Tuesday 28 October 2008

AUO to show off upcoming innovations

AU Optronics Corp.'s recently announced vision for the next decade, AUO announced a series of forthcoming innovations, including the world's first 24-inch 2D/3D mix mode panel, a range of 4.3-inch to 15-inch multi-touch panels, and the world's first 2.8-inch image/fingerprint scanning technology on QVGA mobile device panel. AUO plans to showcase these new technological achievements in the upcoming FPD International 2008, to be held in Yokohama, Japan.

With the 3D display's inevitable growing popularity, there will be a variety of future applications in various fields, including market advertising, video games, medical imaging, industrial design, education training and more. AUO presents the world's first 24-inc h 2D/3D mix mode display panel supporting Full HD, by controlling designated areas on the panel to accomplish parallax. Without wearing glasses, the same monitor can simultaneously display high-resolution 2D images as well as high-depth 3D images.

Another 24-inch 3D display that requires specialized glasses, on the other hand, can also diminish the side effects such as dizziness after a long observation. In addition, the lenticular lens technology's 2D/3D switchable 7-inch 3D display panel, again without the need of specialized glasses, simplifies the switch between 3D images and reading conventional 2D text, solving previous 2D text reading difficulties and inconvenience.

Dedicated to the development of in-cell multi-touch panel technology for years, AUO released a series of in-cell multi-touch display in new sizes ranging from 4.3-inch to 15-inch, some of which can even be integrated into computer applications. A 15-inch in-cell multi-touch display panel utilizes p hoto-sensing technology and is sensitive to both a light pen and a finger touch.

For instance, users can dance their fingers across as on the black and white keys of a virtual piano on an LCD display, playing a melodious tune; or use the light pen as a remote control in a thrilling video game; or simply be delight along with others in this amazing multi-touch functionality. In the future, it can eventually be applied to TV remote controls, making further inroads in improving the usability of these age-old human-computer interfaces. Other multi-touch panel innovations include a 12.1-inch WXGA panel with finger-supported input and a 4.3-inch hybrid in-cell multi-touch panel that support both stylus input and finger input. These will indisputably make future handheld devices and notebook computers more intuitive and easier to use and can even possibly replace the function of the keyboard altogether.

Along with the modern pursuit of a novel, convenient and trendy lifestyle, smartphone devices will also continue to be innovated. Aside from its basic information platform, it can also be a new medium and interface that will provide a new life experience. Great news for both health-conscious and beauty lovers alike: AUO is releasing for the first time a 2.8-inch VGA UV-sensing mobile phone panel that can not only sense UV rays but also alert users in real-time their exposure to harmful UV.

In addition, AUO boasts another groundbreaking innovation, the world's first 2.8-inch QVGA mobile phone panel with image / fingerprint scanning technology, with the high s ensing resolution of up to 288 dpi, bringing mobile phone technology to a new level. After the image is scanned, the technology can enhance the image and then show the scanned image in real time. This new technology realizes consumers' dreams to utilize fingerprint identity while shopping in the future. Yet another 2.2-inch mobile phone panel applies modern optics technology to be borderless, increasing the viewable size of the screen active area. The borderless panel model will revolutionize mobile phone aesthetic design for the future.

Other small and mid-sized innovations also include: a 6.5-inch WVGA ultra-high contrast display panel that utilizes new pixel design with a high contrast ratio of 2000:1 and the 4.3-inch in-cell multi-touch panel that will be implemented in the up and coming Mobile Internet Device (MID), one of the top platforms and user interfaces.

Dr. CT Liu, vice president and general manager of AUO Consumer Product Display Business Group is full of confidence and passion regarding the future. He reiterated AUO's commitment to its new vision.

He said: "In addition to the ceaseless pursuit of technological innovations, AUO will also continue to shape cutting-edge thinking in this field. LCD's have progressively become a cross-technology phenomenon, making advancements in the domains of mobile internet devices, smartphone devices, and essentially the entire range of portable audio-visual systems. AUO vigorously strives to further develop display technology and is committed to excellence. With the various needs of entertainment, life and the workplace in mind, we expect our new panel innovations to provide more value and enrich the overall quality of life."

