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Over the past few years, Lenovo has been one of Intel’s stalwart partners in the mobile phone business. The company has launched multiple Atom-based devices going back to the original Medfield SoC, and this year is no exception. Lenovo announced its P90 phone today — the first smartphone based on Intel’s 64-bit Atom.
Intel may have prominently announced imminent shipment of Cherry Trail devices, built on 14nm technology, but Lenovo is tapping the company’s 22nm silicon for this effort. The 22nm Z3560 SoC at the heart of the P90 is based on Intel’s Moorefield design, with a quad-core CPU and a burst clock of up to 1.83GHz. The GPU is based on Imagination Technologies’ G6430 — the same GPU inside the iPhone 5S. While no longer cutting-edge, it’s still more than sufficient for most tasks and mobile gaming.
A plethora of firms are racing to develop a feasible method for delivering power wirelessly, but thus far the best we’ve managed are short-range standards like Qi and PMA. A company called Energous is on hand at CES with a demo of its new wireless power system known amusingly as WattUp. It uses a mix of Bluetooth and RF to combine the convenience of wireless power with the security of a wireless network. If it all pans out, WattUp could juice up your phone from up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) away.
The heart of WattUp is a hub that’s basically a powerful RF transmitter station. Devices that want to receive power from the hub announce their presence via Bluetooth 4.0. WattUp then uses that connection to direct the wireless power signal to the device. It operates in the same unlicensed spectrum as WiFi, which makes me wonder about possible interference in busy wireless environments. Assuming the connection holds, though, the WattUp signal is absorbed and converted to DC power in the phone or tablet by a receiver chip.
Researchers at Northwestern University have devised a new method of creating large volumes of high-quality graphene, and then printing flexible graphene patterns with an inkjet printer that are 250 times more conductive than previous attempts.
When it comes to the next generation of electronics and computing, graphene has a unique combination of properties that make it an almost ideal material. Not only is it extremely conductive, but it’s very strong, chemically stable, and flexible. There are just two problems: It’s very hard to produce pure graphene in large quantities, and it’s proving quite hard to use graphene as a semiconductor (it doesn’t contain the all-important bandgap). Today, it seems like Northwestern may have solved the first problem — but the bandgap issue still remains at large.
Historically, graphene is produced through mechanical exfoliation — a fancy term that essentially means “peeling off layers of graphite using sticky tape.” This produces high-quality graphene, but it’s impossible to scale up to commercial production. Researchers have recently grown pure graphene on a copper substrate, using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), but it’s still a very slow process, and it’s unlikely to produce graphene in the quantities that we require. The better option for mass production is solution-phase exfoliation — flaking off graphene from graphite using a liquid solvent — but previous attempts have only produced very low quality flakes that don’t possess many of graphene’s “wonder material” properties. Now Northwestern has devised a new method, using ethanol and ethyl cellulose, that can be used to mass produce flakes of fairly high quality graphene.
Yesterday, with the simultaneous unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy Gear, Sony SmartWatch 2, and Qualcomm Toq, the smartwatch market was created out of thin air. There are some who will look back on this seminal day and breathlessly say that September 4 2013 was as important as the day that Steve Jobs held aloft the first iPhone. They will say that this was the moment that wearable computing, after decades of dreaming, finally became a reality. Me? I think these smartwatches aren’t smart at all, fall a long way short of actually providing useful wearable computing — and perhaps most terrifyingly, they have created the perfect opportunity for Apple to swoop in and steal the market, creating another iPhone- or iPad-like phenomenon.
What is a smartwatch?
Much in the same way that a smartphone is a smart phone, a smartwatch is a smart wristwatch. A smart wristwatch should fulfill all of the normal wristwatch criteria, and then add some smart functionality on top of that. A wristwatch must be comfortable, highly customizable to suit the wearer, and go for months or years without being recharged. The Gear, SmartWatch 2, and Toq, to put it mildly, are absolutely nothing like wristwatches. They all have noncustomizable straps, they’re all fairly bulky, and all have battery life that can be measured in hours rather than weeks. (See our sister site Geek.com for the full hardware and software specs of the Gear, SmartWatch 2, and Toq.)
At best, these smartwatches are wrist-worn mobile devices — but even then, they are crippled by their “from the future” appearance, limited battery life, and poor wireless connectivity. None of these devices have WiFi connectivity or a cellular modem — they all rely on being paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth for access to the internet or make calls. None of these devices look particularly good on your wrist. Heck, except for the SmartWatch 2, they’re not even splashproof as far as we can tell.
Wearable technology is undoubtedly the future of consumer electronics, and developers are already starting to recognize that style is just as important as functionality.
The latest video in our Mobile Minute series looks at these new designs, including a Google Glass redesign and the premiere of the Pebble Steel. “As form continues to marry function, wearables are set to hit mainstream,” says Interaction Designer Amanda Klohmann.
The Mobile Minute is a series from Mashable and Mutual Mobile, an emerging technology company that pushes innovation for top brands such as Audi, Google and Citigroup. For insights from their design, development, and strategy teams on mobile tech trends, check out the latest Mobile Minute episodes on the Ask a Dev YouTube channel and subscribe.
OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. —The trends in mobile continue to branch out in unexpected ways, as a recently released study says wearable technology–everything from smart glasses to watches–will sell about 10 million units in 2014, generating $3 billion.
