Category Archives: Cell Phones

An Operating System to Run It All

New contender:Meego will start appearing on phones in early 2011. This image shows the “home” screen.  Credit: Intel

Intel”s MeeGo will let apps span tablets, phones, and TVs.

By Tom Simonite

Apple and Google will soon have more than just each other to worry about in the race to provide the software for smart phones and tablets. Later this month, Intel will announce that its MeeGo operating system is ready to run devices including touch screen tablets and phones.

Devices running MeeGo are likely to start appearing in early 2011. Netbooks are expected to appear first, then tablets and phones. MeeGo is different from Apple”s iOS platform for the iPhone, iPod and iPad or Google”s Android operating system, says Intel”s head of open source strategy, Ram Peddibhotla, because it is intended to seamlessly link multiple devices. “MeeGo is ground-up designed and targeted at multiple devices–netbooks, phones, and TV devices,” he says, describing a world in which a consumer could own multiple devices running the new operating system. “This allows these devices to work together more simply,” he says. “For example, with a flick of your finger, transferring a movie or any other content onto another device.”

Intel showed off this kind of functionality on some MeeGo-powered gadgets at its recent developers” event in San Francisco. One demo showed how a movie being streamed to a MeeGo netbook could be transferred to a TV set top box or even a phone; another showed how a netbook or tablet running MeeGo could be used in place of a TV remote to control a MeeGo-powered TV device.

Apple has also shown an interest in having its devices work together, and in making it possible to use an iPhone to control Apple TV or to stream video from an iPad or computer to Apple TV.

But Peddibhotla maintains that only an operating system built for multiple platforms from the start can really blur the lines between them. “We offer the same core programming interfaces across all devices and that creates a lot of opportunity for developers and manufacturers–more than if you try and push a certain operating system in a new direction.”

That last comment may be a dig at Google”s Android operating system for smart phones. Manufacturers have found it difficult to use that system to make tablets capable of taking on the iPad.

http://www.technologyreview.com/communications/26474/?p1=A1

Can You Analyze Me Now? Cell Phones Bring Spectroscopy to the Classroom

A few basic, inexpensive components and a cellular pone are all high school students need to build a spectrometer, a widely used analytical chemistry instrument. (Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer)

University of Illinois chemistry professor Alexander Scheeline wants to see high school students using their cell phones in class. Not for texting or surfing the Web, but as an analytical chemistry instrument.

Scheeline developed a method using a few basic, inexpensive supplies and a digital camera to build a spectrometer, an important basic chemistry instrument. Spectrophotometry is one of the most widely used means for identifying and quantifying materials in both physical and biological sciences.

“If we want to measure the amount of protein in meat, or water in grain, or iron in blood, it”s done by spectrophotometry,” Scheeline said.

Many schools have a very limited budget for instruments and supplies, making spectrometers cost-prohibitive for science classrooms. Even when a device is available, students fail to learn the analytical chemistry principles inherent in the instrument because most commercially available devices are enclosed boxes. Students simply insert samples and record the numbers the box outputs without learning the context or thinking critically about the process.

“Science is basically about using your senses to see things — it”s just that we”ve got so much technology that now it”s all hidden,” Scheeline said.

“The student gets the impression that a measurement is something that goes on inside a box and it”s completely inaccessible, not understandable — the purview of expert engineers,” he said. “That”s not what you want them to learn. In order to get across the idea, ”I can do it, and I can see it, and I can understand it,” they”ve go to build the instrument themselves. “

So Scheeline set out to build a basic spectrometer that was not only simple and inexpensive but also open so that students could see its workings and play with its components, encouraging critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. It wouldn”t have to be the most sensitive or accurate instrument — in fact, he hoped that obvious shortcomings of the device would reinforce students” understanding of its workings.

“If you”re trying to teach someone an instrument”s limitations, it”s a lot easier to teach them when they”re blatant than when they”re subtle. Everything goes wrong out in the open,” he said.