Mobile Fingerprint Scanners

Police in UK will reportedly be issued with mobile fingerprint scanners so they can check peoples' identities in the street.

The hand-held devices are no bigger than a BlackBerry smartphone and will apparently be issued to every police force in the UK under a scheme called Mobile Identification At Scene (Midas).

They will enable officers to scan suspects' fingerprints on the spot and compare them against records on the police national biometric database, Ident1.

It is claimed the scanners will save police time and cut the number of wrongful arrests.
Currently, officers have to take suspects to custody suites to check their fingerprints - a procedure that takes an average of 67 minutes.

Details of the hand-held technology, which may ultimately be able to receive pictures of suspects, were revealed at a conference presentation by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NIPA).

The devices are expected to be in widespread use within 18 months.

I was trying to find out a bit more about these devices; which technology they use and how is the data transferred over the air but no luck. Any information would be useful.

Monday 27 October 2008

Customisable services on their way

According to a survey in Mformation:

80 percent of respondents to the survey indicated that they would use mobile services more if greater personalization were possible. 67 percent of mobile subscribers stated they would be willing to pay a premium to personalize their mobile devices and the applications and services on them. In fact, 86 percent of people said this would enrich their mobile experience. The research also revealed that over two thirds (68%) of mobile users find buying a phone frustrating when they know that there are applications and services on it that they will never use. This clearly demonstrates that greater personalization offers an opportunity to unlock pent-up demand.
The research also found the following results:
  • Revenue-generating mobile data services such as mobile email (43%), Internet (51%) and picture messaging (46%) are gaining ground as the most frequently used applications.
  • There are still a large number of people who never or rarely use these applications (email – 57 %, Internet – 49%, picture messaging – 54%).
  • More than half of people who don’t currently have access to these applications would use them if they were made available in a simple and compelling manner (email – 62%, Internet – 58%, picture messaging – 68%).

94 percent of consumers are already attempting to personalize their phones with items like specific ringtones or accessories. However, 89 percent said that they would like a higher level of personalization through the ability to pick and mix applications, services, and other characteristics of the handset such as form factors and designs. Moreover, 81 percent would switch to a provider that offered greater choice for customization.

Now, a forthcoming update to the Open Mobile Alliance Device Management (OMA DM) standard for mobile phones will make it easier for users to personalise their handset, for which there is enormous potential demand

Matt Bancroft, Mformation vice president, said that operators have a strong role to play in making this happen, and stand to gain as many respondents indicated that they would switch carrier and be prepared to pay extra for the ability to customise their handset.

Bancroft suggested that the OMA DM extensions, due to be ratified in 2009, will enable users of feature phones to customise their handset as much as high-end smartphone users already can.

"In essence, the update adds a new managed object defined for delivery, installation, activation and management of applications," he said.

The new extension, called Software Component Management Object, is already available as a pre-ratified version in Mformation's management tools for mobile operators, according to Bancroft.

"It also means profound things for software developers. A billion and a half mobile phones are sold each year, so there will be a much broader market for applications in the next 12-18 months once this standard becomes available," he said.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Femtocells may not be that close to deployment yet

Recently Zahid Ghadialy in his blog mentioned about the first deployment of Femotcells by NEC and Ubiquisys. Since then you must have thought that the femotcells will pick up and will be commercialized very soon. I am not hundred percent sure this is the case though as I have come across few articles which suggest that operators are no way near to the launch of femtocells for various reasons.

While the enthusiasm for femtocells continues unabated, several of the mobile operators that have once taken the lead are having second thoughts due to unresolved technical issues and unclear business cases.

These concerns came to the surface during the Femtocell Europe 2008 conference when SFR said it had delayed selecting a femtocell supplier because of undefined industry standards. The company said that the expected deployment of the technology now would not commence until sometime next year.

SFR, of which Vodafone Group owns 44 per cent, participated in Vodafone's group-level request for proposals for femtocells last year, but it also issued its own RFQ separately. "We're assessing another technology in parallel," said Thierry Berthouloux, network solutions director at SFR. "However, we have decided to extend that assessment period and have put this process on hold to give equipment suppliers time to consolidate roadmaps. There's no point making a decision today."

