A Stanford engineering team has built a radio, equipped with sensors, computational units and antennas one-tenth the size of Wi-Fi antennas, that is able to gain all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna. No batteries are required.
These radios, which are designed to compute, execute and relay commands, could be the key to linking gadgets together in the increasingly popular idea of the Internet of Things.
Today’s radios generally are the size of a quarter, according to Amin Arbabian, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and a researcher on the radio project. These new radios are much smaller. They’re 3.7 x 1.2 millimeters.
Radios that small could be added to everything from $100 bills to medical gauze, Band-Aids and home appliances. At just pennies per radio, that means a myriad of products could easily and cheaply become part of a linked network.
“This could be very important,” Arbabian told Computerworld. “When you think about the Internet of Things, you’re talking about needing a thousand radios per person. That counts all the radios and devices you’d need around you in your home and office environments. With 300 million people in the U.S., we’d have 300 billion radios.”
A Bluetooth-type radio works fine for smartphones but is too big and expensive to connect most of the objects in users’ lives.
“We needed the cost and size to go down, and you need scale,” said Arbabian, who began working on the project in 2011. “Do you want to put something the size of a Bluetooth radio on a Band-Aid? It’s too big. It costs a lot. The technology we have today for radios doesn’t meet any of these requirements.”
He explained that a tiny radio with a temperature sensor could be put on a bandage or piece of adhesive that’s applied to every patient that enters a hospital. The radio and its sensor would enable the medical staff to continuously track every patient’s temperature, a key health indicator, effortlessly and cheaply.
Sensors also could be used to measure air quality, to track medications from the manufacturer to the end user and to even keep track of tools and supplies in an operating room. For instance, Arbabian noted that a radio, encased in bio-safe material, could be attached to gauze or medical tools. With them, everything in an operating room could be tracked to ensure that nothing is left inside the patient at the end of surgery.
The radios also could be attached to every day products inside the home, including appliances, doors and windows.
The Supreme Court’s June ruling on the patentability of software raised as many questions as it answered. One specific software patent went down in flames in the case of Alice v. CLS Bank, but the abstract reasoning of the decision didn’t provide much clarity on which other patents might be in danger.
Now the lower courts appear to be bringing the ruling’s practical consequences into focus and it looks like software patents are getting a kicking. There have been 11 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court’s decision and each of them has led to the patent being invalidated.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Patent Office handed out a growing number of what might be called “do it on a computer” patents. These patents take some activity that people have been doing for centuries — say, holding funds in escrow until a transaction is complete — and claim the concept of performing that task with a computer or over the internet. The patents are typically vague about how to perform the task in question.
The Supreme Court invalidated a patent which claimed that it’s owners invented the concept of using a computer to hold funds in escrow to reduce the risk that one party would fail to deliver on an agreement. The Supreme Court ruled that the use of a computer did not turn this centuries-old concept into a new invention.
This has lead to lots of other patents being declared llegal. On July 6, a Delaware trial court rejected a Comcast patent that claimed the concept of a computerized telecommunications system checking with a user before deciding whether to establish a new connection. The court said that the patent could easily be performed by human beings making telephone calls.
Basically this means that you can’t take a normal human activity, do it with a computer and call it an patentable invention.
It would kill off the famous one click patent if that were ever challenged.
Google Inc rolled out in India on Monday the first smartphones under its Android One project, pricing them at around 6,399 rupees ($105) to capture the low-cost segment of the world’s fastest growing smartphone market.
The Mountain View-Based company tied up with Indian mobile players Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles to launch the affordable phones, which are powered by its operating system and aimed at emerging markets.
After launching in India, Google said it plans to expand Android One to Indonesia, Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014 and in more countries in 2015.
Google outlined the pricing and expansion details in a marketing document seen by Reuters. The company is due to host an official media event later on Monday.
India is seen as a lucrative market for low-cost smartphones because many people are buying the devices for the first time. Just 10 percent of the India’s population currently owns a smartphone, brokerage Nomura said in a recent research note, and that figure is likely to double over the next four years.
Google, however, is not the only company jostling for a share of the Indian market.
There are at least 80 smartphone brands in India and analysts say the Android One phones must offer customers more than just affordability if it wants to compete with similarly priced devices made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Motorola and China’s Xiaomi.
“The initial pricing never sticks but it’ll be tough for them to compete if they don’t come down further,” said Neil Shah, research director for devices and ecosystems at Hong Kong-based technology research agency Counterpoint Research.
In June, Google had announced the launch of the Android One project, which aims to boost demand for low-end Android smartphones by vastly improving their quality.
