Category Archives: Mobility

All Fun and Games with Your Waterproof Smartphone Case

At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, there were many case vendors, and some were touting decent depths and times for waterproof smartphone cases.  I think a fun activity for the kids, and adults this summer may be to toss the phone into the pool, and an application can chime sonar, just like those items you toss in the water, and the kids race to see who gets them first.  Of course, different submersibles are worth varying points, typically the blue ones, which match the pool liner will be worth more points.  I wonder what the Jaws theme sounds like under water?  How about at night, might be fun to toss the phone into the water and see a light show.  Maybe throw on a laser splitter to the mini USB port, and you can have a funky laser light show under water.  Sigh. I don’t get invited to those parties anymore.

Consumer Electronics Show Highlight: The Chipset Challenge

Today I talked with a few brilliant engineers about their latest, to be released Chipsets, and was I blown away by the brilliance of these product engineers and managers.  Two chips I would like to briefly highlight today are the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, and the Nvidia Tegra 4 Chipset advancements.

Qualcomm

The Qualcomm Snapdragon Chipset is so off the charts amazing from a consumer standpoint, they had a room with a tablet plugged into a large high definition headset, and the room encapsulated a complete set of surround sound speakers, as well as each chair was equipped with a common headset.  The tablet was plugged into the HD system through an HDMI cable, and that was it.  I won’t bore you about 2K verses 4K High Definition upgrade standards, but what I can tell you was the video sequence they played on this Android tablet was of such high caliber quality and no lag whatsoever, and the sound was so superb, it would in fact give ANY of the movie theaters I have been to ever, a run for their money.  I have been to quite a few movies in my lifetime.

The Nvidia team had us put on the headsets, which were your basic headsets, nothing special, but the same N channel surround sound that came out of each channel, e.g. center, front & side left, front & side right, and back channels was emulated through the headsets with the same superior sound quality, and power.  The demonstrators had us remove our headsets as they were blasting sound through each channel, and we couldn’t believe the sound was not coming through the speakers, but was coming through the headsets themselves.

Qualcomm is looking at the second half of this year for general release to be pushed to their partners, and/or the consumers.  That part was unclear, however, what was clear, was the amazing power you will have in your Android tablet coming soon.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800

Nvidia

I had the rare pleasure to speak with an amazing engineer at NVidia that took the time and patience to go through advancements of the Nvidia Tegra 4 Chipset.  Instead of giving you the granular tech jargonese that we went through, I will sum it up in two ways.  The Nvidia Tegra 3 Chipset already had an efficiency with a 5th core that primarily remained idle, and was used to gain battery life in mobile phones.  What it did, and continues to do in the Tegra 4, at an idle period of the phone, instead of using these four massive processors to burn up the battery life, this 5th ‘light weight’, low power consumption core would handle the idle times, and give the four massive boys a rest.  This extends the battery life significantly.  Well, now the boys and girls at Nvidia said, after Tegra 3, hey, we have this 5th core, let’s allow ourselves to push the envelope slightly, not only use this core for battery life efficiency on your phone, but let’s let the mobile applications have access to this core so now you have 4 mean, powerful cores hard at work, and one slightly advanced core being used for both efficiency and graphical applications, like games.  Brilliant.

Nvidia Tegra 4
Nvidia Tegra 4

Finally, Nvidia doesn’t stop there, it is now in the business development phase of bringing you cloud gaming, essentially Elastic Computing for Graphical Calculations in a cloud with an exponential set of these Chipsets, where you can subscribe to this gaming service, and all of the hard core tough calculations of rendering graphics at lighting speed is done in the cloud, and just the basic pixels get pushed to your phone, relatively a really light weight signature. Your phone or computer becomes a terminal emulator, which can focus on your inputs, instead of graphic rendering, and the cloud does all the hard work, again, brilliant, and the future of gaming.  The engineer and I just looked at each other, and we knew, this was the pie in the sky for the gaming industry.  Hold on to your hats, this is going to be a wild ride.  Now, they are still in the stage where they must solidify the details with a cloud company that hosts these servers, and provides the gaming service, e.g. business development, but the technology has arrived.  In addition, engineering and science packages like Mathematica may also use this type of Elastic Computing High Yield for massive calculations.