In my view it is very important that if femtocells have to be a success then there should be agreed standard so that there is no confusion as such towards the technology. When I say confusion what I mean is that if there is a set and agreed standard then most of the questions or doubts will be answered. According to those close to the situation, the issue for the major operators in agreeing to a standard is the need for clarity on 3GPP status and the lack of resource being provided by the larger femtocell vendors to achieve this.

Although the above scenario does present a bleak picture but all is not lost for femtocells commercialization. Some operators although having some concerns have not given up on femtocells and are continuing with their trials and testing.

Once of such operator is Telefonica O2, which having already conducted consumer and equipment trials earlier this year, is now looking to another femtocell pilot early next year. Although this retesting will mean O2 will miss its earlier forecast of a commercial femtocell launch during Q1/09 but at the same time it does presents a hopeful image for O2’s commercial launch of femtocells.
The femtocells developer Ubiquisys, which took part in O2's trial this year, said a phased approach should not be unexpected and would be typical of the way operators evaluate new technologies and products, such as femtocells.

But in my view O2’s retrial itself is not enough and I firmly believe that if femtocell technology has to be a success then other operators must join O2 as well, given that O2 has been a firm advocate for the technology anyway. It is true that there are operators other than O2 who might be interested in the technolgy and hence will be interested in the deployment of femtocells. But the delay in O2 plans might draw a conclusion for these other operators that the business case for 3G home access points and services remains in question. This might also bring into doubt reports that 2010 would be the year of significant deployments for femtocells in Europe.

Whatever is the outcome I do hope that the industry gets their acts together and work their socks off towards the success of femtocells?

The femtocell market is primed to grow in 2008 and hence the global revenues generated by the femtocell equipment vendors are forecast to grow as well. Whatever the discrepancy over the market size, the perception of significant growth in femtocells illustrates the potential opportunity both technically and commercially.

Friday 24 October 2008

LTE Femtocells: Stepping stone for killer applications

I am speaking in the LTE World Summit on 19th November and the title of my presentation is LTE Femtocells: Stepping stone for killer applications.

I am interested in hearing peoples opinions and views about this topic. You can emails me [my first name].[my last name]@yahoo.com. If you give me ideas then in return I will send you my presentation after I have presented it in the conference.

You can download the brochure from here.

Thursday 23 October 2008

LTE and LTE-Advanced Official Logos now available

3GPP has finally decided to release the official logos and they will be using them extensively to promote LTE and LTE-Advanced. At the same time, the 3GPP website will be revamped and made to look a bit modern. This is the offical comment:

To establish the LTE term as a 3GPP brand, I have been working with the legal team to establish our claim to be the owner of the term.

In May 2008, the ETSI legal team submitted the term LTE as a trade mark, this will allow us to use the term and to be a guardian to ensure that it is not hi-jacked by external organisations. The process has now been completed for France, which allows us to extend trademark protection for “LTE” through an International Registration.

Two new logos have been created to promote the Technical Specifications and Reports for LTE and LTE-Advanced. The logos will be used to identify 3GPP deliverables that contain features that enable LTE or LTE-A.

The logos will also allow 3GPP to leverage its lead in LTE, by use of the logo on marketing material (Web sites, Brochures, Booths, etc.).

via: LTE watch.

10Million+ iPhones in 2008

Apple sold 6.89 million iPhones in its FY2008 4th quarter ending Sept. 27. According to the Merc,, the iPhone was the US leader for smartphone sales during that period, surpassing the BlackBerry.

This figure is slightly below the estimates of the biggest iPhone boosters, and totals only 9.3 million phones for the year. However, MacWorld reports that Apple has confirmed that it passed the 10 million mark in the past few weeks after the end of the quarter. This means that with the Christmas season their 2008 sales should easily surpass 12 million units.

Before the iPhone was released, many (notably including Steve Ballmer) predicted they would not hit 10 million.

The company has so far sold 6.9 million iPhone 3G units, eclipsing the 6.1 BlackBerry sales pushed by RIM in the same quarter.

