Category: Mobile/Telecom

Tablets vs. E-Readers: Why There’s Room For Both

E-readers are screwed.

That’s the main takeaway from Wednesdays ominously worded report from IHS, anyway. The numbers are pretty dramatic: By the end of the year, sales of dedicated ebook reading devices will have dropped 36% from 2011. Come 2016, says IHS, total e-reader sale volume will be just two-thirds of what it was last year.

Yikes. Is this really the death of e-readers?

It makes perfect sense that e-reader sales are falling off a cliff. Tablets are eating their lunch. Not only has Apple sold 84 million iPads to date, but the companies who have dominated the e-reader market are themselves shipping tablets now.

Consumers are quite naturally drawn to these multi-function, multimedia-capable gadgets that can stream movies, browse the Web, take photos, play Letterpress and do just about anything else app developers can dream up. And yes, those same devices – whose prices keep falling – let you read books too.

My iPad Is Great, But I Really Want A Kindle

When Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPad, I thought it was absurd. Never would I need to supplement my laptop and iPhone with this giant iPod Touch, I declared.

Read the complete article at Read Write.

Kinect component maker to launch compact 3D sensor to fit in smartphones

PrimeSense, which developed the 3D sensing technology used in Microsoft’s Kinect, is set to unveil a compact 3D sensor that can fit into a variety of consumer electronic devices.

Apple’s control through patents over many elements of touch-based user interfaces discourages competitors from innovating in this area, Malik Saadi, principal analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, said Wednesday. Many vendors are looking into alternatives, like touch-free gesture recognition that can be facilitated by 3D sensors, he said.

For example, Samsung is looking at gesture recognition and will probably be deploying it next year or soon after, Saadi said.

Voice and gesture recognition are key to the future of smartphones, Saadi said. The combination of touch with voice and gesture recognition will very likely lead to a superior user experience and innovative application development, he said.

Read the complete article at PC World.

A New Chip to Bring 3-D Gesture Control to Smartphones

The clickwheel of the first iPod worked by measuring electric field disturbances in one dimension. The first iPhone touch screen functioned similarly, but in two dimensions.

This week, Microchip Technology, a large U.S. semiconductor manufacturer, says it is releasing the first controller that uses electrical fields to make 3-D measurements.

The low-power chip makes it possible to interact with mobile devices and a host of other consumer electronics using hand gesture recognition, which today is usually accomplished with camera-based sensors. A key limitation is that it only recognizes motions, such as a hand flick or circular movement, within a six-inch range.

“That’s the biggest drawback,” says University of Washington computing interface researcher Sidhant Gupta. “But I think, still, it’s a pretty big win, especially when compared to a camera system. It’s low-cost and low-power. I can completely see it going into phones.”

Gesture recognition technology has advanced in recent years with efforts to create more-natural user interfaces that go beyond touch screens, keyboards, and mouses (see “What Comes After the Touchscreen?”). Microsoft’s Kinect made 3-D gesture recognition popular for game consoles, for example. But while creative uses of the Kinect have proliferated, the concept hasn’t become mainstream in desktops, laptops, or mobile devices quite yet.

Read the complete article at Technology Review.

Would you use an e-book version of Netflix?

…Could you see yourself signing up for a monthly subscription to an ebook library?

It’s an interesting question. After all, prose books aren’t exactly the same kind of “passive” media as music, or even movies or television; you rarely (if ever) hear of someone reading a book in the background while engaged in other activities in the same way that they might listen to music or even half-pay attention to whatever’s on the television in the room, for example. Reading a book requires a commitment that changes our relationship with the media, and may mean that readers are more likely to purchase their ebooks rather than rent them. Not that there’s not a long history of “renting” books, which is another potential bump in the road for the paid subscription model for ebooks: There’s such a thing as your local library, which does much the same thing, but for free (There is also Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library, which is free for Amazon Prime subscribers, of course).

Read more at Digital Trends.

Foldable e-reader screen developed

Low-power, foldable electronic devices are starting to look like a realistic prospect, thanks to the development of a paper-thin screen made of plastic.

University of Cincinnati researchers have been testing an ‘electrofluidic imaging film’ which they say really works. It’s a white, porous film coated with a thin layer of reflective electrodes and spacers that uses sophisticated fluid mechanics to electrically transport colored ink.

“This is the first of any type of electrowetting display that can be made as a simple film that you laminate onto a sheet of controlling electronics,” says doctoral student Matthew Hagedon.

