Monday, March 3, 2014

Mobile World Congress Wrap Up on Accessories

              The Mobile World Congress introduced quite a few new gadgets. Here is a look at a few of my favorite ones. 
                Firstly we have the Sound OG900 headphones from Samsung. They will set you back a whooping $275, but for quality sound presented fashionably I am not too surprised. These trendsetters will also match the new Galaxy Note 3. 

This next gadget is the Monster SuperStar Bluetooth speaker. Who knew such loud noises could come from such a small device? Music accessories are continuing to become smaller and smaller. Currently I still rock the now considered old fashioned iPod dock. Soon I will make the switch to the Bluetooth devices. 
As a runner this next gadget made me happy. Living in Texas I tend to wait until the sun goes down before I take off on my nightly run. I do not wear any safety wear, so this new ipod case would sure come in handy. This iPod arm band has flashing 
lights to make a runner more visible. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How To Change the Game

After reexamining all of the major announcements from Mobile World Conference 2014, it is clear that their were no major game changing innovations that will make immediate impact to the gamer community. As far a home consoles like Microsoft's X-Box, Nintendo's Wii, or Sony's Playstation, their were no new releases, as they usually tend to market their product more near the holiday season. Thus, at MWC, mobile gaming seemed to be the only gamer avenue being explored.

If you look back at my previous blog, I highlighted this area by profiling the MADCATZ CTRLRi and the impact it will have on mobile devices. It'll add authentic gameplay and attract even the most loyal of console gamers to mobile devices. It will also promote action games on the mobile platform. What keeps this from having an immediate major impact though is how a device that is too large for a pocket will work being marketed towards a male demographic. If you just stop with that question, it would appear that this innovation will have a short shelf life. However, this is the beauty of the technology. No one version or first draft of anything is going to be it's last.

So, lets look at the positives of the product and just how it could affect any of it's hand-held competitors. For example, where Nintendo's GameBoy once held a monopoly on the mobile gaming market, the bigger named home gaming console companies like Sony bombarded the market with their PSP device's better graphics, gameplay and computer like features. This high end product, while at first big, got sleeker and more convenient to carry, making it the new top dog, making Nintendo's next generation hand-helds, GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS obsolete. And with the same kind of marketing and improvements to the new console like controllers for smart phones, Will Goodboy of Business Blog says they could do the exact same thing to PSP.

If this does happen, Goodboy says the death of personal gaming could be nigh.
The SAMSUNG S CONSOLE is one of multiple
new console type controllers made for smart phones

Airtag Offers Expedited Food Service Solution to Attendees at MWC

The frustration of waiting in long lines to get lunch or a table at a restaurant could be mitigated by one NFC app introduced at the Mobile World Congress this week.

Visitors at MWC got to trial the app designed by France-based supplier, Airtag, which synced with MWC's existing mobile app to reduce wait times at food venues in Fira de Barcelona and make ordering and picking up food more efficient.

According to NFC World, visitors got to choose the genre of food they wanted, and then selected specific food choices within that through the app. Using PayPal, attendees were able to pay for their food instantly, which decreased the time it took to pick up their food orders. Once their food was ready, the app notified them. When arriving to the food venue, the individual could check in via NFC or QR code and then an employee would give them their order.

This technology will be especially useful in determining wait times at restaurants and will allow people to order and pick up food in less time and without the unnecessary waiting around for your food to be ready.

This expedited food service capability is set to go live at the end of February.

So now we're secure. Oh, really?

Mobile World Congress closed on Thursday the way it began: with talk of identity security filling whatever void was left from the buzz surrounding Google, Samsung and the appearance of Mark Zuckerberg.

SPG Technologies grabbed early headlines as it unveiled its Blackphone, a mobile phone that the company says places user security as a priority. For the price of $629 -- plus shipping. And the phone generated early praise. Cheerleading tweets such as this from Symantec were typical.

Skeptics, though, already are pushing back against what the companies peddled to the public this week. In an interesting piece in Quartz, Leo Mirani cites posts by MattWeinberger in CITEWorld and Sebastian Anthony in ITProPortal that dispel the Blackphone – or really, any mobile phone so far – as being completely secure. Further, Mirani shows a contradiction between statements from Phil Zimmerman, one of Blackphone’s creators, to statements on the website of SPG Technologies, the company that has created the device.

Such quick rebuttals counter the work companies spent this week pushing phones and software that they say will ensure the security of the data in our mobile phones. Mobile phone companies rolled out new products featuring optical, fingerprint or audio security features.

Hong Kong-based FingerQ helped kick off the week by leading a discussion on its use of biometrics technology to ensure phone users’ safe transmission of texts, mobile payments and other activities. Biometrics, simply put, is the practice of studying how we identify others, either through behavior or some tangible piece of evidence, like a fingerprint or eye movement.