Nvidia Grid Cloud Gaming
Nvidia Grid Cloud Gaming

 

Consumer Electronics Show Highlight: Plantronics Plus Innovation, Really? Yes!

As I was walking by the Platronics booth, I noticed a friendly gentleman, and he turned out to me the product manager for the firm, and introduced me to two products.  I have used Platronics headsets over the years at many firms had have been extremely satisfied with the quality of the head sets, from my college days of telemarketing to help pay for college, to the never ending conference calls for meetings.  So I was quite familiar with the VoIP, as well as other explored avenues in this space, and quite honestly, I found very little, that might excite me in this space until I met, Platronics new Voyager Legend UC.  Actually, it was recently released, in October it became Generally Available; however, this CES show was the first time they were showcasing their device. It is an absolute necessity for anyone in the market for a Bluetooth headset.  The features are literally off the charts exciting, that I will have to bullet point them out.

  • The Voyager Legend UC is the first time the company is spreading it’s wings this year in the iOS,and Android application arenas.  They have two fantastic applications, which in my humble opinion, they are not touting enough: one is a Find MyHeadset app, not as exciting, but the other is an InstantMeeting app.  This application will be your assistant, who arranges your phone calls, she is fabulous.  The application reads your calendar for one or multiple numbers, and is capable of conferencing the numbers at the stated time in your Android or iPhone smartphones.
  • In addition to the Android and iPhone applications, this is the amazing part. Platronics has now created an SDK to allow Android and iOS developers to create their own applications, which can be quite numerous.  The internal team is apparently constrained in resources to develop a host of applications they visualize, so they are hoping the development community will take up the challenge, and if you will think about the potential applications, as I go through the power of this headset, you will jump onto your IDEs (Independent Development Environments), and start your venture into these applications.
  • This headset has voice recognition, so it will announce callers, and read off the caller identification, as well as provide battery life notifications.  In addition, I believe the unit is receptive to voice recognition commands.  Now with an API, one application I would LOVE to see in the market place as a project manager, is an application that will take meeting minutes for me, I proof read them, and send them out after the meeting.  Fabulous.  Everyone on a conference call wants a list of action items, you are furiously jotting down notes at the same time facilitating the call, and the two are sometimes challenging to perform.  If a keen app developer takes advantage of the Platronics API for the Voyager Legend UC, they can create variations of this application.
  • The headset fits into a case that actually charges the headset while not in use, and not plugged into any exterior source.  I am done talking and on the road, no need for a car charger for my phone and my headset, I just put the headset back in it’s compact case, and it’s ready to go for our next meeting, plus the headset and case have a magnetic lock, so it holds the headset in place.  Brilliant.
  • This rechargeable battery is amazing, the talk and standby time meets the top criteria in the industry.
  • Finally, it’s  Bluetooth, and may connect to either your phone or through a computer. The computer connectivity will get slightly higher quality, wide band verses narrow, however, Skype and Microsoft’s own solution have custom drivers to enhance the quality of the call with Voice over IP with this headset.

In short, for the business man, or anyone who spends a great deal of time on the phone, this headset is a must have, and for 199 USD, it is a steal.

Platronics Voyager Legend UC
Platronics Voyager Legend UC

Consumer Electronics Show Highlight: Ford SYNC AppLink Developer Program Launch

Today I spoke with a Development System Engineer from the Ford SYNC AppLink Team at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and he was extremely enthusiastic about their launch of their API which enables developers of Android and iOS mobile applications to use the SYNC AppLink SDK APIs so a developer may take advantage of SYNC through your mobile device.  The SYNC AppLink software development kit (SDK) the software engineer admitted that the library was relatively limited to roughly 50 API calls (estimate off the cuff), however, they are constantly looking to expand the SDK.  They are recommending utilizing the Voice Recognition API as an example.

