Monday, January 31, 2011

#CHIPS: "IDT says new chips cut touchscreen's cost"

Touchscreens for mobile handsets, personal navigation devices, handheld gaming platforms and other pocket-sized electronic devices can be built more inexpensively by adopting a the world's first single-layer multi-touch capacitive controller, according to Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT). Look for the price of touchscreen tablets to continue to decline as competitors harness innovations like these over the next two years. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Prototype touchscreen using IDT's proprietary PureTouch single-layer multi-touch capacitive technology.

Called PureTouch, IDT claims its new technology not only reduces the price of touchscreens, but also lowers their power consumption and increases the effective brightness of both liquid-crystal dispalys (LCDs) and active-matrix light-emitting-diode screens (AMOLED)...
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Friday, January 28, 2011

#WIRELESS: "Smartphone Apps Mobilizing Vehicle Telematics"

The newest automotive computing platform is that smartphone you already have in your pocket. Look for an explosion of third-party automotive smartphone apps over the next few years, for everything from infotainment to waking up drowsy drivers. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

OnStar's MyLink app allows smartphone users to access on-board systems, here showing the charge of a Chevy Volt and the gasoline left in a Chevy Cruze.

Here is what my Smarter Technology story says about smartphone automotive telematics" Automobiles are adding smartphone apps to vehicle telematics systems that use wireless connectivity to access, control and manage all on-board real-time access to vehicle functions, from activating horn and lights (to locate your vehicle in a parking lot) to asking for roadside assistance. You can also view real-time reports on fuel range, gallons of gas remaining, average miles per gallon, current mileage, remaining oil life and current tire pressure...
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

#NANOTECH: "Boosting piezoelectrics and thermoelectrics"

Nanoscaling critical dimensions of advanced piezoelectric and thermoelectric materials is inching them toward commercial energy harvesting applications, according to separate research groups at Northwestern University and Boston College. Look for energy harvesting applications that cool down data centers and make electric automobiles more efficient within five years. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Piezoelectric nanowires undergo coupled electromechanical testing with a MEMS device.

Here is what my EETimes story says about energy harvesting: The peizoelectric research group, led by Northwestern University professor Horacio Espinosa, claims that its energy efficiency coefficient can be boosted by 20- to 100-times by narrowing energy harvesting nanowires to under 2.4 nanometers. Likewise, the second research group, led by Boston College researcher Xiao Yan, claims that thermoelectric materials can harvest heat from automobile exhaust 60 to 90 percent better by hot pressing them from 5 to 10 nanometer grains...
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#MARKETS: "Google's 3 Pillars of Growth and Dual Achilles Heels"

Unstoppable Google continues to grow faster than competitors like Microsoft's Bing on the strength of its three core businesses, according to recent market research. But dual Achilles heels could cloud Google's long-term prospects. Look for Google to continue unbridled growth until Facebook in the U.S. and foreign government sponsored rivals clone it search algorithms over the rest of the decade. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Google share of the burgeoning global search market continues to grow and grow.

Google has built its success on three pillars of growth, according to the marketing research and business intelligence company IHS. As a result, Google's core businesses are still rising rapidly; however, two challenges could curtail the company's long-term prospects...
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

#MARKETS: "Deposition process makes brighter LEDs"

A novel deposition process for gallium nitride not only should brighten LEDs, but the materia-science breakthrough could boost all sorts of high-power and high-frequency applications, from the laser diodes used in Blu-Ray disks to the high-power MOSFETs used in electric cars to future spintronic devices. Look or improved LEDs within two years. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

A new process for gallium nitride (GaN) films removes efficiency robbing defects--dark streaks (a)--by trapping them in voids--elipsoids (b).

Here is what my EETimes story said about brighter LEDS: A new gallium nitride (GaN) process purifies that high-energy material by eliminating up to 1,000 times as many defects as are typically present, according to its inventors at North Carolina State University. The NCSU researchers predict that light-emitting diodes (LEDs), power transistors and other devices cast in GaN will be able to double their outputs by switching to the new process...
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Monday, January 24, 2011

#MATERIALS: "Nanotape could make solder pads obsolete"

Side-view SEM of an aligned carbon nanotube film fabricated on a MEMS resonator for measuring thermal and mechanical properties.

