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  1. #1
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    waltky's Avatar Senior Member
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    Smart smartphones

    Star Trek's tricorder becomes a reality...

    Turning the smartphone from a telephone into a tricorder
    November 3, 2012 - Earlier this year, well known cardiologist Eric Topol published his highly successful book, “The Creative Destruction of Medicine.”
    In it he describes several examples where smartphones, particularly the iPhone, have been morphed into first-rate medical devices with the potential to put clinical-level diagnostics in the hands of everyday users. Coincidentally, Topol was on a flight not long ago, returning from a lecture where he had spoken about a new device made by AliveCor. The pilot intoned an urgent, “is there a doctor on board?” In response, Topol took out the AliveCor prototype, recorded a highly accurate electrocardiogram (ECG) of an ailing passenger, and made a quick diagnosis from 35,000 feet.

    As the leader in the smartphone revolution, the iPhone has been the platform of choice for early adopters in the health and quantified self arenas. Even so, there are a few shortcomings to development on the iPhone which, at least among DIYers, has led to Android becoming the path forward. Apple’s single-vendor solution and sequestering of many low-level input/output details behind the premise of ease of use have made interfacing the device to external sensors both a difficult and expensive proposition.

    While it can be nearly impossible to write an Android app that will work on every device out there, writing an app to work on one’s own smartphone or tablet is fairly straightforward. Another challenge to the smartphone as a medical device is that many important sensor variables are analog in nature. It is possible to use the analog-to-digital converter on the audio input for data acquisition, however in the absence of sophisticated multiplexing one is limited to a single channel (unless some kind of expansion device is used).

    Run tracking and calorie counting apps can certainly be regarded among the successes of the smartphone, but without dedicated sensor hardware, the philosophy of “there’s an app for that” only goes so far. A host of products now available for Android let users with a little bit of technical know-how create powerful devices previously found only in the domain of hospitals and law enforcement. One of the most successful expansion boards that allows Android devices to control external instruments and to orchestrate the collection of a variety of sensor data is the IOIO board. The system works well in wireless mode with most Bluetooth dongles, and its on-board FPGA gives 25 I/O channels, including plenty for analog input. It also handles analog output via pulse width modulation (PWM).

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    Efficient Power Amplifier Could Double Battery Life of Smartphones
    11.01.12 - The modern smartphone is the Hungry Hungry Hippo of the electronics world. Tablets, e-readers, and even notebooks are more efficient than the power-sucking smartphone in your pocket.
    While battery technology is slowly moving forward, an MIT spinout company is working to reduce the power consumed by not only smartphones but the base stations that keep them connected to the world. MIT Technology review reports that startup Eta Devices is bench testing a new power amplifier chip that consumes less power than those currently found in smartphones and base stations. Power amplifier chips transform electricity into radio signals and keep your smartphone connected to your carrier’s network.

    In current power amplifier chips the standby mode pulls a hefty amount of power in order to be ready to communicate with cell towers. Smartphones like the iPhone 5 have up to five power amplifier chips in them. These chips lose more than 65 percent of their energy to heat. It’s the reason your smartphone gets warm when you download large files.

    Eta Devices hopes to create a single chip that would regulate the amount of power needed by the radio by determining how much power is needed as many as 20 million times per second. Called asymmetric multilevel outphasing, the new technology would find the optimal energy usage needed by the radio without sacrificing the connection between smartphone and cell tower.

    The first application of the new technology will be in cell towers in 2013, according to the company. Towers currently lose 67 percent of their energy to heat and need to have cooling units installed to keep the power amplifiers from overheating. According to Eta Devices CEO Mattias Astrom, their chips will reduce the energy needed by towers by 50 percent. Once the technology hits smartphones, the mad search for an available power outlet at around 2 p.m. might go the way of searching for a pay phone when got a page on your beeper.

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/...mplifier-chip/
    Last edited by waltky; 11-04-2012 at 10:18 AM.

  2. #2
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    Lightbulb

    Is 'headset computing' the future?...

    Motorola unveils a computer that straps onto your head
    13 November 2012 - Imagine a computer that isn't a rectangular box like the PC on your desk or the smartphone in your pocket. Nor is it driven by a touchscreen or mouse and keyboard.
    Instead you wear it on your head and interact with it through voice commands. This isn't a fantasy look-ahead to what computers may be like in years to come. It's an actual product that is scheduled to go on sale in the New Year. Just don't expect an exciting name. The HC1 is made by Motorola Solutions, which should not to be confused with the other half of what used to be the same company, Motorola Mobility, a handset-maker now owned by Google.

    The device looks a bit like a massively overgrown telephone headset, with overtones of a cycle helmet and maybe a gas mask thrown in. It comes in two parts: there's an adjustable cradle that fixes the device to your head, and the computer itself is in a metal bar that curls around the side of your head. A miniature screen is located at the front, in front of your face. You need to look down slightly to view it. Using voice commands, the user can order the device to open files, check emails or zoom in with the camera to look in closer detail at what's in front of them.

    Hands-free helper

    It's intended for use in working environments where people need to access complex information, and having both hands free is an important priority. "If you imagine somebody up, say, a telegraph pole at the very top, needing to rewire something, they don't really want to be fiddling with a laptop," explains Paul Reed, Motorola's mobile computing product manager. "They can get all the information they need and do the job safely with this device." Potential users include maintenance engineers in remote locations, construction workers, architects and warehouse staff pulling stock off the shelves following complex computerised schedules. Nottingham-based software firm, Ikanos Consulting, is already developing an app for the product called Paramedic Pro. It is designed to let ambulance workers view medical records and stream video back to a hospital to prepare doctors for a patient's arrival.

    Another firm has shown interest in using the headset to help its workers maintain power lines at heights. Its staff are required to climb out of helicopters to do the job - it is easy to understand how a hands-free computer would be useful in these circumstances! Motorola reckons it will sell several thousand of its computer headsets each year at a cost of $3,000 to $4,000 each (1,900 to 2,500). That is approximately the same price as a rugged laptop. But product manager Paul Reed recognises that the device is unlikely to find a mass market. "Its very niche, very specific to certain types of enterprise," he explains. "I doubt if we're going to walk down the High Street wearing these devices in future."

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