed that photo and video messaging look to be set for wide-scale adoption as consumer pricing and functionality improves. 57% of respondents use photo technology to send and receive images on a monthly basis, making it the most popular activity. This trend is mirrored by popularity of CNN International's user-generated content service iReport, which launched in 2006. The service garnered 50,000 submissions, including mobile phone footage and images, from 189 countries worldwide in its first twelve months, driving the worldwide trend for 'citizen journalism' and giving audiences a deeper connection to network news.

According to the report, nearly one in four (24%) current mobile TV users watch daily with around half (52%) tuning in on a weekly basis. At 77%, news leads genre viewing patterns, followed by scheduled television at 48%.

And ABI Research's report:

mobile TV services expand over the next five years, ABI Research sees the total number of subscribers growing to 462 million, driven in large part by the expansion of 3G networks, and flat-rate plans for mobile video. The build-out of mobile video delivery networks and an increase in the amount of available content will also contribute to the market’s growth.

ABI Research sees the Asia-Pacific region as the overall leader in the adoption of mobile video services. The number of subscribers to mobile video services in Asia-Pacific will grow from 24 million in 2007 to more than 260 million by 2012. High levels of penetration will occur in both Japan and South Korea, each a leading market in mobile video services, while China and India will both contribute significantly to the overall total due to very large subscriber populations, even though the overall penetration of video services will remain much lower than in more technologically advanced countries.

“South Korea and Japan will continue to lead worldwide, while some countries in Western Europe will also continue to see strong growth,” notes Wolf. “North America will also see some strong uptake as more services become available in 2008 with the launch of AT&T’s MediaFLO service, the continued expansion of Verizon Wireless’ MediaFLO subscriber base, and the growth of on-demand mobile video services.”

Panasonic announced that it has begun shipment of its P905iTV mobile phones to NTT DoCoMo, Inc.

Combining the design concept of Panasonic large-screen flat-panel TV ’VIERA’ and its high-quality picture technologies, the P905iTV is a sliding handset featuring "One-segment" mobile TV. Adopting frame conversion technology from 15 frames to 30 frames per second enables users to enjoy smooth, vivid and high quality "One-Segment" mobile TV together on a 3.5 inch Full Wide VGA large screen.

The handset employs Panasonic’s original high-resolution technologies, "Mobile PEAKS PROCESSORTM" and "Mobile Double Contrast AI" that achieves a high contrast ratio of 4000:1, enabling users to enjoy vivid and high resolution "One-Segment" mobile TV and motion pictures.
Using "LCD Artificial Intelligence" which adjusts the brightness of a display automatically and advanced system LSI based on "UniPhier" for mobile phone, the P905iTV leverages eye-friendly pictures and electric power saving, letting users enjoy long-time ’One-Segment’ mobile TV viewing and music playing.

Monday 25 February 2008

Introduction to TTCN-3

This one is from Arvind's blog:

TTCN-3 core language is nothing more than simple text with well-defined syntax and semantics. The syntax is defined using Backus-Naur Form. What this means is that any text editor can be used to write TTCN-3 test cases. Such test cases are quite different in dynamic behaviour from C or Pascal. Still, it is quite easy for programmers well-versed with procedural languages to get used to TTCN-3 easily. There are many similarities - keywords, data types, variables, control statements, functions, operators, operator precedence, just to name a few.

The language is structured in a way that allows high level of flexibility. Test system definition is modular. In fact, an important unit of a test suite is a module which would contain one or more test cases or the control part of a test suite. Concurrency of operation is possible because components can execute in parallel. Of course, execution is serialized at the level of hardware unless the multi-processors are involved. Parameterization is possible just as it was possible in TTCN-2. Concepts of PICS and PIXIT still apply because they are fundamental to any conformance testing.

More Information is available at:

Finally, you may be wondering why I am discussing TTCN-3 on this blog. This is because those of us who work in testing side will know very well that most of the test scripts are written in TTCN. At present TTCN-2 is used and there is only one big player for that which is Telelogic. This is because they have some patents which restricts competetion. To bypass this, ETSI pioneered TTCN-3 which is open source and anybody can create a compiler for TTCN-3.

