New Telebimy Technology

What new technology does is create new opportunities

Month: November 2017

New York Considers Mandating Back Doors Into Phones

With a bill reintroduced last week, a New York Assemblyman wants to make it easy for the government to get inside smartphones. It’s a proposal that would mandate smartphone manufacturers be able to unlock the phones they make. The bill comes from Assemblyman Matthew Titone, of Staten Island’s North Shore, and was first introduced last summer. It’s sat in the Consumer Affairs and Protection committee since, so it’s still a long way from becoming law. A cryptographic back door would be bad for cryptography, privacy, and consumers.

The “back door” metaphor isn’t too far from the truth, so let’s flesh it out for a minute. In a memo sent out in support of the bill this week, the bill’s author does that for us. He describes a phone that cannot be unlocked except by the owner like this:

It is as if the police get a search warrant for a safe deposit box at a bank because they have reason to believe that the safe deposit box has evidence of a crime – but they cannot open the box because the bank has thrown away its own key. Indeed, this situation is even worse because whereas a safe deposit box can, ultimately, be opened by force, a passcode-protected smartphone is virtually impregnable, unless the companies maintain the ability to open the phones that it manufactures.

Except, and I think this is the crucial point, if there’s a mandated back door, then it’s not a safe that the government can access, it’s a safe anyone can access. As security researcher Bruce Schneier wrote when Apple introduced its strong encryption:

You can’t build a backdoor that only the good guys can walk through. Encryption protects against cybercriminals, industrial competitors, the Chinese secret police and the FBI. You’re either vulnerable to eavesdropping by any of them, or you’re secure from eavesdropping from all of them.

Under the New York bill, companies that don’t provide or build in these back doors could face huge legal penalties. The Independent describes it:

The proposed law would also make phone manufacturers pay a fine of $2,500 (£1,736) for every phone they sell that cannot be unlocked.

This would result in fines reaching into the tens of millions for companies like Apple, whose devices are designed to have no back door, and are only unlockable by their owner.

Smart glasses offer users a keyboard to type text

K-Glass, smart glasses reinforced with augmented reality (AR) that were first developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in 2014, with the second version released in 2015, is back with an even stronger model. The latest version, which KAIST researchers are calling K-Glass 3, allows users to text a message or type in key words for Internet surfing by offering a virtual keyboard for text and even one for a piano.

Currently, most wearable head-mounted displays (HMDs) suffer from a lack of rich user interfaces, short battery lives, and heavy weight. Some HMDs, such as Google Glass, use a touch panel and voice commands as an interface, but they are considered merely an extension of smartphones and are not optimized for wearable smart glasses. Recently, gaze recognition was proposed for HMDs including K-Glass 2, but gaze is insufficient to realize a natural user interface (UI) and experience (UX), such as user’s gesture recognition, due to its limited interactivity and lengthy gaze-calibration time, which can be up to several minutes.

As a solution, Professor Hoi-Jun Yoo and his team from the Electrical Engineering Department recently developed K-Glass 3 with a low-power natural UI and UX processor to enable convenient typing and screen pointing on HMDs with just bare hands. This processor is composed of a pre-processing core to implement stereo vision, seven deep-learning cores to accelerate real-time scene recognition within 33 milliseconds, and one rendering engine for the display.

The stereo-vision camera, located on the front of K-Glass 3, works in a manner similar to three dimension (3D) sensing in human vision. The camera’s two lenses, displayed horizontally from one another just like depth perception produced by left and right eyes, take pictures of the same objects or scenes and combine these two different images to extract spatial depth information, which is necessary to reconstruct 3D environments. The camera’s vision algorithm has an energy efficiency of 20 milliwatts on average, allowing it to operate in the Glass more than 24 hours without interruption.

The research team adopted deep-learning-multi core technology dedicated for mobile devices to recognize user’s gestures based on the depth information. This technology has greatly improved the Glass’s recognition accuracy with images and speech, while shortening the time needed to process and analyze data. In addition, the Glass’s multi-core processor is advanced enough to become idle when it detects no motion from users. Instead, it executes complex deep-learning algorithms with a minimal power to achieve high performance.

Professor Yoo said, “We have succeeded in fabricating a low-power multi-core processer that consumes only 126.1 milliwatts of power with a high efficiency rate. It is essential to develop a smaller, lighter, and low-power processor if we want to incorporate the widespread use of smart glasses and wearable devices into everyday life. K-Glass 3’s more intuitive UI and convenient UX permit users to enjoy enhanced AR experiences such as a keyboard or a better, more responsive mouse.”