In a spectrometer, white light shines through a sample solution. The solution absorbs certain wavelengths of light. A diffraction grating then spreads the light into its color spectrum like a prism. Analyzing that spectrum can tell chemists about the properties of the sample.

For a light source, Scheeline used a single light-emitting diode (LED) powered by a 3-volt battery, the kind used in key fobs to remotely unlock a car. Diffraction gratings and cuvettes, the small, clear repositories to hold sample solutions, are readily available from scientific supply companies for a few cents each. The entire setup cost less than $3. The limiting factor seemed to be in the light sensor, or photodetector, to capture the spectrum for analysis.

“All of a sudden this light bulb went off in my head: a photodetector that everybody already has! Almost everybody has a cell phone, and almost all phones have a camera,” Scheeline said. “I realized, if you can get the picture into the computer, it”s only software that keeps you from building a cheap spectrophotometer.”

To remove that obstacle, he wrote a software program to analyze spectra captured in JPEG photo files and made it freely accessible online, along with its source code and instructions to students and teachers for assembling and using the cell-phone spectrometer. It can be accessed through the Analytical Sciences Digital Library.

Scheeline has used his cell-phone spectrometers in several classroom settings. His first classroom trial was with students in Hanoi, Vietnam, as part of a 2009 exchange teaching program Scheeline and several other U. of I. chemistry professors participated in. Although the students had no prior instrumentation experience, they greeted the cell-phone spectrometers with enthusiasm.

In the United States, Scheeline used cell-phone spectrometers in an Atlanta high school science program in the summers of 2009 and 2010. By the end of the 45-minute class, Scheeline was delighted to find students grasping chemistry concepts that seemed to elude students in similar programs using only textbooks. For example, one student inquired about the camera”s sensitivity to light in the room and how that might affect its ability to read the spectrum.

“And I said, ”You”ve discovered a problem inherent in all spectrometers: stray light.” I have been struggling ever since I started teaching to get across to university students the concept of stray light and what a problem it is, and here was a high school kid who picked it right up because it was in front of her face!” Scheeline said.

Scheeline has also shared his low-cost instrument with those most likely to benefit: high school teachers. Teachers participating in the U. of I. EnLiST program, a two-week summer workshop for high school chemistry and physics teachers in Illinois, built and played with cell-phone spectrometers during the 2009 and 2010 sessions. Those teachers now bring their experience — and assembly instructions — to their classrooms.

Scheeline wrote a detailed account of the cell-phone spectrometer and its potential for chemistry education in an article published in the journal Applied Spectroscopy. He hopes that the free availability of the educational modules and software source code will inspire programmers to develop smart-phone applications so that the analyses can be performed in-phone, eliminating the need to transfer photo files to a computer and turning cell phones into invaluable classroom tools.

“The potential is here to make analytical chemistry a subject for the masses rather than something that is only done by specialists,” Scheeline said. “There”s no doubt that getting the cost of equipment down to the point where more people can afford them in the education system is a boon for everybody.”

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101007171411.htm

Sony Reveals World''s First 16.41MP Camera Sensor for Mobile Phones

New Sony CMOS sensors  (Source: Sony)

By Shane McGlaun

New sensors will be used in lenses for mobile phones

Sony makes a wide range of digital cameras and today announced a new CMOS image sensor that promises to greatly increase the quality of images that are taken on mobile devices.

The new sensor is the world”s first 16.41-megapixel Exmor R back-illuminated image sensor for a mobile phone. Sony plans to launch two new lens modules that use the new sensor and those sensors will be the smallest and thinnest for Mobile phones and marks the first time for the Exmor R to be used in camera phones.

The technical name for the new 1/2.8 back illuminated CMOS senor is the IMX081PQ. Another offering in the family is the IMX105PQ with the same back-illuminated sensor and a lower 8.13-megapixel resolution. Both of the sensors will be used in mobile phones. The new sensors will be commercialized inside the IU081F and IU105F2 compact autofocus lens modules for phones with limited space. The IU081F is hailed as the industry”s smallest and thinnest autofocus lens module at 10.5mm W x 8.5mm D x 7.9mm H and packs in the full resolution 16.41-megapixel CMOS sensor.