Hot spots on chips--especially processors and graphics accelerators--are a mounting problem for thermal management designed to be the heat out of modern electronics, but nanotape may be the answer. Look for nanotape to debut as a substitute for solder pads to mitigate the hot-spot problem within three years. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Mettalic adhesion layers on each side of the central core wet the carbon nanotube forest.

Solder pads could soon be made obsolete by a new nanotape material created by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and Stanford University. By sandwiching thermally conductive carbon nanotubes between thin metal foils, nanotape transfers heat away from chips better than solder but with a lightweight flexible material that is cheaper and and more compliant, according to researchers.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

#ALGORITHMS: "Android Leapfrogs iPhone on Gesture UI"

Gestures are becoming the newest user interface innovations, allowing normal actions such as lifting a phone to your ear to trigger the answering function (if the phone is ringing). Look for gestures to become the dominant user interface (UI) modality within five years. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

2-D gestures pioneered at Apple for its trackpad are being one-upped by Google's Android which has built 3-D gestures into its Android OS.

Here is what my Smarter Technology story says about gesture recognition: Gesture user-interface features were included in Google's recently unveiled Gingerbread release of the Android operating system. As a result, Android smartphones have an opportunity to one-up Apple's iPhone with advanced gesture recognition, such as the "lift-to-answer" feature in LG's Optimus Black smartphone just announced at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Android programmers can now leverage the new motion processing application programmers interface (API) in Gingerbread (version 2.3) to create natural acting algorithms that leapfrog Apple’s iPhone. OEMs can use any gesture to activate any feature on their phones--for instance, LG's Optimus Black uses "shake" to invoke camera mode and a "tap" to invoke its music player...

The world’s slimmest smartphone, at 9.2 millimeters, is also the first based on a gesture user interface.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

#CHIPS: "'Universal' memory aims to replace flash/DRAM"

Researchers have developed a single “unified” device that can perform both volatile and nonvolatile memory operation, with applications that could affect computer start times and energy efficiency for internet servers.

Universal memory chips are as fast as main memory, but can store data long-term like hard disks, collapsing the memory hierarchy that today burns so much energy by powering down when idle without losing data values. Look for universal memories to revolutionize computing over the rest of the decade. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Transmission electron micrograph (TEM) cross-section of the dual floating gate FET from NCSU.

Here is what my EETimes story says about universal memories: A single "universal" memory technology that combines the speed of DRAM with the non-volatility and density of flash memory was recently invented at North Carolina State University, according to researchers. The new memory technology, which uses a double floating-gate field-effect-transistor (FET), should enable computers to power down memories not currently being accessed, drastically cutting the energy consumed by computers of all types, from mobile and desktop computers to server farms and data centers, the researchers say...
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#WIRELESS: "Mobility Driving Enterprise VoIP to $6 Billion"

Mobile voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) today is at odds with the major carriers, since it diverts voice calls into already overcrowded data channels as well as siphoning off revenues for long-distance calling. However, with 4-G deployment, data channels will have the capacity and mobile carriers will have the motivation to support VoIP. Look for VoIP to become the dominant long-distance telephone modality within seven years. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Mobile VoIP will grow its user base 10 times over five years, resulting in over 221 million users by 2014, according to In-Stat (Scottsdale, Ariz.)

Here is what my Smarter Technology story says about mobile VoIP: As the mobile carriers embrace voice-over-Internet protocols (VoIP), voice calls are increasingly moving into the data channel--especially with the rollout of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband. As a result, the user base is expected to grow tenfold over the next five years, creating a $6 billion market for VoIP gateway equipment suppliers...VoIP enables voice calls over the Internet—like the Skype app—by sending digitized audio over the same data channels used for Web pages and music downloads, potentially cutting long-distance calling costs to the price of your Internet connection. And with the widespread rollout of LTE mobile broadband by every major carrier, the telecoms have finally aligned their best interest with IT—enabling widespread deployment of mobile VoIP with nearly zero-cost long-distance service...
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#DISPLAYS: "3 Reasons Flexible Electronics Enable Smarter Displays"

Flexible electronics is finally making headway after a decade of unfulfilled promises. Look for displays to drop in price as well as achieve new form factors in the coming years as a result of new flexible electronics inside. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center shows its active-matrix electrophoretic display based on E-Ink flexible touchscreen. Instead of using stiff glass for support, it uses a flexible DuPont Teijin Film.