Along with the research team, UX Factory, a Korean UI and UX developer, participated in the K-Glass 3 project.

These research results entitled “A 126.1mW Real-Time Natural UI/UX Processor with Embedded Deep-Learning Core for Low-Power Smart Glasses” (paper number 14.1, lead author: Seong-Wook Park, a doctoral student in the Electrical Engineering Department, KAIST) were presented at the 2016 IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) that took place January 31-February 4, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

Handphone as a Modern Lifestyle

samsung s4Handphone has become the new technology of today’s lifestyle. As a proof, children as young as 7 years old are already using handphones. Thinking back at a decade ago, handphones are still bulky and expensive and they are only used by some people such as businessman and the rich. Today, handphones are largely used by most of us. It has been the primary needs of our daily life. In this rapidly changing world, technology is growing and handphones are getting affordably cheap.

There are a lot of important usages we can get from handphone. Let’s take a look at some of its positive effects. As its primary usage, of course, it is use as a way of communication. We can communicate anywhere we want as long as it has signal. For example, in Indonesia there are a lot of people working in other countries; handphones enable them to communicate with their family, especially for people living in the countryside. Short Message System which is also known as SMS is very popular among the youngsters. This is because SMS is much cheaper than making a call, thus makes them able to communicate without fearing of spending too much expenses. Multimedia Message System which is also known as MMS is very useful because we can send photos or pictures easily. Handphone can also be called as our personal secretary. It is already embedded with a lot of business applications such as calendar, reminder, calculator, notes, Microsoft office, and now it already supports Wi-Fi so that we can access to email, messenger and browse the web everywhere we want. These effects increase our society’s interaction and economical growth, and easy internet connection network brings us closer to what’s happending in the world around us. Another purpose is, it can be used as a source of entertainment such as game applications, radio FM and music player. We are no longer required to bring walkman and other game consoles, thus affect our moods as a tranquilizer to relax.

Besides of its positive effects, there are also negative effects too. As we all know, the spreading of pornography is getting more and more uncontrollable and handphone can be use as a tool of this reason. Pornography can be transfer easily through MMS, Wi-Fi and GPRS connection. This pornography influences the moral of the people. Some people are concerned that internet could be exploited for serious crimes. It also can be use as a way of cheating; there are some cases where students are using their handphones to cheat by sending SMS to some friends, another case is, teachers and students find it rather disruptive as it distracts the concentration of other pupils when they are using phones during lessons and starts to ring. This negative effect wasted teachers’ time by scolding pupils and slowed the class progression. The other effect is that it can give some negative effect for our health, due to its radiation that is emitted while using handphones. This might affect our health issue as it expose us with more radiation and extensive exposure of radiation leads us to injuries that damages our tissues and cells in the body. It can also be use as a way of communication at the wrong hands, for example criminal communicates to other criminals to break the law by doing criminal acts. These dishonorable acts bring great effects in our society.

As we know that children may be more vulnerable than adults to the potential risks of using mobile phones. Therefore, it is important for parents to monitor their children’s activities on the phone. In my opinion, handphone is an incredible invention with great usages provided we, as users, are completely aware of the negative and harmful effects that is affecting ourselves and the society. We have to be responsible for our behaviours, so that other people does not feel uncomfortable or even opposed by our acts.

Apple Surpassed Samsung As Global Phone Market Leader, Says Report

For the fourth quarter of 2014, Apple AAPL -0.55% reported a record-breaking profit of $18 billion — which is the largest ever reported by a public company – while Samsung said its profits actually dropped 37% year-on-year. After those results, there was speculation that Apple had become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer again. IT research firm Gartner is now claiming that Apple has narrowly surpassed Samsung in smartphone sales.

Apple sold 74.8 million iPhones compared to Samsung’s sales of 73 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of last year. This is a dramatic change from one year earlier when Samsung sold 83.3 million smartphones against Apple’s 50.2 million iPhone sales. Apple’s win over Samsung in Q4 2014 is the first time that the Cupertino giant sold the most number of smartphones globally since 2011. For Q4 2014, Apple hit 20.4% for the global smartphone marketshare, surpassing Samsung’s 19.9% share. Lenovo  took the third place spot through its sales of Lenovo and Motorola mobile phones for the fourth quarter of 2014. Lenovo hit a 6.6% market share, which is 47.6% growth year-over-year. Lenovo acquired Motorola’s mobile division in October 2014.