The open letter is signed by Quickflix CEO Stephen Langsford and addressed to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and the internet community. Langsford asks Netflix to Australia through the front door. He accuses it of ignoring backdoor access to its services, hauling in cash and stepping on Australian rightsholders.
“Netflix not only knowingly collects revenues from subscribers with unauthorised access to your US service, investing nothing in the Australian market nor paying for Australian rights to the content you make available, but also tacitly encourages Australian consumers to inadvertently breach the copyright of the content owners,” he said.
“Unlike yourself, Quickflix has obtained all necessary Australian rights to the content on its platform, faithfully meets all necessary security requirements, including geo-filtering imposed by the content rights holders, and continues to reinvest in its service with the goal of offering the very best service in the market to its customers.”
We have asked Netflix to comment on this, but so far it has not responded.
Langsford made some suggestions to Hastings about getting Netflix’s game in order, starting with a legal launch and a VPN lockdown.
“We challenge Netflix to play by the rules. It’s how we do it here in Australia. Stop turning a blind eye to the VPN services acting as a gateway to your service. Be honest and face up to the issue of unauthorised access to your US service,” he said in his sign off.
“Have the courage to limit your service only to the territories where you have legally obtained the rights to operate by abiding by the geo-filtering obligations required by your content license agreements. And do so immediately.”
The Quickflix CEO said that he looked forward to fair and square competition and the resulting benefits to Australians.
Hewlett-Packard Co is taking a look at putting its web-based photo sharing service Snapfish on the block, and has held discussions with multiple private equity and industry buyers, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
Snapfish, which HP bought for more than $300 million in 2005 and currently sits within its printing and personal systems group, is considered non-core for the company, the person said, asking not to be named because the matter is not public.
A spokesman for HP declined to comment.
Last year, HP replaced the printing and personal business’ long-time head Todd Bradley with former Lenovo executive Dion Weisler. Bradley has since left the technology company, to join Tibco Software Inc as its president.
Some of the parties that have been eyeing Snapfish have also expressed interest in buying another online photo-sharing services provider, Shutterfly Inc, the person said.
Shutterfly hired Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst Partners over the summer to find a buyer, and is expected wrap up its process in the next several weeks, people familiar with the matter have said previously.
Customers may have to wait three to four weeks to get their hands on Apple Inc’s iPhone 6 Plus, after a record number of orders for the company’s latest smartphones put a huge dent in the available supply.
The new iPhone 6 goes on sale on Sept. 19 in the United States but the company began taking online orders on Thursday. While the larger 5.5-inch “Plus” models now display a wait time of up to a month, the 4.7-inch version remains available for delivery on Sept. 19, Apple’s website showed.
Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint Corp, also showed shipment delays of up to six weeks on their respective websites. Apple said the pace of orders has so far outstripped any of its previous iPhones.
“Response to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has been incredible, with a record number of pre-orders overnight. Pre-orders are currently available online or through the Apple Store App,” spokeswoman Trudy Muller said.
Apple routinely grapples with iPhone supply constraints, particularly in years that involve a smartphone re-design. The latest iPhones come with larger screens and some analysts had anticipated that production issues may keep a lid on initial runs.
Its suppliers had scrambled to get enough screens ready because the need to redesign a key component had disrupted panel production, supply chain sources told Reuters last month.
It was unclear whether the hiccup could limit the number of phones available to consumers, the sources said at the time. Apple declined to comment on supply chain issues.
In addition, Chinese customers may also have to wait until the year-end before they can buy the iPhone 6. Apple is yet to set a release date for China, the world’s biggest smartphone market.
The company unveiled its latest iPhones along with a watch and a mobile payments service last Tuesday.
The new offering, called Wi-Fi Un-leashed, is open to all subscribers to the carrier’s Simple Choice plans. It could vastly expand the places those customers can exchange calls and text messages.
In addition to domestic use, it will allow calls into the U.S. from any Wi-Fi network outside the country, using the subscriber’s regular T-Mobile number and no additional apps. Starting Sept. 17, Wi-Fi Un-leashed also extends to flights on U.S. airlines — minus the voice calls — with unlimited text, picture messaging and visual voicemail through a partnership with in-flight Wi-Fi provider Gogo.
Wi-Fi plays a growing role in mobile operator networks, bringing in extra capacity without sapping their expensive licensed spectrum, because Wi-Fi runs over unlicensed bands. Hotspots have been a key part of T-Mobile’s infrastructure for years, but the services unveiled on Wednesday go further than any major U.S. carrier to date. It’s the latest strategy by the nation’s fourth-largest carrier to grab market share from its larger rivals through unconventional plans.