As a result, TTCN-3 is being widely adopted for testing now. Its already being used for WiMAX, IMS and SIP testing. In future it would be used for LTE as well.

Friday 22 February 2008

Do we really need Femtocells?

This article in Telecom Magazine got me thinking. Do we really need more wireless equipment in our house that will increase the electronic smog or would we rather change the service provider?

Forty-three percent of respondents surveyed by 2Wire said they would rather switch cellular carriers to get better in-home coverage, lending credence to the growing movement for either femtocells or fixed-mobile convergence with dual-mode devices as a way to improve home reception. The survey, conducted by Quality Resource Associates, of San Jose, California, questioned over 600 mobile and broadband users to gauge their thoughts on fixed-mobile convergence.

“When 43 percent of people who respond say that they would consider switching to a new cell phone service provider that could promise perfect in-home coverage, that’s a very strong statement,” Brunato said.

Other findings in the report include …

  • ­35 percent of respondents would cancel their fixed line phone service and only use the cell phone if home coverage was as good as fixed line.
  • ­65 percent are interested in switching to a provider with in-home cellular Web browsing and cellular e-mail at speeds as fast as high-speed Internet
  • ­40 percent would consider purchasing a Wi-Fi enabled cell phone if they could make free phone calls with it inside their home
  • ­37 percent would accept an additional piece of equipment if it delivered voice quality as good as the fixed line service
Read the complete article here.

Thursday 21 February 2008

700MHz for WiMAX: Everything is fair in Love and War

WiMAX was designed for the ISM Band and other bands that were freely available worldwide but suddenly they have realised that they can get a big time break if they can be rolled out in the 700MHz spectrum being auctioned in US.

The Forum, which in the past has assiduously stuck to its guns that it was developing specifications for accepted international spectrum like 2.3, 2.5 and 3.5 GHz, has done an about-face and announced that 700 MHz is a key signpost on its technology road map.

“The market interest has grown considerably recently to the point where the board has decided to give it some high priority and made the announcement today (at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona) that we’re going to be working hard on the technical specifications for the band,” said Tim Hewitt, chairman of the Forum’s regulatory working group.

While the Forum has publicly maintained a low profile about 700 MHz, it “has been keeping an eye on 700 megs for quite some time,” Hewitt said. “There’s a nine-step process we have to go through (and) for some time we’ve been doing this background work on these nine points.”

The next step in the accelerated process is to announce specifications to support both TDD and FDD certification profiles, which, in itself is a bit of focus shift because TDD has previously dominated the organization’s work.

“That was the very strong drive from the market; they wanted these TDD systems,” Hewitt said.

Now the market, both in the U.S. and overseas, wants the combination of FDD and TDD to work with 700 MHz spectrum that’s just becoming available, especially as the FCC auctions off U.S. spectrum being abandoned by broadcasters moving to all-digital delivery.

“There’s an equally important and quite exciting thing under way in the world because the ITU at the recent radio conference identified what we know as the digital dividend spectrum, the UHF spectrum that will become available in many countries when television goes digital,” Hewitt said. “That’s spectrum near 700 MHz.”

The Forum is also looking at WiMAX from a slightly different perspective. while previous efforts included fixed or portable WiMAX based on IEEE 802.16d standards, the profile work within 700 MHz will be strictly 802.16e and especially mobile.

One of the important reasons for going for TDD-FDD combinations I think is due to both LTE and UMB which are its competing technologies support TDD-FDD combination with a possibility of handover between them.

Bidding for regional licenses in the FCC's 700 Mhz auction passed the $19.3 billion mark Tuesday and before the auction concludes total bidding seems likely to hit $20 billion -- double the $10 billion amount that was universally cited as a successful figure before the auction began. And, the total has been reached without significant contribution from the D Block, which was designed to be available for a combination commercial/public safety nationwide network. While bidding for the D Block has dried up, desire for a public safety net definitely hasn't.

See figure above for D Block, etc.

"We now know that only the D Block may not sell in this auction," Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) said in a statement. "The construction of a nationwide, next-generation, interoperable broadband network for public safety is a crucial policy objective, and the need for such a network has not diminished."