These are early days in the identity security business. Phones may never be able to provide absolute security. In the meantime, consumers will have to ask themselves if spending more than $600 is a cost worth paying for a false sense of security.

Selfie app wins "most innovative app"

Oxford named it the word of the year. Beyoncé does them. So does Hillary Clinton. They've been done in the both the most perilous and mundane situations. Yes, we're talking about everyone's favorite, long-armed pastime: the selfie. 2013 was a great year for the narcissistic shots, and judging by the Global Mobile Awards' "most innovative app," we can prepare for a 2014 full of Instagram self-portraits, now made easier.

The Mobile World Congress awarded CamMe, powered by PointGrab, the prestigious award on Tuesday. CamMe uses gesture controls to take pictures from up to 16 feet away, so done are the days of pretend-yawn stretches to send Snap Chats to your friends. Users signal the camera to start a three second delay by raising a hand, still giving you the perfect amount of time to assume prime photo position, with no errant, extended arms in sight. The app also allows for picture stitching and photo borders.

Does this mean that the fine folks at MWC's priorities are really aligned with a largely millennial celebration of the self? I bet not. PointGrab seems to be the idea that piqued the MWC's interest is the gesture-based technology. They explain the app on the awards page:

"CamMe is a gesture based camera app that changes the way people take pictures, allowing you to take pictures from distance without touching the device. Just raise your hand, close it to activate the camera, CamMe will count 3, 2, 1 and you can pose and smile, a great new selfie will be taken. CamMe is powered by PointGrab, a leader in gesture recognition software solutions offering a natural way of interacting with devices. Over 20 million CE devices are already enabled with hand gesture control powered by PointGrab on world’s top brands including Samsung, TCL, Skyworth, Lenovo, Acer, Fujitsu."

PointGrab has also produced gesture-controlled technology in televisions, tablets and computers. The app is currently free across mobile platforms.

People giving CamMe a try:

Samsung Breaks Into Health Care

Within a week, Samsung took not just a dip, but a dive into the healthcare pool.

The South Korean technology powerhouse announced a partnership on Friday with the University of California, San Francisco, to focus preventative health more on digital.

Photo via Flickr/opopododo
"Harnessing new preventative health technologies to help people live healthier lives is the next great opportunity of our generation," said Samsung president and CSO Young Sohn in a Reuters article.

Samsung's Digital Health Innovation Lab, which will be housed on UCSF's campus, aims to ignite and test new ideas, formulas, sensors and other technologies that will take health care into relatively uncharted mobile waters.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Sohn delivered a keynote about Samsung's vision for digital health. For the first time, the event had a lineup of speakers and sessions on Health & Wellness, which was sponsored by ECHAlliance.

"The Mobile Health sector presents a huge opportunity to deliver more efficient care, empower patients, and achieve significant savings in care services and the treatment and management of chronic diseases," said ECHAlliance chair Brian O'Connor in a press release. "Mobile Health applications were used by more than 75 million people in the U.S. in 2013 and the global Mobile Health market is poised to reach $20 billion by 2018. However, it also presents some barriers and challenges that should be tackled by all stakeholders."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The future of touchscreens

Image from: Mail Online
A breakthrough prototype tablet was displayed at the Fujistu booth at this years Mobile World Congress that redefines the touch screen. The new technology allows users to "feel" what they are touching on the screen. The prototype allows users to stroke an alligator and feel its skin or pluck the strings of a harp.

"It's one of those things that has to be touched to be believed," according to a reporter from a video posted by BBC News on Monday about the tablet.

The tablet uses ultrasonic vibrations to, in essence, trick the user into thinking they are feeling what is on the screen. Although other technology has attempted to recreate this concept, Fujistu says that this is the first ultrasound technology in the world to run on a smaller device like a tablet.

According to Hexus, the technology works like this: Ultrasonic vibrations create a high-pressure layer of air between the screen and your fingertip, which helps reduce the friction and creates what they call a floating effect. High and low friction are then combined and organized to create different sensations for different images.

Image from: Hexus
The predecessor to this technology, haptic tech, was released in 2012 and according to Engadget it never really caught on. But, so far Fujistu's tablet seems to be getting a lot of attention and generating plenty of interest because right now, it is unlike anything else on the market.

So, what exactly does this type of technology mean for the future of tablets? Well, Fujistu hopes to release the product commercially in 2015 according to Mail Online. Which, could up the ante for other companies in the tablet industry.
Image from: Re/code

This type of technology has the capability to change the way people interact with media not only while playing games, but while giving presentations and selling products as well. It seems to be that in the very near future not only will consumers be able to see their media in crystal clear HD, they will also be able to virtually touch it too.