Apple outsold RIM last quarter, and this is a milestone for us. RIM is a good company that makes good products, and so it is surprising that we could outsell them in any quarter after only 15 months in the market,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

According to Tomi Ahonen at ForumOxford:

Apple reports it sold 6.9 million units of the 3G iPhone. That compares with 6.1 million units of the original 2G iPhone. During the past 4 quarters, total 2G and 3G iPhone sales were 11.6 million, so Apple did clear its stated target of 10 million iPhone sales during fiscal year 2008 by a happy margin of 16%.So the installed base of iPhones (2G and 3G) is 13 million today, and more than half of all iPhones in use today are 3G versions.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Bank inside a Phone

Yes you read it correctly, A Little World (ALW), a Mumbai-based company, which has come up with a unique idea: turning a regular mobile phone to play the role of a bank’s branch.

Faced with the challenge of creating affordable solutions to enable penetration of banking in rural areas, ALW came up with this solution. The equipment costs not more than Rs 30,000 (pounds 400 or $700) through which a bank’s branch becomes functional and offers facilities like depositing/withdrawing money, electronic money transfer, crediting of pension money and also having an online passbook.

Other peripherals that make up the branch are a printer-cum-fingerprint scanning machine, cash box to store upto Rs one lakh in cash and a high resolution camera. The mobile phone can store data of upto 50,000 customers including the entire identification profile comprising a picture and six fingerprint templates among other details.

A big opportunity was unlocked after RBI announced a new policy initiative to allow banks to do business using the ‘business correspondent’ model. Under this, a bank ties up with third parties like ALW’s clients Zero Mass to conduct business in far-off areas on behalf of the banks. All the mobile phones have latest security features and are connected to ALW (the technology and backend partner for Zero mass) servers using GPRS or EDGE technology. The ALW server is in turn connected to the core-banking server of the client bank due to which a transaction is made possible just like it happens in a conventional way.

The critical necessity to opening a branch though is the availability of mobile coverage at the villages and ALW has tie ups with all the major GSM mobile phone operators in the country. Zero Mass currently has tie ups with 24 banks to operate their banking operations in remote and unserviced areas across 18 Indian states.

Christened as ‘Zero Platform’ for branchless banking based on mobile, a branch is typically set up in the village grocery store or panchayat office. Peripherals like the printer and camera are connected to the mobile phone using Bluetooth technology and the entire system has been designed so that it can function even during power cuts, which the villages often experience. “The selected handset (either Nokia or Motorola) has features for encryption and decryption of data through which we can make use of a public medium like GPRS to send data,” says ALW’s Chief Technology Officer Anurag Gupta.

In a short span of a year, ALW has set up over 2,800 branches for Zero Mass across the country and has plans to increase the total number of branches to 5,000 by December this year. The accounts are opened free for a period of 10 years and Zero Mass currently boasts of over 12 lakh accounts with around 20,000 added everyday. “The mobile phone operated branch is a great idea. I fail to understand why others in the same space like us have not made use of existing technologies to come up with feasible solutions like this which offer exponential growth opportunity due to low capital expenditure,” says Gupta.

Zero Mass’s motto is to increase electronic transactions like payments and crediting of accounts , Gupta says. Keeping this in view, customers are encouraged to use the account for electronic money transfer, insurance premium payments, depositing of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) wages and pension funds in the account. As a pilot project, mobile recharge payments are also being done through Zero Mass-operated branches.

ALW gets a certain amount as technical fees for rendering its services while Zero Mass gets a percentage as commission for each deposit and withdrawal transaction made at the branch. Gupta, also a director at Zero Mass, says the way forward for the company is to make use of the platform for more profitable transactions offering bigger commissions such as mobile phone recharges and railway ticket booking.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Femtocells for Radiation proofed homes

Over the weekend, I visited an old colleague who has moved in a new development. I was surprised to get nearly no reception on both my phones which are on different networks. Just outside their house the reception was ok but inside there was none. On inquiring I found out that the developers in some new construction are giving option to people to have their house "Radiation Proofed". This means that they will paint the interior with ssome special paint and put a thin film coating on the windows. So now the occupants of the house are protected by harmful radiation from mobile antennas, other WiFi signals, UV radiation, etc., etc. What people dont tend to realise is that their mobiles will become nearly useless in the house. This will be the case untill Femtocells are rolled out.