As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Dingell has pushed aggressively for a nationwide public safety network. With valuable D Block spectrum expected to still be available after the auction concludes, the FCC is expected to re-bid at least some of the spectrum using new rules.

Bidding for the C Block has stalled for days, and speculation has grown that Verizon (NYSE: VZ) Wireless placed the leading $4.74 billion bid for the spectrum in the secret auction. Google (NSDQ: GOOG), which had campaigned aggressively to create the spectrum block for interchangeable devices and services, is the likely second bidder for the C Block band.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said recently that he hoped a bidder would emerge for the D Block to improve public safety responses. "If no one steps forward, the commission will have to reevaluate," he told reporters.

Say no to "Dumb Pipes"

Mobile operators must focus on providing services, not just pipes, to ensure they continue to keep pulling a profit, leaders in the industry said.

At a keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Vodafone's chief executive Arun Sarin said big pipes - the term used to describe high-capacity networks - were not the right area to focus on to achieve growth in the market.

"We must not allow ourselves to become big pipes and let someone else do the services," said Sarin. "Communications is our core business - we have to provide these services," he said.

Speaking of services, he added: "If we get this right, the upside will be enormous. If we don't, it will still be enormous - just for someone else," he said.

His view was echoed by the head of Cisco, John Chambers: "If all we do is provide transport, it won't be very lucrative... If we allow markets to become dumb pipes, there'll be no profit."

Services - and how they are delivered - have been a hot topic at MWC this year. While new devices have drawn attention, the news is often more to do with the operating system, be it Android or Windows Mobile, or the web services than the new technology in the handset.

Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son warned operators they risked becoming “dumb pipes,” if they did not move swiftly to control mobile content, reports TotalTelecom. Speaking on Wednesday at the MWC, Son said his primary plan when Softbank bought Vodafone Japan in 2006 was to drive the development of the mobile web, saying voice will “eventually become a utility.”

Son said that 2008 will see network speed and device capability hitting a point that will enable the mobile web to take off. In Japan, 90 percent of all handsets shipped are mobile-TV capable, while mobile phones now have faster CPUs that speed up browsing and bigger and better quality displays that allow the web to be viewed “properly.” Son noted that 3G was actually not good enough in terms of speed, and that with it, “you just end up with people getting upset.” HSDPA, however, was fast enough.

Just as the carriers' fear of becoming a dumb pipe is one elephant the industry can't seem to push out of the room, it's worth noting that mentions of the Apple iPhone declined significantly at this year's show. Panelists talked about the rise in popularity of touch screens, the importance of user interfaces and the big push to bring the desktop Internet experience to the mobile platform. However, they rarely mentioned the handset that has done so much to evangelize these three trends. After an entire year barraged by iPhone news, the attendees didn't need to hear it.

One high profile carrier speaker never gave a "dumb pipe" warning. Instead, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega detailed the myriad options that AT&T subscribers have for mobile content services after quickly rushing through a few slides with iPhone usage statistics.

De la Vega didn't give a dumb pipe warning during his keynote address because iPhone users have already turned AT&T's EDGE network into one. The iPhone's applications are managed by Apple and other Internet service providers. AT&T just needs to keep the network up and running.

So maybe Coleridge's quote doesn't apply here. Maybe the fearsome "dumb pipe" metaphor really is as tired as it sounds. Maybe the carriers' folly is already evident here at Mobile World Congress: No one addressed the power that Apple has wrestled from carriers the world over. The carriers' folly was in trying to resurrect the specter of one elephant in the room, while ignoring the presence of another.

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Bluetooth Piggybacks WiFi

The popular wireless technology known as Bluetooth could get a lot faster next year by taking advantage of Wi-Fi technology already built into many gadgets.

Linking Bluetooth and Wi-Fi may make it easier and faster to transfer large amounts of music between computers and cell phones, or send pictures from a camera phone to a printer, or video from a camcorder to a TV.

Michael Foley, director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, said the first devices with the technology could be on the market in the middle of next year. The industry group behind Bluetooth, which has more than 10,000 member companies, plans to announce Monday that it is pursuing the technology and will make it available next year.