The Wi-Fi calling feature lets users make high-definition calls over wireless LANs and keep those calls going as they switch over to T-Mobile’s LTE and 3G networks, CTO Neville Ray wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. T-Mobile introduced HD calling across its LTE network earlier this year using VoLTE (voice-over-LTE) technology.
Wi-Fi voice and text essentially extends T-Mobile’s coverage and network capacity without additional network deployments, and the company wants to help its subscribers make that possible. On Wednesday it introduced the T-Mobile Personal CellSpot, an access point that users can plug in anywhere they have a broadband connection, T-Mobile said. The Personal CellSpot will prioritize T-Mobile voice calls over other traffic going over the broadband link, Ray said. Starting Sept. 17, any Simple Choice subscriber with a Wi-Fi voice handset can get a Personal CellSpot free with a $25 deposit.
The company said it was also exploring other options, including a sale or an investment, and liquidation as the last resort.
RadioShack, whose sales have been in free-fall since 2010 as it struggles to compete with internet retailers, said in a regulatory filing it was working with its lenders and landlords to restructure its debt and cut costs.
“It would surprise me if we got to Nov. 1 without a bankruptcy,” Wedbush Securities Inc analyst Michael Pachter told Reuters.
RadioShack shares, which are in danger of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange, were up 2 percent at 95 cents in volatile early trading.
The company said same-store sales declined 20 percent in the latest quarter, while total sales plunged to their lowest in more than 20 years.
The company is being advised by a restructuring attorney at law firm Jones Day as it tries to strike a deal with creditors to close stores, two people close to the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
RadioShack tried to close 1,100 stores this year, but reduced that number to 200 a year when lenders did not agree to the plans.
RadioShack’s landlords, however, may be open to mass store closures if they believe it will allow them to find new tenants more quickly than in a bankruptcy, a source close to the matter told Reuters.
David Tawil, president of hedge fund Maglan Capital that focuses on companies approaching bankruptcy, said he saw “major execution risks” to RadioShack’s recapitalization and turnaround efforts.
“I don’t think that the chances are great that RadioShack survives,” Tawil said, adding that the company’s credit default swaps were trading higher, pointing to market expectations of a near-term debt default.
The company ended the second quarter with $30.5 million in cash and $658.0 million in debt, which matures between 2018 and 2019.
Intel demoed its “no wires future” of wireless gigabit docking at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in California.
Intel wireless gigabit docking is a fully cable-free experience that includes wireless docking, wireless display and wireless charging. Intel demonstrated a reference design based on a next generation 14nm Intel processor on stage during its opening keynote on Tuesday.
Intel hopes to implement this technology by the end of 2015.
“Not only your wireless display, but storage, keyboard and mouse – all the other peripherals you have that have been weighing down our backpacks or strewn across our desk, we’re eliminating with one technology, and that’s wireless gigabit,” said an Intel expert on stage.
“It’s not only a secure and also localised connection – so you can use it in high dense areas such as in an office – but also extremely fast performing at over three times the performance of today’s WiFi.
“But while that’s cool we still have one more cord in our bag and let’s get rid of it: ditch that brick. That last thing that’s weighing us down is [resolved by] wireless power; the ease of use and installation it has is really going to be an advantage using the wireless resonance technology.”
The technology works over a simple receiver that goes into client devices, along with a resonance board that acts as a dock, which creates its own wireless hotspot.
Intel demonstrated how the standard will work using a laptop that automatically powered up and charged as soon as it reached the surface of the table due to the magnetic charging field built into the desk surface.
Intel said that this technology could also charge wireless Bluetooth earpieces, wearable devices, tablets and notebooks. However, it doesn’t have to be built into devices to work, as Intel said it can also be retrofitted into the cases of the devices we are carrying around.
Intel’s wireless gigabit technology is another push towards the firm’s vision of a cable-free future, meaning there’ll be no annoying wires or leads connecting computers to monitors, laptops to plug sockets or tablets to projectors.
The semiconductor giant first announced this view in August, saying that it’s looking to change the enterprise IT market with a strategy that will offer “three major experiences” in the office, that is, wireless display connectivity, wireless docking and wireless charging.
Approximately 14 million ultra-high definition (UHD) 4K2K television sets have been shipped worldwide in 2014, penetrating 6-7% of the overall TV market, according to WitsView, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based market intelligence firm TrendForce.
Chinese vendors, including Skyworth, Changhong and Hisense, have the highest shipment rates. The six largest Chinese brands, which also include Konka, TCL and Haier, will achieve a 13-15% penetration rate in the UHD TV market this year, the firm projects.
The spec of 4K2K TV means 3,840 X 2,160 pixel resolution compared with HD TV, which has a resolution of 1,920 X 1,080. UHD TV has four times the resolution of HDTV.