“Samsung’s performance in the smartphone market deteriorated further in the fourth quarter of 2014, when it lost nearly 10 percentage points in market share,” said Gartner’s principal research analyst Anshul Gupta in a company statement. “Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013. This downward trend shows that Samsung’s share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure.” In a separate study, research firm Strategy Analytics claimed that Apple accounted for 89% of all smartphone profits for Q4 2014 at an estimated $18.8 billion compared to Android’s $2.4 billion. Samsung’s response to the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus is the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, launching worldwide on April 10th — which should drive up the numbers for the Korean giant in 2015.

Chinese mobile company Xiaomi is nipping at the heels of the major smartphone players by offering high quality Android devices at a lower cost. Out of all of the global smartphone makers, Xiaomi saw the largest jump at triple its sales compared to a year ago. Xiaomi shipped 18.6 million smartphones in Q4 2014, behind Huawei’s 21 million and Lenovo’s 24 million.

Apple is currently dominating the premium phone market and Chinese mobile phone companies are offering quality devices in the lower cost market. This is causing Samsung to feel the pressure in both markets. Samsung has to stay innovative to maintain its strong marketshare, otherwise its profits will continue to drop. Gartner research director Roberta Cozza said that Samsung can secure its longer-term differentiation by offering a solid ecosystem of apps, content and services.

Even though Samsung suffered a loss during the fourth quarter of 2014, they still remained the largest smartphone vendor for the year. In 2014, Samsung shipped about 307.5 million smartphones while Apple shipped an estimated 191.4 million devices.

How many smartphones shipped around the world altogether in 2014? About 1.2 billion smartphones were shipped in 2014, up from 969.7 million in 2013. Statistically, every two out of three mobile phones that shipped last year were smartphones. Smartphones are simply becoming ubiquitous around the world and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top over the next few quarters.

Microsoft targets mobile phone unit as 7,800 more jobs go

Microsoft is shedding another 7,800 jobs as it reorganises its Nokia mobile phone unit.

The move represents a massive shift in strategy for Microsoft since it purchased Nokia’s mobile phone business for €5.44bn ($7.5bn; £4.5bn) last year.

Microsoft axed 18,000 jobs from the unit last July – the deepest cuts in the company’s history.

The technology giant will also write down the value of the Nokia deal by $7.6bn.

Microsoft currently has about 118,000 employees worldwide. A statement from the government in Finland, were Nokia is based, said the job losses would include some 2,300 posts in the country.

The statement said the government was “disappointed with Microsoft’s decision” and called a special ministerial meeting to consider assistance for those affected. “Loss of so many jobs is very sad for the whole society and for individuals affected,” it said.

Microsoft said in a statement that it would “restructure the company’s phone hardware business to better focus and align resources”.

Although still strong in the software market for personal computers, the company is faces strong competition in the fight to establish its mobile handset operation. This market is dominated by devices powered by Google’s Android system or Apple’s iOS.

A survey by research firm IDC said Microsoft’s Windows was expected to capture just 3.2% of the global smartphone market this year.

‘Reinvention’

In a memo to staff, the company’s chief executive Satya Nadella said: “I am committed to our first-party devices including phones. However, we need to focus our phone efforts in the near term while driving reinvention.

“We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family.”

Microsoft is due to start rolling out Windows 10 later this month, introducing a new operating system that can be used to power not only personal computers but a range of mobile devices.

Last month, Microsoft announced a shakeup of top management including the departure of Stephen Elop, the former Nokia chief who joined the US tech company as part of the acquisition

Analysis: Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent

Soon after the former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop became chief executive of Nokia, he wrote a memo to staff warning that the ailing company and its Symbian operating system was on a burning platform.

His solution was to jump on to another platform, the Windows Phone operating system, and eventually to sell the whole business to Microsoft. The alliance of the Windows Phone software with the Nokia hardware was supposed to create a powerful third force in the smartphone market, providing consumers with an attractive alternative to Android and Apple phones.

But now this platform too is burning, and Microsoft’s $7.3bn investment in Nokia along with its smartphone has gone up in flames. Stephen Elop has already left and now nearly 8,000 employees, many of them former Nokia staff, will follow him out of the business.

Microsoft says it will now change direction, creating an “ecosystem” which will see Windows phones built by other manufacturers alongside its own handsets.