New York City-based technology communications and research firm Deloitte predicted the wearable trend and another movement possibly affecting convenience stores, that of a continued growth in more robust mobile technology for the in-field workforce. These and other notable trends were reported in its Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions 2014 report released this month. Both trends may impact the c-store channel both in the store and for both operational and supply chain purposes.
“Our predictions for 2014 touch on a wide variety of topics, but there is some commonality among them. This can be seen specifically with mobile devices including tablets, wearables, phablets and also rugged devices,” said Eric Openshaw, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP. “These newer technologies allow enterprises and consumers to become more connected, while opening a wealth of new business and communication opportunities. Enterprises that can capitalize on these new market segments will be well positioned for success in 2014 and beyond.”
The most significant TMT predictions to impact the marketplace in 2014:
- Wearables: The eyes have it. Smart glasses, fitness bands and watches, should sell about 10 million units in 2014, generating $3 billion. Of these wearable computer form factors, smart glasses should generate most revenues, from sales of about four million units at an average selling price (ASP) of $500. Smart fitness bands should sell four million units, at an ASP of $140; smart watches should sell about two million units at an ASP of $200.
- The Converged Living Room: A plateau approaches. Global sales of smartphones, tablets, PCs, TV sets and videogame consoles will exceed $750 billion in 2014, up $50 billion from 2013 and almost double the 2010 total; however, a plateau appears likely: sales are expected to continue growing, but at a slower rate than over the past 10 years, with an estimated ceiling of about $800 billion per year.
- Massive Open Online Courses: the future is bright. Student registrations in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will be double compared to 2012 to more than 10 million courses, but the low completion rates mean that less than 0.2% of all courses completed in 2014 will be MOOCs. The growing awareness of online education will force educational institutions to increase investment in this area, drive more acceptance of online education as it becomes accredited and increase adoption by corporate training groups.
- eVisits: The 21st century housecall. There will be 100 million “eVisits” globally, potentially saving more than $5 billion when compared to the cost of in-person doctor visits and representing growth of 400 percent from 2012 levels.
- Television measurement: For better and worse. Measurement of the viewing of domestic television programs is increasingly reflecting the growth of online viewing thanks to the introduction of hybrid measurement, which enables the inclusion of viewing taking place on PCs, tablets and smartphones into overall viewing numbers, and also includes other data sets, such as set-top box channel selections and video-on-demand server logs.
- “Phablets” are not a Phad, but they may be peaking. Shipments of phablets, smartphones with 5.0-inch to 6.9-inch screens, will represent a quarter of smartphones sold, or 300 million units. That is double the 2013 volume, and 10 times 2012 sales. But after initial rapid consumer success, 2014 may mark a ‘peak phablet’ year, as only a (sizeable) minority of smartphones users will want to handle such a large device.
- The smartphone generation gap closing. Those over 55 years of age will be the age group experiencing the fastest year-on-year rises in smartphone penetration across developed markets. Ownership should rise between 45% to 50% by year-end, lower than the approximately 70% penetration rate for 18-to-54-year olds, but a 25% increase from 2013.
- Rugged devices at $250: Reinventing the business case for mobile field force. The entry price for a ruggedized, connected data device that can be used by some field force workers, as well as to undertake tasks such as car rental check-in inspections, inspecting highways or delivering packages, will fall to $250.
Deloitte’s technology, media and telecommunications practice serves more than 1,400 clients in the United States, including market category leaders across all sector segments. Deloitte practitioners, many with direct industry experience, deliver a breadth of services including professional audit, consulting, enterprise risk management, financial advisory and tax. The practice is also home to the Deloitte Center for the Edge, which conducts original research and develops substantive points of view for new corporate growth. The Silicon Valley-based Center helps senior executives make sense of and profit from emerging opportunities on the edge of business and technology.
Back in September, Samsung released the Galaxy Gear, a smart watch designed to be used in conjunction with Samsung devices such as the Galaxy Note tablet. Sales were tepid (or something worse than tepid, depending on who you asked), the North American advertising campaign waswidely panned, and critical enthusiasm was muted, to say the least.
Writing at The Verge, Vlad Savov, in a typical review,described the Galaxy Gear as a “rough first draft” of what could be a great product.
But Samsung is apparently ready to take another whack at the device. In an interview this week with Bloomberg, Lee Young Hee, the executive vice president of mobile at Samsung, said a new Galaxy Gear would be debuted this year alongside the forthcoming Galaxy S5 smart phone.
“We’ve been announcing our first flagship model in the first half of each year, around March and April, and we are still targeting for release around that time,” Ms. Leetold Bloomberg. “When we release our S5 device, you can also expect a Gear successor with more advanced functions, and the bulky design will also be improved.”
That’s about all Samsung is discussing right now: A rough release date, and a promise of more features and a slimmer design. No word yet on price, or more crucially, whether the Galaxy Gear sequel – the Galaxy Gear 2? – will be capable of operating independently of other Samsung devices. Because it’s hard to imagine a smart watch really gobbling up sizable market share if it has to be used in conjunction with a relatively small number of compatible devices.
In related news, back in November, Sony filed a US patent for a vibrating, antenna-heavy “Smart Wig” that would facilitate – and we quote – “wig-to-wig communication.” It’s not clear whether the Smart Wig is yet in active development.