A fast transfer channel for Bluetooth using a different radio technology, ultra-wideband, was announced in 2006, but delays in getting it to work prompted the Bluetooth group to look at Wi-Fi too, Foley said.

Some products, like laptops, already combine Bluetooth and Wi-Fi functions, but they work off separate chips. Most likely, manufacturers will use single chips still under development that combine Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities.

"It does appear that the first products ... are going to be Bluetooth-Wi-Fi, and our members want to take advantage of that," Foley said, adding that all the major makers of Bluetooth chips are participating in the project.
The combination devices will use the regular low-power Bluetooth radios to recognize each other and establish connections. If they need to transfer a large file, they will be able to turn on their Wi-Fi radios, then turn them off to save power after finishing the transfer, Foley said.

The new technology doesn't have a name, and it isn't clear how consumers will be able to tell it apart from Bluetooth-UWB devices, which the industry group still supports.

"This in no way ... changes our vision of using ultra-wideband technology for high speed when that technology is ready," Foley said.

While it started out as a specific radio technology, Bluetooth is turning into an umbrella standard for a variety of different radio technologies. Apart from the high-speed flavors, the SIG has incorporated an ultra-low-power wireless technology developed by Nokia Corp. and previously known as Wibree. Products like watches and pedometers that use that technology are also expected to hit the market next year.

You can also read the Interview of Bluetooth/WiFi Union here.

Personally I think when the UWB platform is fully available, it can support WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0 and then there would be some additional software upgrade for moving between them. Ofcourse the host and the controller both will have to support this new protocol.

Monday 18 February 2008

MWC08: Everyone talked about their LTE offering

In the recently concluded Mobile World Congress, everyone made sure that they talk about their LTE offering. This included the Handset manufacturers, Mobile operators, chipset people and even the Applications developer who were telling that their applications would work better than others, etc.

Here is a roundup of some stories (a bit old though):

At the Mobile World Congress, Samsung and LG express their yearning for 4G in Mobile WiMAX and LTE (Long Term Evolution), respectively.

Samsung demonstrates the interworking between Mobile WiMAX and GSM in cooperation with Alcatel-Lucent. The company’s dual-mode phone supporting both Mobile WiMAX and GSM realizes seamless video streaming, moving from Mobile WiMAX to GSM.

Besides various Mobile WiMAX solutions, Samsung unveil Access Service Network (ASN) systems such as U-RAS Flexible and U-RAS Light Series 3 working as a base-station for expanding coverage of hot zones, inside a building or at home. Using ASN, service providers will be able to facilitate integrated services such as quadruple play service and thereby improve Mobile WiMAX network as well as enlarge service coverage, the company explains. Samsung also demonstrates OFDMA, the next generation Mobile WiMAX, in high-resolution video streaming at 1Gbps download, and unveils a wide range of Mobile WiMAX devices such as USB Dongle, PC cards, PDA, UMPC, PMP and notebook computers.

LG joins forces with Nortel, its strategic partner in telecommunications equipment, to demonstrate wireless multimedia transmission using LTE, a strong candidate for 4G mobile standard. The LTE platform introduced by LG supports 60Mbps download and 40Mbps upload, up from 20Mbps for both upload and download realized in the last year’s demonstration.

China Mobile has joined Vodafone and Verizon Wireless in trialling the LTE technology that will take 3G through to 3.5G before the world finally looks at 4G - and in doing so, has shaken the established standards by adding its own Chinese-oriented technology to the LTE mix.

It announced that the three-way operator trials "will focus on the testing of LTE in the Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) paired spectrum, and the Time Division Duplex (TDD) unpaired spectrum - both technologies which are seen by some as an attempt to avoid payments of royalties to Western IP holders.

If there was any question that LTE is dominating the charge toward 4G, Qualcomm, the primary supporter of competing UWB technology, is now deploying a number of chipsets with LTE support. Verizon is one of Qualcomm's largest customers, and their decision to go LTE has apparently broadened Qualcomm's horizons. The company also says they'll be conducting HSPA+ tests throughout 2008.