“China’s six major 4K2K TV brands price their products very competitively,” Anita Wang, a research manager at WitsView, said in a statement. “Other vendors can’t offer such an attractive price proposition.”
Last month, the retail price difference in China between 65-in 4K2K 3D and HD 3D TVs was 32%, but in other markets it was as high as 63%, Wang said. As a result, Chinese consumers are more willing to purchase 4K2K televisions, Wang added.
One of the biggest issues facing the UHD TV market is a lack of “available” content. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of 4K movies and TV shows ready to be streamed to the public. Since 2004, the movie and television industry has been producing 4K content for the digital market.
“Broadcasters will always use the best equipment they can, because they want to be able to archive and repurpose that content in the future. But that’s a long ways from saying they have 4K content in the production chain,” said Paul Gray, director of TV Electronics Research at DisplaySearch.
Buying a 4K UHD TV today requires a leap of faith in two ways: You need to believe broadcasters will begin streaming 4K content soon and feel confident that the content will conform to a standard a new UHD TV can decode and process.
“Neither of those things are clear because there are no standards for 4K video,” Gray said.
LCD computer monitors are also starting to become available in UHD and feature attractive price tags, she said. For example, the 28-in 4K2K monitor retailed at an average of just $630 in August. In the coming months, panel makers will continue to introduce new 4K2K monitors in different sizes.
For example, Samsung is expected to launch a 23.6-in model that will be priced lower than the existing 23.8-in model. That will help to further drive down retail prices and stimulate 4K2K monitor demand.
Meanwhile, Apple is expected to release the 27-in 5K3K high-resolution iMac by the end of the fourth quarter of 2014.
Twitter is trying out a new way for its users to purchase digital music and other products through the social networking application, with the goal of making mobile shopping easier, the company said in a blog post.
A “small percentage” of U.S. Twitter users will soon begin to see tweets that will include a “buy” button from some of the company’s partners, group product manager Tarun Jain wrote in the blog post published Monday. The percentage of Twitter users seeing the marketing tweets will grow over time, Jain wrote.
“This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile phones convenient and easy, hopefully even fun,” Jain wrote.
Twitter’s partners in the e-commerce effort include digital marketing companies Musictoday, Gumroad, Fancy and Stripe, Jain said.
The e-commerce test will include products from several musicians, including Brad Paisley, Eminem, Keith Urban, Megadeth, Pharrell Williams and Soundgarden. Other organizations featured will including Burberry, the Home Depot, the Nature Conservancy and DonorsChoose.
The Fire Phone, which originally sold for $649 minus a contract commitment and for $199 with a two-year deal with AT&T, was marked down to $449 without a contract and 99 cents with one.
Amazon spun the dramatic price cut in the best possible light. “Fire is another example of the value Amazon delivers to customers,” said Ian Freed, vice president of Amazon Devices, in a statement Monday.
In fact, by all accounts, the Fire has done poorly. According to data mining done a month ago by ad network Chitika, Fire Phone usage grew only “incrementally” in the device’s first two months. By Aug. 14, Amazon’s phone accounted for just 0.02% of all smartphone-based ad impressions.
Chitika’s number was not a measurement of the number of devices in use, but of the online activity of Fire Phone users: The calculation was best described as “usage share.”
StatCounter, another metrics vendor that also tracks usage share, did not even list Fire Phone in its operating system data for the month of August.
In June, when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the Fire Phone, most analysts slammed the pricing, saying that the online retailer needed to do more than simply mimic the competition.
“If the $199 on 2yr contract is all there is to Fire Phone pricing it will be a tough sell,” Carolina Milanesi, chief of research and head of U.S. business for Kantar WorldPanel Comtech, said on Twitter that day.
“Does the 99-cent price matter? Sure it does. But in the scheme of things, does it help? No, because you still have to have a contract,” Milanesi said in an interview today.
She pointed out that Apple, for example, gives away the iPhone 4S to customers who sign up for a two-year contract with a mobile carrier. The Fire Phone’s “unlocked” price of $449 is also identical to that of an off-contract iPhone 4S.
Amazon missed its chance to make a splash months ago, Milanesi argued. “This price then would have sent a different message,” she said. “It would have made a difference because at the time [mid-June] there was not a lot going on. But to do this the day before Apple announces its new iPhones, and right after Samsung showed off its Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge?”
Working with Fujitsu and NEC, the Japanese telecommunications giant verified the digital coherent optical transmission technology for distances of several thousand kilometers to 10,000 km. With it, a single wavelength of light can carry 400 Gbps, four times the capacity of previous systems. Each fiber can carry multiple wavelengths, and many fibers can be bundled into one cable.
