Saturday, 16 June 2012


iPhone 5 is coming:

A report by Appleinsider’s Neil Hughes says Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White is in Taipei this week attending the 2012 Computex Show and meeting with local contacts in the component supply chain, from whom he says he’s hearing that September is shaping up to be an “exciting” month for Apple fans.
Forbes CIO Network’s Eric Savitz also cites a research note White posted to investors yesterday, based on what he’s learned in Taipei, in which he says that Apple is likely to launch the iPhone 5 in September, rather than following suit with the iPhone 4S October release last year. Aside from die-hard WWDC optimists, a punditry consensus has been leaning more toward October, although I’ve been inclined to posit either September or October as most likely.

Incidentally, a new report yesterday from 9To5Mac’s Mark Gurman says Apple will make several major software announcements at the WWDC, including iOS 6, an iCloud version update, and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, and possibly a raft of Mac announcements and upgrades as well in addition to the widely anticipated redesigned Retina display 15-inch MacBook Pro, including MacBook Air, iMac, and Mac mini or even Mac Pro refreshes, but there’s nary a word from his sources on a new iPhone or iPad mini announcement in the offing for next week.
In favor of a new iPhone October release is the aforementioned iPhone 4S launch precedent, and the tidiness of letting a year elapse between version releases. On the other hand, October will also mark the first anniversary of Steve Jobs’s death, and while reportedly Jobs had a lot of input on the sixth-generation iPhone redesign, it’s become evident that many people would perceive commemorating him with a commercial product launch as tacky or worse.
Consequently, September sounds quite plausible for the iPhone 5 (more likely “New iPhone”, IMHO) release both for that reason, as well as the fact that it’s been a traditional time slot for annual iPod refreshes. With the iPod now a mature product and the preponderance of innovative development focused on the iPhone and iPad, it’s highly conceivable that Apple might choose to rededicate the primo annual September new product release window to a hotter-selling product. The cusp of late summer/early fall combines back-to-school and settling into a new business year seasons, with an early kickoff to the holiday gift-buying ramp-up.
Incidentally, Eric Saviitz also reports that Brian White is skeptical of rumors that the iPhone 5 might have a Liquidmetal amorphous metal alloy back (technology for which Apple purchased exclusive rights to in consumer electronic products back in 2010 as reported by Michael Nace here today), and expects the new handset to have a unibody aluminum case manufactured by major Apple subcontractor Hon Hai.


Galaxy S3 : 

Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Samsung Galaxy S3, is about to launch in the US. I'm excited! But I'm also confused. Is this my dream phone, one that I can use with both AT&T and Verizon? Getting a straight answer has proven tough.
In the past, swapping a phone between the two major networks had been hard because they use different technologies for their 2G and 3G networks. Verizon uses CDMA (as does Sprint), while AT&T uses GSM (as does T-Mobile).
But in the full 4G world, both are using LTE, right? Sure, but they're broadcasting those signals on different parts of the radio spectrum, as CNET writer Maggie Reardon explained recently. That would seem to rule out the idea that a Verizon phone could work with AT&T.
But hold the, uh, phone. Verizon was cited by PhoneScoop as saying that a future software upgrade would allow the phone to be used globally, on the 2G and 3G networks of carriers outside the US. That means somewhere inside the Verizon phone is a GSM radio. In turn, potentially that means your phone could be used on AT&T.
Of course, even if you could do this, you'd be locked to AT&T's slower 2G and 3G speeds. AT&T "slow" 4G service and its "fast" 4G LTE service wouldn't work, because the phone doesn't have the right radio for them. Or does it?
It's possible that all versions of the phone sold in the U.S. have radio equipment for CDMA, GSM, GSM's 3G/4G HSPA+ variant and 4G LTE. If that's the case, a Verizon phone could use AT&T's fast LTE system and vice versa, assuming the phone was unlocked and none of its transmission capabilities were somehow crippled.
Who would know? Samsung should, so I asked. Initially, I was told that the Samsung Galaxy S3 was "the same on each carrier except for the network and carrier specific services pre-loaded on the device." That sounded pretty positive. The phones all seemed to have the same basic guts inside. Samsung also said that within the U.S., no one is selling an unlocked version. You have to buy from a carrier.
I looked for tech specs at the Samsung Galaxy S3 site, but they were nowhere to be found. There are various ones online, but they don't seem to cover U.S. versions of the phone. Samsung told me specs would be posted soon.
Without them, I wanted to double-check that the phones sold by each carrier should be exactly the same hardware (given there are different versions with different internal storage options, that's already a reason doubt this). Samsung told me, "A specific carrier version of a device will not necessarily work on another carrier. You will have to check with each carrier to confirm how the service works."
That sent me off to the carriers, and here I wait. Still no word back from Verizon or AT&T on whether:
  • If you pay full-price, will the phone be unlocked for use with other carriers?
  • Will the phone work on an LTE network other than their own?
  • With Verizon, what it will take for customers to unlock their phones for use outside the U.S.? Will it work similarly to the way you unlock an iPhone 4S?
If I hear back (I'm still fairly positive I will), I'll update this column. I suspect that the phones won't work on each other's LTE networks, that they don't have the necessary radio equipment for this. I do think a Verizon phone, if enabled for global roaming, could work with AT&T's 2G & 3G networks, if you wanted and if they don't somehow block US GSM carriers.
I still want that dream phone that could fully work with either of them.
OK, most people who buy new phones seem to do it under contract, so that by the time they may want to change carriers, they may also want to just get a new phone. It might not be worth the extra expense (and power hit and space issues) to have radio equipment that's not needed.
But phones also get handed down or sold on. It seems a shame they can't go between networks more easily. Verizon's iPhone 4S, for example, has a GSM radio that allows you to use it abroad if unlocked as Verizon allows. But as this Forbes article details, it also appears to be deliberately crippled from preventing consumers from taking it to AT&T or T-Mobile within the U.S.
If people could more easily switch, whether iPhone users or Android users, it might also cause the networks to feel greater competitive pressure, which would be a good thing for consumers.

Friday, 15 June 2012


Tongue Drive System to operate Computers:

 Scientists developed a new revolutionary system to help individuals with disabilities to control wheelchairs, computers and other devices simply by using their tongue.
Engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology say that a new technology called Tongue Drive system will be helpful to individuals with serious disabilities, such as those with severe spinal cord injuries and will allow them to lead more active and independent lives.
Individuals using a tongue-based system should only be able to move their tongue, which is especially important if a person has paralyzed limbs. A tiny magnet, only a size of a grain of rice, is attached to an individual's tongue using implantation, piercing or adhesive. This technology allows a disabled person to use tongue when moving a computer mouse or a powered wheelchair.
Scientists chose the tongue to control the system because unlike the feet and the hands, which are connected by brain through spinal cord, the tongue and the brain has a direct connection through cranial nerve. In case when a person has a severe spinal cord injure or other damage, the tongue will remain mobile to activate the system. "Tongue movements are also fast, accurate and do not require much thinking, concentration or effort." said Maysam Ghovanloo, an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The motions of the magnet attached to the tongue are spotted by a number of magnetic field sensors installed on a headset worn outside or an orthodontic brace inside the mouth. The signals coming from the sensors are wirelessly sent to a portable computer that placed on a wheelchair or attached to an individual's clothing.

The Tongue system is developed to recognize a wide array of tongue movements and to apply specific movements to certain commands, taking into account user's oral anatomy, abilities and lifestyle."The ability to train our system with as many commands as an individual can comfortably remember is a significant advantage over the common sip-n-puff device that acts as a simple switch controlled by sucking or blowing through a straw," said Ghovanloo.

The Tongue Drive system is touch-free, wireless and non-invasive technology that needs no surgery for its operation.
During the trials of the system, six able-bodied participants were trained to use tongue commands to control the computer mouse. The individuals repeated several motions left, right, up and down, single- and double-click to perform computer mouse tasks.

The results of the trials showed 100 percent of commands were accurate with the response time less than one second, which equals to an information transfer rate of approximately 150 bits per minute.
Scientists also plan to test the ability of the system to operate by people with severe disabilities. The next step of the research is to develop software to connect the Tongue Drive system to great number of devices such as text generators, speech synthesizers and readers. Also the researchers plan to upgrade the system by introducing the standby mode to allow the individual to eat, sleep or talk, while prolonging the battery life.
Source: National Science Foundation