"Motorola's vision for next-generation networks is one of a 4G radio access technology with huge bandwidth like LTE, combined with a flat IP architecture tied to IMS, enabling an unlimited variety of media mobility experiences. Our carrier customers want technology solutions that fit with their business plans - regardless of whether their 4G choice is LTE or WiMAX that will deliver the user experience and capacity necessary to support the growing demand for bandwidth intensive mobile, multimedia applications," said Fred Wright, senior vice president, Cellular Networks and WiMAX, Motorola.

LTE will provide users with a personal media experience similar to that of fixed line broadband both in terms of bandwidth and latency, meaning applications that can be delivered today on fixed line will soon be available over the air and fully mobility with LTE. By combining expertise from across Motorola including, chipsets, network and video head-end solutions, and professional services, the Motorola LTE ecosystem will enable true media mobility, delivering innovative applications that can help operators to increase revenues and gain a competitive advantage.

Motorola is pioneering mobile broadband innovation and leveraging its experience, research and expertise in OFDM, as well as developments in chipsets, devices, high-speed backhaul solutions, collapsed IP architecture and video head end solutions, to deliver its end-to-end LTE solution.

Nortel, LG and LG-Nortel demonstarted at mobile event that how LTE enables the user to watch videos streamed from YouTube or monitor his home security through online video surveillance system access while traveling.

“Nortel is moving forward aggressively on LTE in order to bring to market a solution capable of supporting high demand applications like video and interactive services that will have an impact on operators''' bottom lines and revolutionize the user experience," said Doug Wolff, general manager of LTE, Nortel.

With the LTE market just starting to develop, Alcatel-Lucent and NEC Corp. believe combining their resources early on will help them develop a market advantage. Alcatel-Lucent CEO Patricia Russo said the move is an offensive play, rather than a defensive one.

Japan’s NTT DoCoMo Inc. already has selected NEC to help deploy its LTE solution, while Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility have selected Alcatel-Lucent as trial partners for planned LTE deployments.The two network vendors said they plan to participate in trials in 2008 and launch a commercial network solution in 2009. The companies will use a common LTE platform and then customize the configuration depending on the needs of the carrier. Alcatel-Lucent and NEC have been working toward the joint venture for about six months.

Sunday 17 February 2008

Our future Hi-Tech world

Back in 1986, i used to subscribe to a magazine called "2001" in India. One of its prediction that i still remember is that we would have prototypes of Flying cars and cars that would run solely on solar light by the year 2000. Now its already 2008 and none of these seem to have come absolutely true.

Anyway, one of my colleague pointed out an article from PC Magazine titled, "My High-Tech Life in 2032". Some interesting bits from that:

It's the year 2032, and I just received a gentle nudge from Galt, our telepresence android robot (and hear my wife's voice piping through it—I wish she wouldn't keep doing that). Roughly 5 feet tall and with the strength of a preteen, Galt has limited autonomy. It can navigate my home on a Segway-balanced body and use its telescoping arms to choose matching clothes for me to wear each day. Its vision system picks up infrared fabric codes on the backs of my pants and shirts to ensure a proper match-perfect for color-blind people like myself.

Galt has been programmed to know my morning routine, so it takes the OLED sheet ITV, an 8-by-10-foot, 3-millimeter-thick flexible screen that uses millions of organic light-emitting diodes, and quickly attaches it to the bedroom wall so I can watch ITV while I get dressed. Small eyelet hooks are on the walls of each room where I use the screen.

I set the car to autopilot and begin cruising out of the driveway. Magnetic/electric guide wires embedded in the road keep my car on track. A dozen cameras and motion- and laser-guided distance sensors manage traffic and road signs, and GPS 2.0 does the navigating. A tap on the tiny Bluetooth receiver in my ear connects my PC phone. My boss needs third-quarter projection numbers now, so I pull out the trifold PC, fold down the sides, and pull the screen out from the base. EV-DO Revolution-Z securely connects me to my office network, and soon I'm working in Moho, Microsoft's Web-based spreadsheet app. The smartest thing Microsoft ever did was buying the Zoho online suite in 2012. I like how smoothly it runs on the Google OS.