For a decade or more, flexible electronics has been just over the horizon, beaconing from a future where all mobile computerized equipment could be rolled up like a bedroll for transportation. Despite these unfulfilled expectations, here are three ways that smarter displays are realizing the unfulfilled dreams of flexible electronics.
Flash Gordon popularized the idea of flying cars more than 50 years ago, but still they are not here. Likewise, the era of mobile computers that you can roll up like a scroll could still be a dream 50 years hence.
Nevertheless, the technologies that caused all the speculation about flexible electronics are already revolutionizing the multi-billion-dollar display industry. Theoretically, flexible displays could be rolled up like a blueprint or pulled down like a window blind. The reality, however, is that flexible, printable, organic electronics are finding their best uses in cost-reducing three aspects of the manufacturing of electronic displays (albeit without making the entire display flexible).
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#ALGORITHMS: "3-D gesture control breaks out of the game box"

3-D gesture recognition is going mainstream--jumping from the consumer market for gaming to that most iconic user interfaces (UI) like the TV remote, as well as helping to build more intuitive smartphones and touchscreen tablets. Look for 3-D gestures like shake-to-undo to become standard UI fare within two years. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

3-D gestures are going mainstream in 2011, inspired partly by a 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstration of how a layer of photodiodes to the backside of a liquid-crystal display lets the LCD recognize hand gestures made in front of the screen.

Here is what my EETimes story says about gesture recognition: This could be the year 3-D gesture recognition proves it’s not just child’s play. Several years after its first consumer market appearance in the wireless gaming interface for Nintendo’s Wii, MEMS sensor-based gesture recognition is extending its reach to smartphones and is set to take hold of that most iconic of consumer interfaces: the TV remote. Since the Wii’s 2006 release, Nintendo’s competitors have spun their own versions of 3-D gesture recognition and processing. Sony tuned the Move Playstation controller for hard-core gamers seeking pinpoint accuracy; Microsoft took the gaming interface hands-free with the Xbox Kinect.

Movea's Gesture Builder allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to design their own gestures an includes a run-time library for devices that allow users to define their own gestures.

Apple was the first to pick up on microelectromechanical sensors’ potential for building more intuitive smartphone interfaces; it added MEMS accelerometers to the iPhone in 2007 and a MEMS gyroscope in 2010. Its competitors have followed suit, and soon 3-D commands such as shake-to-undo, lift-to-answer and face-down-to-disconnect will be standard smartphone fare...

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#OPTICAL: "Brightest nanoparticles shun quantum"

Quantum dots used to be the world's brightest nanoparticles, but now Clarkson University claims to have one-upped quantum confinement in favor of encapsulating fluorescent organic nanoparticles inside silica shells. Look for ultra-sensitive detectors using functionalized silica nanoparticlews within three years. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) image of an ultrabright fluorescent mesoporous silica nanoparticle (image colored artificially to match the actual color of the dye in the particles).

Here is what my EETimes story says about silica nanoparticles: The crown for the world's brightest nanoparticles has been claimed by the inventor of mesoporous silicon-dioxide (silica) nanoparticles, which have proven to be 34-times brighter than the brightest quantum dots—previously the world's brightest nanoparticles. The transparent silicon-dioxide hulls harbored fluorescent nanoparticles inside—rather than use quantum-confinement like quantum dots—enabling much brighter operation, according to their inventors at Clarkson University (Potsdam, New York)...

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

#MEMS: "Microphones integrate interchip sound"

Micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) pioneers Analog Devices just introduced their first solid-state microphone two years ago, but already it is ploughing new furrows with the world's first MEMS mic to use a state-of-the-art digital interface, rather than the legacy interface of non-MEMS mics. Look for MEMS microphones to displace electrets in all but the most cost sensitive applications by 2012. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Analog Devices' 441 iMEMS digital microphone has a tiny silicon diaphram contained on a separate die measuring just one square millimeter.

Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) aims to bring high-fidelity audio to industrial, business and consumer applications with the world's first micro-electro-mechanical system chip to package a MEMS microphone with an industry standard 24-bit data integrated interchip sound—I2S—interface...
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Monday, January 17, 2011

#ENERGY: "Green IT Calculator Assesses ROI"

The Aberdeen Group has created an online Green IT Assessment Calculator that allows companies to assess the return on investment that they can expect from "going green," along with providing an actionable green IT road map to prioritize the steps you need to take to improve your company's green performance as well as its perceived "green persona." Look for more enterprises' IT departments to go-green in the coming years. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

A graphical chart generated by the questionnaire compares your company's green footprint with other best-in-class (BIC) companies in collaboration (C), energy conservation (E) and virtualization (V), with the size and shading of bubbles representing organizational capabilities and overall score, respectively.

Here is what my Ziff-Davis Smarter Technology story says about IT going green: The Aberdeen Green IT Assessment Calculator is a complimentary Web-based survey and ROI tool based on the Green IT and Sustainability practice at the Aberdeen Group (a Boston-based Harte-Hanks Company). Equally applicable to small, medium and large companies, the Green IT Assessment Calculator asks a series of questions that positions your company among your best-in-class (BIC) rivals regarding environmental strategies, capabilities and technologies in three key areas: energy efficiency, collaboration and virtualization.
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Friday, January 14, 2011

#CHIPS: "Solid-state quantum memory unveiled"

Quantum networks will allow sending information without being afraid of somebody listening in. Photo credit: Riley Brandt

Here is what my UBM's EETimes story says about quantum memories: Broadband quantum networks inched closer to reality recently when researchers demonstrated the ability to transfer quantum-bits (qubits) from entangled photons to solid-state crystalline memory devices. Using a super-cooled crystal the researchers were able to demonstrate the reversible transfer of entangled qubits from a quantum network waveguide to the solid-state memory and back again.

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#ALGORITHMS: "ActuateOne Takes Open-Source BI Mobile"

The open-source business intelligence (BI) app ActuateOne offers native support for Apple and BlackBerry devices on the model of BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tool)—an open-source software standard by the Eclipse Foundation that provides reporting and other BI. Look for mobile versons of every major BI application in 2011. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

ActuateOne provides animated dashboards that access a single BIRT-compatible iServer for both desktop and mobile devices.

Here is what my Smarter Technology story says about mobile business intelligence (BI): For the first time, AcutateOne brings open-source BI to Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as to BlackBerry smartphones. Native access with Business Intelligence and Reporting Tool (BIRT) Mobile, which is based on ActuateOne, includes access to all the advanced features of these platforms such as orientation awareness, touch navigation, e-mail and phone dialing.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

#MEMS: "Microfluidic pumps focus liquid lens"

RPI's liquid pistons precisely pump droplets of nanoparticle-infused ferrofluids, which move in and out to focus a liquid lens.

Here is what my UBM's EETimes story says about liquid lenses: Liquid lenses are already used in immersion lithography to boost resolution, but the free-air droplets must be manually adjusted for proper focus. Now Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has shown a liquid lens with a focal length that can be electrically adjusted with tiny microfluidic pistons with no moving parts. RPI claims its electromagnetic liquid lens could boost all types of precision imaging applications, from immersion lithography to implantable retinas to the ultra-low power cameras on cell phones.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

#WIRELESS: "Mobile Gear Aims for Trillion-Dollar Mark"

The seemingly unstoppable mobile communications industry, powered by billion-unit cell phone sales, will top the quarter-trillion-dollar mark in 2011, according to iSuppli. Look for mobile electronics to rival the food and health-care industries in trillion dollar sales by the end of the decade. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

The mobile communications market hit $235.5 billion in 2010, but will grow to $359.3 billion by 2014, according to iSuppli.