The lesser resolution IU105F2 also claims a smallest and lightest title for its size of 8.5mm W x 8.5mm D x 5.67mm H with 8.13-megapixel resolution. The sensors also boast the industry”s smallest unit pixel size of 1.12μm. Small images taken with the new sensors show that they perform much better than conventional images sensors with sharper resolution and significantly improved performance in low light.

The IMX081PQ CMOS sensor is capable of shooting in full resolution at 15fps, half resolution at 30fps, and 1/8 resolution at 120fps. HD modes include 1080-30P and 720-60P.

Sony offers no indication of when these new lenses and sensors will find their way into mobile phones.

http://www.dailytech.com/Sony+Reveals+Worlds+First+1641MP+Camera+Sensor+for+Mobile+Phones/article19820.htm

iPhone 4 RELEASE

SAN FRANCISCO — The next iPhone comes out June 24 and will have a higher-resolution screen, longer battery life and thinner design.

CEO Steve Jobs opened Apple Inc.’s annual conference for software developers Monday by revealing the iPhone 4, which will cost $199 (16 GB version) or $299 (32 GB version) in the U.S. with a two-year AT&T contract, depending on the capacity. The iPhone 3GS, which debuted last year, will still be available, for $99.

The iPhone 4 is about three-eighths of an inch thick; the previous iPhone was nearly half an inch. Steve Jobs said the new iPhone would be “thinnest smartphone on the planet,” nearly a quarter thinner than the previous model.

The display on the new iPhone remains 3.5 inches diagonally, but Jobs said it can show four times as many pixels – the individual colored dots that make up an image – as the previous screen. He emphasized its “Retina Display” technology, which will enhance the iPhone’s screen resolution. “We think this is going to set the standard for displays for years to come,” Jobs said at WWDC. “It may be the most important single component of the hardware, and we’ve got something here now that’s like the best window on the planet. So that’s the Retina Display.” (quote via gdgt)

It is getting a camera on the front that could be used for videoconferencing, in addition to a five-megapixel camera and LED flash on the back. It can shoot high-definition video, catching up to some other smart phones, and includes a gyroscope that will unite the phone’s accelerometer, compass, proximity, and light sensors, according to a MacRumors tweet. Jobs explained Apple’s iPhones are “getting more and more intelligent about the world around them.”

The new phone will run the latest version of Apple’s mobile software, now called iOS4, which Apple unveiled in April to offer such new features as the ability to operate more than one program at a time. Older iPhones will be able to get iOS4 as a download June 21.

Follow link for more pictures -> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/07/new-iphone-4-release-pict_n_603156.html

AT&T Kills Unlimited Data Plan For iPhones, iPads

By PETER SVENSSON

NEW YORK — Just in time for the release of a new iPhone, AT&T will stop letting new customers sign up for its unlimited Internet data plan for smart phones and iPads and charge more for users who hog the most bandwidth.

AT&T hopes to ease congestion on its network, which has drawn complaints, particularly in big cities. But the approach could confuse customers unfamiliar with how much data it takes to watch a YouTube video or fire up a favorite app.

Current subscribers will be able to keep their $30-per-month unlimited plans, even if they renew their contracts. But starting Monday, new customers will have to choose one of two new data plans for all smart phones, including iPhones and BlackBerrys.

Subscribers who use little data – like those who may get dozens of e-mails a day but don’t watch much video – will pay slightly less every month than they do now, while heavy users will be dinged with higher bills.

The move takes effect in time for the expected unveiling of Apple’s new iPhone next week. Analysts said they expect other phone companies to follow. With no caps on consumption, data use could swamp wireless networks while revenue for the operators remains flat.

Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless carrier and AT&T’s chief rival, had no immediate comment on AT&T’s move. There has been much speculation about Verizon getting to sell its own version of the iPhone, but that prospect still appears distant.

One of the new AT&T plans will cost $25 per month and offer two gigabytes of data per month, which AT&T says will be enough for 98 percent of its smart phone customers. Additional gigabytes will cost $10 each.

A second plan will cost $15 per month for 200 megabytes of data, which AT&T says is enough for 65 percent of its smart phone customers. If they go over, they’ll pay another $15 for 200 more megabytes.

A gigabyte is enough for hundreds of e-mails and Web pages, but it’s quickly eaten up by Internet video and videoconferencing. The 200 megabytes offered under the $15 plan is enough for more than 1,000 e-mails, hundreds of Web pages and about 20 minutes of streaming video, AT&T says.

With the smaller plan and voice service, a smart phone could cost as little as $55 per month before taxes and add-on fees, down from $70 now. Ralph de la Vega, head of AT&T’s consumer business, said smart phones would become accessible to more people.

“Customers are getting a good deal, and if they can understand their usage, they can save some money,” de la Vega said in an interview.

Figuring out which plan to choose may not be easy, because many people have only a hazy notion of the size of a gigabyte and how many they use now. By contrast, a minute spent talking on the phone is easy to understand, and many people have learned roughly how many minutes they use every month.

The limits will apply only on AT&T’s cellular networks. Data usage over Wi-Fi networks, including AT&T’s public Wi-Fi “hot spots,” will not count toward the limits.

De la Vega noted that AT&T lets customers track their usage online. The iPhone also has a built-in usage tracking tool. And the carrier will also text subscribers to let them know they’re getting close to their limits.

Jason Prance, an iPhone 3G user in Atlanta, said his first reaction to the end of unlimited usage was to be “ticked off.”

“If you’re taking the ability to go unlimited away from people, you immediately get defensive,” he said.

But then he checked his data consumption on his iPhone for the first time and found he had never used more than 200 megabytes in a month. That surprised him, he said, because he sends and receives a lot of e-mail and watches online video now and then.

Now he figures he can save $30 per month by switching himself and his wife to the $15 plan.

For the iPad, the tablet computer Apple released a few months ago, the new $25-per-month plan will replace the $30 unlimited plan. IPad owners can keep the old unlimited plan as long as they keep paying $30 per month, AT&T said.

AT&T, based in Dallas, said the new plans shouldn’t materially affect its profits this year. Its stock rose 34 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $24.67 in Wednesday afternoon trading.

Customers have rebelled against the idea of data usage caps on broadband Internet at home, at least when limits are set low enough to make online video expensive. Time Warner Cable Inc. was forced to back away from trials of data caps last year after protests and threats of legislative action.

On wireless networks, where there’s less data capacity to go around, usage caps have been more common. Most wireless carriers, for instance, limit data cards for laptops to 5 gigabytes per month.

With competition for smart phone users intense, phone companies have been reluctant to impose data caps on those devices, although Sprint Nextel Corp. reserves the right to slow down or disconnect users who exceed 5 gigabytes per month.

Carriers have also started to lift limits on other use, selling plans with unlimited calling and text messaging. That’s not a big gamble because not many people have the time to talk on the phone for eight hours a day or spend every waking minute sending text messages. Smart phones, on the other hand, can draw a lot of data, depending on where and how they’re used.

___

Online:

AT&T’s data calculator, for consumption estimates:

http://www.att.com/standalone/data-calculator/index.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/02/att-data-plan-caps-phone-_n_597285.html

TR10: Mobile 3-D

3-D on the go: Released in South Korea in March, Samsung’s W960 mobile phone comes with 3-D video content, generated by Dynamic Digital Depth, that can be viewed without special glasses. Dynamic Digital Depth expects that its software to convert 2-D games to 3-D on the fly will be built into phones within the next two years.  Credit: Bryan Christie Design

Smart phones will take 3-D mainstream.