My ex-colleague is very interested in the Femtocells now since he has no reception on mobiles in his house but unfortunately he will have to wait for some time.

Google search revealed an article titled Cellphone Signal Blocking via transparent window film (via engadget ... but for some reason the engadget site hangs ... so I have given actual cellular news link) which gives information on someone recently making these films.

Anyone aware of some more of these kinds of films? Any ideas on how much radiation-proofing they can provide? Should we all be having these once Femtocells are here and then just having controlled radiation in our house? I am interested in hearing opinions and suggestions.

Saturday 18 October 2008

Economic turbulence might effect funding of LTE and WiMax?

What a past few weeks we had in term of banking crises. There is no doubt that the recent turbulence in the banking sector has developed nervousness in everybody regarding the future we are going to have. I firmly believe that although the bail out has been carried by respective governments for the banks the turbulence will slip into the real economy before it starts getting better.

There is every possibility that in the near future the economic turbulence will have an impact on the funding of the projects. Some people may argue that efficient and good planning will take us through and hence the projects will not be affected. But the only question I am asking though is where the money will come from?

I do have a suspicion that as far as telecoms are concerned some of the major projects that will get affected in terms of funding will be LTE and WiMax.

We could we see analysts recalculating their projections for WiMAX and LTE soon in light of the struggling economy. There are many people out there who are putting a question mark in front of the plans that the major operators have got for LTE and WiMax. For example this week Forbes is questioning whether Sprint and the new Clearwire, which is expected to include Sprint's WiMAX network in the fold by the end of the year, can pull off a nationwide launch in a troubled economy. While Clearwire will have $3.2 billion from partners Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner and Brighthouse, it will need to raise an additional $2 billion to complete the network. These extra $2 billion would have been easy to generate may be a year ago but no in the current climate where there is already a shortage of money.

I am a firm believer that sometime these crises are good as this makes analysts, planning personal, designers and engineers realize to work hard and sort out the problems which they might have been complacently ignored in good times. Keeping in line with this thought, Clearwire could gain an advantage if the credit crunch lingers. Competitors AT&T and Verizon Wireless plan to deploy LTE and would likely freeze any deployments. For AT&T, such a deployment could be more than five years away as the operator doesn't seem to be in a big hurry to deploy the technology.

As I mentioned above sometimes these crises force the analysts to think hard and make sensible decisions.
For this reason I can now see that some of the companies have started taking HSPA and HSPA+ seriously which I though was always a good bet for fast mobile broadband till we get LTE. Some of operators and vendors have now reiterated their position that its HSPA and HSPA+ 3G network technology still had a lot of life left in it, and that LTE technology would not be rolled out for at least another three years and probably not on a large commercial scale for another five years.

Certainly the idea of throwing LTE on the backburner is not good for vendors that want to see operators invest in new technology soon. I am not saying this either but in the current economic climate operators and vendors can take HSPA and HSPA+ seriously do that the ARPU(average revenue per user) keep rising. If they are able to do so then the revenue generated can be used to fund the LTE/WiMax project. And once the economy starts rolling again which I’m sure will do in six months, money can pumped in heavily and vigorous plans can be drafted for LTE/WiMax.

The bigger question which arises is whether the operators can hook consumers on new technology in a tough economy. I believe they certainly can because HSPA and HSPA+ have lot to offer to consumers.

There are some analysts though which does not believe that that current economic climate will significantly impact communications usage and growth. They argue that communications are critical and relatively cheap compared to the real costly items for disposable income such as air travel, cars, home upgrades, schools, clothes, etc. They say communication revenues will probably increases and I think they might have a point here.

With the medicine provided by the governments of rich nations in terms of liquidity yet to reach to the patients, it will be a while before things start to look bit better. Let’s hope that the economy starts rolling again.