I'm halfway through August projections when an instant message pops up. I pull out the flexible screen addition from the side of my 8-by-10-inch roll-out screen, which gives me a 2-by-2-inch extra bit of screen real estate, and dock the message window there. It's my buddy John, asking me how I'm feeling. Yesterday I had a little medical procedure: 16 computer-guided nanobots scrubbed their way through my 65 -percent-occluded arteries. (I only passed the final ones this morning-that was a bit uncomfortable.) I tell John I'm feeling fine and log off.

This Acer/Gateway/Lenovo (they merged in 2017) ThinkFold is running a bit slow today. It's not the memory; I have about 128GB of available RAM and the 2-terabyte, solid-state drive has more than enough room. Perhaps it's the remastered 1977 miniseries Roots I'm downloading in the background? I pause the download and the ultralight system speeds up.

At the office, I step into the data room, slide on the TrueVue VR goggles, and start digging through terabytes of data to find a report and financial project from 1998. I push aside useless data with my hands and create a query so the system can find the right data on its own.

Ed from IT drops by with a new phone for me. It looks a bit like a pen but snaps apart into an earpiece and a section I can put in my pocket. There's no keypad; instead I "dial" it by tapping out mini codes. I program it to call my wife on two short taps. A tap, brush against the surface, and two more taps put through a call to my best friend. I take the new phone and drop my old one into the desktop grinder. All my gadgets are now totally biodegradable, so I expect it'll end up fertilizing someone's garden.

I notice a red glow coming from my left arm. It's my RF chip. Red means my son, Daniel, is in the building and probably coming up for a surprise visit. He works in Broadway's VR Theater, playing 15 separate virtual characters on a 360-degree stage. The audience is both local—people who attend the show in person, putting on the VR goggles and Bose noise-canceling headsets—and global. I've seen 26 of his performances from the comfort of my desk. He's very good.

Daniel's visit is nicely timed, since an e-mail is just arriving from my daughter, Sophie. She's dumping her latest boyfriend. On my 180-degree, 3,048-by-1,028-pixel, curved ViewSonic screen is an alive mail, with a video of her and Brad walking on the beach. While we watch, Sophie uses Liquid Resize to remove Brad and seamlessly stitch the beach back together. It's as if he was never there. But wait, she's not done. She has another clip of her dog on the beach and, as Dan and I watch, she's added Scruffy to the shot so it looks as if he's walking alongside her. Nice.

Friday 15 February 2008

"Love Detector" Phones

According to a report in Reuters:

The "Love Detector" service from mobile operator KTF uses technology that is supposed to analyze voice patterns to see if a lover is speaking honestly and with affection.

"We created this service because we thought people would want to know what others were feeling about them," said Ahn Hee-jung, a KTF official.

Users who speak by pointing their mobile phones at themselves for video conferences can see a "love meter" bar on the screen of their handset during a conversation.

They later receive an analysis of the conversation delivered through text message that breaks down the amount of affection, surprise, concentration and honesty of the other speaker.

The service costs subscribers a flat fee of 1,500 won ($1.59) a month for unlimited use or can be accessed at 300 won for each call, KTF said.
"The caller is paying the money, so the information is provided only to him or her," said Ahn.

So the next big thing would be "Thought Reader" to find out what the person was thinking when he was talking to you ;)

Thursday 14 February 2008

Nokia shows off Green Phone

Plastic from drink bottles form its chassis while its rubber keypad is made from old car tyres, Nokia said in a statement.

Called "Remade", the silver-coloured handset is a concept that "explores potential new ideas", the company said.

"The idea behind the concept was to see if it was possible to create a device made from nothing new.

"It has been designed using recycled materials that avoid the need for natural resources, reduce landfill, and allow for more energy efficient production," Nokia said.

Remade is part of Nokia’s ongoing environmental effort.

"It is designed to help inspire and stimulate discussion on how mobile devices might be made in the future," according to the phone maker.

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, the Finnish firm's chief executive, pulled the clamshell handset out of his pocket during his speech at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona yesterday, pictured above. "It shows what can be done with materials," he said. "It is only a concept now but it gives you an insight into how we think we can break new ground." Nokia, which last year made four in 10 of the more than 1bn handsets sold worldwide, has been developing the handset - branded Remade - at its laboratories.

The metal casing and keypad are made from recycled steel, while inside the phone Nokia has been working on materials with an organic origin, such as polylactic acid plastics.