The company which dominated the desktop computer era has never been a major force in mobile computing. Microsoft describes itself as “the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world” – but that platform still needs some work.

HP Will Release a “Revolutionary” New Operating System in 2015

Hewlett-Packard will take a big step toward shaking up its own troubled business and the entire computing industry next year when it releases an operating system for an exotic new computer.

The company’s research division is working to create a computer HP calls The Machine. It is meant to be the first of a new dynasty of computers that are much more energy-efficient and powerful than current products. HP aims to achieve its goals primarily by using a new kind of computer memory instead of the two types that computers use today. The current approach originated in the 1940s, and the need to shuttle data back and forth between the two types of memory limits performance.

“A model from the beginning of computing has been reflected in everything since, and it is holding us back,” says Kirk Bresniker, chief architect for The Machine. The project is run inside HP Labs and accounts for three-quarters of the 200-person research staff. CEO Meg Whitman has expanded HP’s research spending in support of the project, says Bresniker, though he would not disclose the amount.

The Machine is designed to compete with the servers that run corporate networks and the services of Internet companies such as Google and Facebook. Bresniker says elements of its design could one day be adapted for smaller devices, too.

HP must still make significant progress in both software and hardware to make its new computer a reality. In particular, the company needs to perfect a new form of computer memory based on an electronic component called a memristor (see “Memristor Memory Readied for Production”).

A working prototype of The Machine should be ready by 2016, says Bresniker. However, he wants researchers and programmers to get familiar with how it will work well before then. His team aims to complete an operating system designed for The Machine, called Linux++, in June 2015. Software that emulates the hardware design of The Machine and other tools will be released so that programmers can test their code against the new operating system. Linux++ is intended to ultimately be replaced by an operating system designed from scratch for The Machine, which HP calls Carbon.

Programmers’ experiments with Linux++ will help people understand the project and aid HP’s progress, says Bresniker. He hopes to gain more clues about, for example, what types of software will benefit most from the new approach.

The main difference between The Machine and conventional computers is that HP’s design will use a single kind of memory for both temporary and long-term data storage. Existing computers store their operating systems, programs, and files on either a hard disk drive or a flash drive. To run a program or load a document, data must be retrieved from the hard drive and loaded into a form of memory, called RAM, that is much faster but can’t store data very densely or keep hold of it when the power is turned off.

HP plans to use a single kind of memory—in the form of memristors—for both long- and short-term data storage in The Machine. Not having to move data back and forth should deliver major power and time savings. Memristor memory also can retain data when powered off, should be faster than RAM, and promises to store more data than comparably sized hard drives today.

The Machine’s design includes other novel features such as optical fiber instead of copper wiring for moving data around. HP’s simulations suggest that a server built to The Machine’s blueprint could be six times more powerful than an equivalent conventional design, while using just 1.25 percent of the energy and being around 10 percent the size.

HP’s ideas are likely being closely watched by companies such as Google that rely on large numbers of computer servers and are eager for improvements in energy efficiency and computing power, says Umakishore Ramachandran, a professor at Georgia Tech. That said, a radical new design like that of The Machine will require new approaches to writing software, says Ramachandran.

There are other prospects for reinvention besides HP’s technology. Companies such as Google and Facebook have shown themselves to be capable of refining server designs. And other new forms of memory, all with the potential to make large-scale cloud services more efficient, are being tested by researchers and nearing commercialization (see “Denser, Faster Memory Challenges Both DRAM and Flash” and “A Preview of Future Disk Drives”).

“Right now it’s not clear what technology is going to become useful in a big way,” says Steven Swanson, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, who researches large-scale computer systems.

HP may also face skepticism because it has fallen behind its own timetable for getting memristor memory to market. When the company began working to commercialize the components, together with semiconductor manufacturer Hynix, in 2010, the first products were predicted for 2013 (see “Memristor Memory Readied for Production”).

Today, Bresniker says the first working chips won’t be sent to HP partners until 2016 at the earliest.

Samsung wows investors with futuristic tech that Apple’s iPhone is already delivering

Samsung will “lead by following” Apple Watch

Samsung LSI marketing team head Kyushik Hong spoke at length about “Innovation for the next mobile experience,” outlining plans to introduce a “Bio Processor” chip that packed a series of components related to health related data recording. Asked when the new chip would be introduced and when Samsung expected it to become a meaningful revenue generator, Hong stated that it was expected to ship early next year and might be used in some kind of band or other product focusing on activity, not necessarily from Samsung. And while his presentation discussed “wearable device trend” and the potential of wearables to grow dramatically in shipment volumes, there was no discussion of how Samsung was actually performing in the smartwatch category it largely introduced, before partnering with Google on Android Wear and then going solo with its own Tizen-based Gear watches, all without achieving any success along the way, before being steamrolled by the arrival of Apple Watch.