As I explored the conversation with this System Engineer / Developer, I tossed a few ideas, and wanted to see the direction of the team.  I suggested expanding the SYNC technology to link the system to measuring tire air pressure, fuel, oil, and other liquids, as well as ‘by the book’ scheduled maintenance, air filtration quality, and so on.  Then the SYNC AppLink team would expose these functions through the SDK, so that mobile application developers can create applications from dashboards, which sync with the phone through Bluetooth automatically every time the user gets in the car, and has an up to date check of their whole car health and maintenance in or out of the vehicle.   There are endless opportunities, such as mobile notifications on low fuel, maintenance, and even may enter a reminder in a task list named after your car, e.g. need 60 thousand mile maintenance, and oil quality poor, must change oil.

There were some potential limitations such as the display of the SYNC system, the SYNC AppLink Development team try to steer clear from distracting the user by exposing the APIs which may allow the mobile development users to modify the graphical user interface, e.g. flashing menus, which may distract the user, and may cause an accident, which would potentially have liability concerns.  At most, they are looking to allow mobile application developers using the SYNC AppLink SDK to push smartphone pictures to an image frame, so you can see your phone pictures.  However, in my humble opinion, there may be significant opportunities, such as a sexier, and more accurate equalizer controls.  At last, we have the ability for SYNC AppLink SDK developers in the future to access information from your phone, such as calendar, stocks, tasks, and use the car sound system and SYNC microphone to add, hear, delete, and subtract any information from your mobile device.

I walked down the isle to another company, chargepoint, which manufactures charging stations, which are reasonably priced for stations at 5 to 10 thousand USD.  This is a system which is rugged and can endure outdoor conditions.  If we take the SYNC technology and integrate it into a Ford Hybrid & Electric Vehicle to analyze electric usage and be able to maximize your electrical charge.  Chargepoint happens to also have an the ability to have an affinity card.  That is for another post.  There are quite a few stories, and it is still early in the week.  Looking for the diamonds in the rough.

One note, although Ford went after Google Android and iOS first because of market share,  you can be sure, Windows Mobile 8 is not far behind.

Actor Voice Overs for Apple’s Siri and Google’s AI Voice

There should be add on, for purchase, modification packs, for the smartphone’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Voice Command module, e.g. SIRI, or Google’s AI Voice Recognition, this way any retired, or semi retired actor gets easy money going into a studio recording their well known voice, and royalties go to the companies that are selling the AI voice over modification package, so instead of the standard woman’s voice, you can get anyone who would sell their voice.  It should be extremely easy to implement, the voice is probably a vocabulary indexed with certain words.  The actors or actresses need to record their voices saying a specific set of words as defined by the library of words, and I hope the Android and Apple operating system companies thought ahead to make these libraries like plug and play adaptable.  If Apple or Google made the AI Voice API open so anyone can record their voice and interchange with the default voice, actors, actresses, musicians, or anyone can sell their voice in the Mobile Vendor’s marketplace as an add on module.

Reduce your Monthly Mobile Bill with a Mobile Affinity Credit Card

Mobile Reoccurring  Costs are Increasing.

The days of a “free phone upgrade” are behind us.  Month over month costs to pay off your costly mobile device in conjunction with a group mobile data plan could put a dent into your monthly digital discretionary spending.

Help Cushion the Impact of the Costs

Why not create an affinity credit card partnered with a financial institution and …

  • Mobile Operating System Co. (Apple [iOS] or Google [Android]
  • Mobile Carrier Co. (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless)

Every time you spend on the mobile affinity card, some portion of your purchase is subtracted from your mobile bill.  In addition, cardholders receive a percentage off qualifying, digital purchases, such as Google Play apps, songs, music, movies, and the same for the iTunes store. Content providers must ‘opt-in’ to allow discounts for this purchase plan.

The incentive around the Mobile OS CC is in line with unlocked phones.  OS CCs may reduce the cost of monthly use from the Mobile Carriers.