By Annalee Newitz

(From MIT Technology Review) This article is part of an annual list of what we believe are the 10 most important emerging technologies. See the full list here.

The Samsung B710 phone looks like a typical smart phone, but something unexpected happens when the screen is moved from a vertical to a horizontal orientation: the image jumps from 2-D to 3-D. The technology that produces this perception of depth is the work of Julien Flack, CTO of Dynamic Digital Depth, who has spent more than a decade perfecting software that can convert 2-D content to 3-D in real time. It could help solve the biggest problem with 3-D: the need for special glasses that deliver a separate image to each eye.

Flack’s software synthesizes 3-D scenes from existing 2-D video by estimating the depth of objects using various cues; a band of sky at the top of a frame probably belongs in the far background, for example. It then creates pairs of slightly different images that the viewer’s brain combines to produce the sensation of depth.

The technology can be used with the much-hyped 3-D televisions announced in January (which require glasses), but its biggest impact will be as a way to create content for mobile devices with auto­stereoscopic 3-D displays, which work by directing light to deliver different versions of an image directly to each of a viewer’s eyes. The effect works best over a narrow range of viewing angles, so it is ill suited to television or cinema screens. But phones are generally used by one person at a time and are easily held at the optimum angle. That’s why mobile multimedia devices are likely to win the race to bring 3-D into the mainstream.

Powered by Flack’s software, Dynamic Digital Depth has become an early leader in mobile 3-D. The software was built into the B710, which Samsung released in South Korea in 2007, and Samsung has licensed 3-D content generated by Dynamic Digital Depth for its latest 3-D phone, the W960, released in March. Research firm DisplaySearch recently predicted that by 2018 there will be 71 million such devices worldwide.

The most exciting area for Flack right now is games. Hundreds of games actually simulate 3-D spaces internally to handle mechanics such as the path of a missile, and then convert those 3-D spaces into 2-D to display to the player. With his technology, he says, the 3-D geometry “available inside the game itself” can be made accessible to the display. DDD has already released software that converts games to 3-D on PCs and expects to have similar software running on mobile devices in the next year or two.

It’s applications like mobile games and video that will drive the widespread adoption of 3-D screens. And that, in turn, could lay the groundwork for a new generation of surprising interfaces and applications, just as large 2-D screens on mobile devices spawned developments such as touch-based interfaces and augmented reality.

http://www.technologyreview.com/communications/25081/?a=f

2011 Ford Fiesta to include AppLink, voice-control Blackberry and Android apps

Ford SYNC with AppLink – Click the image for the high-res image gallery

by Damon Lavrinc

On our way to Stanford last week, we came across a murdered-out Toyota Prius with an “I♥OPEC” vanity plate. Prime Twitter fodder if we’ve ever seen it. Unfortunately, even with our smartphone streaming navigation directions and a podcast through the Ford Fusion’s SYNC system, we couldn’t safely tweet our find. Well, Ford’s about to rectify that issue with the introduction of AppLink, a downloadable upgrade to the SYNC infotainment system that allows drivers to control their smartphone apps through voice commands.

AppLink will be exclusive to the 2011 Ford Fiesta when it hits dealers later this year and, at launch, it will only work with Blackberry and Android-powered devices running SYNC software. When it does arrive, the first three supported apps are Stitcher, Pandora (bye-bye XM/Sirius) and Orangatame’s OpenBeak Twitter program. More apps are sure to be available in the following months and Ford has setup a developer channel on SYNCMyRide to get programmers going.

For those of you currently rolling in a SYNC-equipped Ford or Lincoln, AppLink will be available as a download sometime next year, and for all you Apple fanboys, fear not, iPhone integration is on the way. Make the jump for all the details and a brace of videos showing off the technology.

Follow link for Video demo -> http://www.autoblog.com/2010/04/20/2011-ford-fiesta-to-include-applink/