At the same time, the “trends” Samsung identified for wearable devices included authentication and payment, features Samsung’s Galaxy Gear models continue to lack. Apple Watch introduced Apple Pay last fall, but the company’s own new “Samsung Pay” is a feature still confined to Samsung’s phones.

The primary unique “feature” Samsung added to its watches that Apple didn’t was a small, low quality 1.9 MP camera, which gave it a creepy voyeur-vibe reminiscent of Google Glass while failing to capture images of any useful quality.

Samsung’s Galaxy Gear lineup hasn’t attract many buyers. Instead, the watch ended up with Best Buy seeing more than 30 percent of its sales being returned by unsatisfied customers, according to a report by Ars.

Samsung unveils some existing camera technology

Focusing next on photography as a feature of smartphones, Hong introduced “fast and accurate auto focus” using phase detection. Apple calls this “Focus Pixels,” and introduced it last year as a feature of iPhone 6 (using sensors developed by Sony). Samsung had earlier introduced phase detection autofocus in its Galaxy S5, but its speed to market didn’t change the fact that the S5 was outsold by Apple’s iPhone 5s models without the feature. iPhone 6, with Focus Pixels of its own, further trounced the Galaxy S6.

While much attention is devoted to imagining how Apple’s innovations and technologies will be commodified by Android licensees, the reverse actually seems to be happening: any technical advantage introduced by others is eventually adopted by Apple (examples include LTE, NFC and barometers), while Apple’s technical leaps remain largely unmatched by rivals (such as Touch ID, Continuity and 3D Touch).
Other “futuristic” ideas the company addressed included using multiple exposures composited to achieve wide dynamic range and “ISOCELL technology” that puts a barrier between pixels to increase light sensitivity and effectively “controls the absorption of electrons.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because Apple introduced the concept as “deep trench isolation,” in explaining its efforts to increase the pixel count within the iPhone 6s camera sensor without also increasing the noise commonly experienced as pixels get smaller as they are packed more densely to increase overall resolution.

Samsung rushed high resolution camera sensors to market before Apple, but their high megapixel counts didn’t result in better photos. Instead, it resulted in low light noise and less accurate color reproduction.

While Apple explained that it was using this new technology to increase iPhone camera resolution without losing quality, Samsung stated that its goal for the same process (under a different name) was to reduce pixel size in order to help reduce the overall thickness of its phones. Samsung stated it was reducing the pixel size of its 16MP sensor from 1.12um to 1.0um to achieve 1mm of reduced thickness. Apple reduced the pixel size of iPhone 6 from 8MP at 1.5um to 12MP at 1.22um, not primarily to reduce device thickness, but to increase photo and video capture resolution without losing quality, maintaining larger pixels than competing sensors. Pixel size reduction on its own simply makes each pixel less sensitive to light.

It’s noteworthy that while Apple uses a custom version of Sony’s camera sensor for iPhone 6/6s, Samsung also uses Sony’s IMX240 sensor in its Galaxy S6/S6 Edge, at least in the versions it sends to reviewers. Regular users are finding that Samsung might also swap in its own ISOCELL camera sensors to save money, resulting in reduced image quality.

This all happened before

Overall, Samsung’s investor conference seemed far less ambitious and confident as its event from 2013, where JK Shin, Samsung’s president and chief executive of IT & Mobile, promised that the company would “play a key role in the premium smartphone market.”

As AppleInsider noted at the time, this was a direct contradiction of the warning Samsung had earlier given its investors of slowing profits.

It also belied the reality that most of the phones Samsung had been—and was currently selling—were low end devices, not premium phones. Further, Samsung has been—and continues to repeatedly note—that its premium sales remain static (rather than experiencing any tremendous growth in demand as promised) and that its unit growth is coming from low end devices, which are eroding its Average Selling Price.
Back in 2013, Samsung focused upon screen resolutions, forecasting that by this year, it would be selling smartphones with 3840×2160 displays. Instead of that happening, the company is still selling “WQHD” screens, and even those are plaguing Samsung’s high end devices with excessive screen resolutions that its relatively anemic Application Processors aren’t quite capable of driving competitively.

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