Read the complete article at TG Daily.

Gallery in Your Pocket: An Interview with Chiara Passa

What was your motivation behind starting the Widget Art Gallery?

Different reasons led me to start the Widget Art Gallery.

The first one is that I’ve always wanted to do my own curatorial digital art project in relation to a space.

The second reason is the economic crisis. So, it was unreasonable for me to rent an exposition space since it was too binding, and three years ago I decided to create a virtual display space that Id thought extremely coherent in order to show digital art; simple to manage for me and easy to understand for users. Due to our needs that seem to be increasingly handheld, WAG was born. The Widget Art Gallery is a mini three-D, single art gallery room that fits into people’s pocket.

The virtual gallery-room, every month, directly on people’s mobile, hosts a solo digital art exhibition related to the dynamic site-specific contest. So the WAG works both as a sort of kunsthall showing temporary exhibitions and as a permanent collection museum because it conserves all the past exhibitions inside an online archive.

The third aim is a conceptual and emotional one. Recently, I was surprised by the increasing involvement of the audience that I am seeing in some recent mobile-art projects, so I wanted to create a virtual space accessible to everybody by simply using an internet connection. The Widget Art Gallery is a free Safari Mobile Web-based App and works online through two different links for IPhone and IPad. It’s also possible to download the widget version for mac-osx dashboard.

Read the complete article at Rhizome.


Verizon Very Excited That It Can Track Everything Phone Users Do And Sell That To Whoever Is Interested

Your smartphone knows a lot about you. Assuming you’re a standard smartphone addict, your phone knows where you are at all times (because it’s with you); it knows when you’re sleeping (because your activity ceases); it knows which apps you use; it knows which websites you visit; it knows who you are friends with; and if it gets really sophisticated, know how often you hang out with them (because your phone is hanging out near their phones). All of this is rich, rich data in terms of providing insights into you and your activity that would be useful to companies who would like to know more about you and sell you things.

Last year, with little fanfare, Verizon quietly announced that it was making a change to its privacy policy to allow the company to start mining the rich data from your phone for use in “business and marketing reports.” The company has now started cashing in on the mining. CNet takes note of a May appearance by Bill Diggins, one of the Verizon Wireless execs in charge of Verizon’s new Precision Marketing Insights, which has the enviable role of selling information about Verizon customers’ location, Internet browsing, and app use — “anonymized and aggregated” — to anyone who wants to buy it. Diggins gave a candid take on how this information can be useful.

They used to say, “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” But now you can be paying $80 a month for it, and still be the product.

Read more at Forbes.

Google obtains patent for Project Glass-like smart-watch

Google’s Project Glass may soon extend to watches. On Tuesday, Google was granted a patent for a smart-watch with a flip-up display that appears to work much like Google’s highly-anticipated augmented-reality glasses.

According to the patent, the watch will contain a processor, wireless transmitter, camera, and transparent flip-up screen upon which information can be displayed. The wireless transmitter will allow the watch to connect to a smartphone, presumably so it can display smartphone notifications (emails, updates, etc.) as well as have access to a network. The camera will be used in conjunction with the flip-up display to determine what the watch is “looking” at, so that the watch will be able to display relevant augmented-reality information.

In the imagery provided with the patent, the flip-up screen is used to display product information.

Read the complete article at TechHive.

California Governor Vetoes Landmark Location-Privacy Law

California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have required the state’s authorities to get a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge to obtain location information from electronic devices such as tablets, mobile phones and laptops.

The measure passed the state Senate in May and the Assembly approved the plan in August.

The veto of the first-of-its-kind legislation was no surprise.

Brown, a Democrat, last year vetoed a measure requiring police officers to obtain a warrant before searching someone’s cellphone after arresting them. That leaves California police officers free to search through the mobile phones of persons arrested for any crime.

This year, Brown again caved to law enforcement.

Read the complete article at Wired.

A Clockwork Orange to scare you all over again

“A nasty little shocker” was how the TLS described A Clockwork Orange when it was published in 1962. Half a century on, Anthony Burgess joins TS Eliot and Shakespeare in having his work turned into a blockbuster iPad app.

Like Faber’s pioneering The Waste Land and The Sonnets apps, A Clockwork Orange (William Heinemann and PopLeaf, £9.99) combines interactive text, archival documents and video and sound recordings in a lavish production that for once warrants the words “unique” and “spectacular” in the press release.

Read the complete article at Guardian.