The approach could more than double existing capacity to meet ever-increasing bandwidth demand, especially by heavy data users.
The technology could be used in the next generation of backbone links, which aggregate calls and data streams and send them over the high-capacity links that go across oceans and continents. The fiber in the network would stay the same, and only the equipment at either end would need to change.
While the current capacity on such links is up to 8Tbps (terabits per second) per fiber, the new technology would make a capacity of 24Tbps per fiber possible, according to NTT.
“As an example of the data size, 24 Tbps corresponds to sending information contained in 600 DVDs (4.7 GB per DVD) within a second,” an NTT spokesman wrote in an email. “The verification was done using algorithms which are ready to be implemented in CMOS circuits to show that these technologies are practically feasible.”
To compensate for distortions along the optical fiber, researchers from the consortium developed digital backward propagation signal processing with an optimized algorithm. The result of this and other research is that the amount of equipment required for transmissions over long distances can be reduced, meaning the network could consume less electricity.
“We are extremely excited to show this groundbreaking performance surpassing 100 Gbps coherent optical transmission systems,” Masahito Tomizawa, executive manager of consortium leader NTT Network Innovation Labs, wrote in an email. “This new technology maintains the stability and reliability of our current 100 Gbps solutions while at the same time dramatically improving performance.”
The consortium said it is taking steps toward commercialization of the technology on a global scale but would not say when that might happen.
In the same time frame, GM also will introduce more advanced technology allowing hands-free driving in some cases, she said.
“I’m convinced customers will embrace (vehicle-to-vehicle) and automated driving technologies for one simple reason: they are the answer to everyday problems that people want solved,” she said in a text of a speech delivered at a conference here.
Auto companies, academics and government agencies globally are working to develop cameras, sensors, radar and other technologies that allow vehicles and surrounding infrastructure like stoplights to alert each other about nearby driving conditions.
The industry is rolling out such features as adaptive cruise control, crash-imminent braking and semi-automated, hands-free driving like GM’s ‘Super Cruise’ feature to make roads safer.
However, GM and other automakers have emphasized that even with hands-free driving, drivers will be responsible and need to maintain attention on the road. Meanwhile, Internet search company Google Inc is working to develop fully autonomous vehicles.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has made developing connected car technologies a high priority, a view shared in Japan and Europe. And when cars can also talk to surrounding infrastructure, the gains will be exponential, Barra said.
However, she said commercializing a fully automated vehicle may take until the next decade.
Congestion causes urban Americans to travel 5.5 billion more hours and purchase an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel each year, she said, citing outside data.
In 2016, GM will sell a 2017 model Cadillac CTS sedan standardly equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle technology. However, the car can only communicate with similarly equipped vehicles and it will take time for the industry to introduce the technology broadly, GM officials said before Barra’s speech.
They added that U.S. regulators still need to finalize requirements for these technologies and cyber security protections need to be developed.
Also in 2016, GM will roll out Super Cruise as an option allowing hands-free highway driving at both highway and stop-and-go speeds, as well as lane following, speed control and braking in a new, unidentified 2017 Cadillac model in a segment where the company does not currently compete.
Western Digital has announced the latest addition to its My Passport series of portable external hard drives.
The My Passport Wireless, as the name suggests, is WD’s entry in the current crop of WiFi Direct attached storage devices.
Available in capacities of 500GB, 1TB and 2TB, the My Passport Wireless drive can sit directly on a WiFi network or act as a pass-through device, linking up to eight devices regardless of type and operating system.
One touch syncing with Dropbox, Onedrive and Google Drive allows users to keep local copies of files without clogging up their computer hard drives.
With an optimal battery life of eight hours and standby life of 20 hours on a single charge, My Passport Wireless is capable of streaming HD video to multiple screens, and connects with wireless cameras via FTP for simultaneous backup during photo sessions.
An external SD card slot is also included for devices that do not have a direct connection, or if you need a little extra boost in storage space.
WD’s My Cloud app, which also powers its My Cloud range of NAS devices, has been given a facelift to include access to the My Passport wireless. New features include an embedded music and video player, and remote configuration of drive settings.
The 500GB model will retail at $150.00, with the 1TB and 2TB editions priced at $200.00 and $250.00, respectively.
As part of the launch of the My Passport Wireless, WD also introduced two new limited edition wired My Passport devices to commemorate ten years of the range. The My Passport Ultra Metal Edition and My Passport Ultra Anniversary Editions were described by Scott Vouri, WD VP of Consumer Marketing as “a souvenir of ten years of a classic device”.