Here is what my Ziff-Davis Smarter Technology story says about mobile communications markets: Not many markets can claim trillion-dollar sizes, besides the food industry and health care, but soon mobile communication will be joining that elite group. Worldwide equipment revenue for the mobile communications industry hit $235 billion in 2010 and will grow to over $359 billion by 2014, according to iSuppli (a wholly owned subsidiary of IHS)...
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Monday, January 10, 2011

#MARKETS: "Android Touch-Screen Tablets Doomed"

Legions of touch-screen tablets based on Google's Android operating system were shown at CES 2011. Unfortunately, the shakeout has already begun, even before the nearly 100 different iPad copycats hit the shelves, according to analysts. Look for a few Android touchscreen tablets to rival Apple iPad in sales by 2012, with the rest headed for bankruptcy. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Toshiba's Tablet computer not only copies the iPad form factor, but even used the same photographic style--with the slanting shadow--that distinguished Apple's product shots.

Here is what my Ziff-Davis Smarter Technology story says about the touchscreen-tablet market: Apple surprised even itself with the overwhelming popularity of the iPad, which has racked up sales of 13 million units in 2010, according to Gartner (Stamford, Conn.), and which will ramp up to as many as 45 million units in 2011—compared with as few as 10 million units from competitors...
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Thursday, January 06, 2011

#MATERIALS: "Color imaging reveals graphene defects"

Colorizing technique shows electrical and material properties of graphene sheets.

Pure sheets of graphene promise to run cooler yet faster than today's silicon chips. Unfortunately defect-free graphene sheets are extremely difficult to grow and even harder to characterize for defects...Cornell University researchers claim to have invented an imaging technique that simplifies their metrology by coloring graphene sheets to quickly identify their properties.
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#CHIPS: "Racetrack Memory Aims to Replace Flash/HD"

IBM is perfecting a solid-state memory technology that, like flash memory chips, is intended to replace hard disk drives with devices that have no moving parts. And even better than flash, IBM's racetrack memory does not wear out no matter how many times you read, write or erase it. Look for racetrack memories, and a whole array of others, to rival flash and hard disks by the end of the decade. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

IBM has demonstrated all the component parts of its racetrack memory, which moves magnetic bits along a stationary nanowire "track" that stores hundreds of times more information than even the densest hard disk.

Here is what my Ziff-Davis' Smarter Technology story says about racetrack memories: Magnetic memory technologies—notably hard disk drives—can be read, written and erased any number of times, since the only changes made are in the orientation of the magnetic material on its surface, which does not fatigue. Unfortunately, solid-state memories like flash will never completely replace hard disks because they fatigue and wear out after about 10,000 read/write cycles...
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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

#WIRELESS: "Freescale magnetometer shrinks e-compass for mobile gear"

Freescale claims to have the world's smallest three-axis magnetometer, measuring just two millimeter square.

Electronic compasses can now be built with a magnetometer that Freescale Semiconductor claims is smaller and less power-hungry than competing devices. The new Xtrinsic MAG3110 is a three-axis device that can determine headings for navigation, dead-reckoning indoors and a range of emerging location-based services (LBSes) for smartphones and other mobile devices.

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#MARKETS: "Venture Capitalists Bullish on 2011"

After several years of recession, it appear that venture capitalists will be loosening the purse strings this year--good news for startups. And with IPOs on the rise as well, private investors should be able to ride the rise as well. Look for measured but steady progress in VC as the recession recedes. R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Total U.S. venture investments in 2011 will increase according to 51 percent of VCs and 58 percent of CEOs.

Here is what my story at Smarter Technology says about VC's: Venture View 2011 predicts a rip-roaring year for information technology (IT), with over 80 percent of the venture capitalists and VC-based CEOs surveyed predicting increased investments in 2011, especially in consumer (Internet), cloud computing and health care IT, with mobile telecom and software as a service (SaaS) both getting boosted investment prospects as well...
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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

#ENERGY: "Freescale slays ‘vampire’ power in consumer gear"

Freescale's Watt Saver technology found a design win in AT&T's Zero Charger for cell phones.

Vampire power—the standby milliwatts that device chargers continue to draw even when the device battery is fully charged or no device is connected to the charger—wastes resources and costs consumers billions annually worldwide. For its Watt Saver technology, Freescale combined a microcontroller with firmware to monitor power usage and a relay to cut power to the charger completely when it is not needed. AT&T already uses the technology in its Zero Charger for cell phones; now Freescale is pitching Watt Saver to a broader market.
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