2012 - The Year to Come (Part 1)

4/25/2012 5:23:23 PM

Folding phone displays. 3D without glass. Mobile Internet with 100 MBit/sec. 1TB SSDs. Whatever there is, CHIP shows you the exciting trends to expect in the New Year. Buckle up, folks!

This year, you may be able to fold your smartphone’s display in any way you want. Light-field cameras will be able to turn your blurry images sharp, even after taking it. The forerunners of some other trends are already here: the first Ultrabook notebooks – thin as tablets and costing less than $980 – is already available in the market last Christmas. Intel now intend to present the second-generation soon come springtime. Toshiba wants to make 3D TVs even more suitable for the masses – by getting rid of 3D glasses. The first TV unit of the new ZL2 series will be available in the markets come December. Trends that were almost behind time will gain an overdue acceptance by the year: LTE will come into the cities and provide 100MBits/sec connectivity on mobile devices; hard disk drives will increase to 5-terabytes and SSDs to one terabyte; single-lens reflex cameras will be equipped with OLED-viewfinders and 1GB per second transfer rate can be achieved over WLAN. It’s an exciting year ahead, so here’s a look at it.


Notebooks with tablet features

Description: Notebooks with tablet features

Intel was never in competition with Apple in the tablet market. The chip manufacturer went a different route to design a new class of gadgets instead: Ultrabooks. The slim and light notebooks, which are similar to Apple’s MacBook Air, would cost lower than $980. To compete with the growing tablet deluge, Intel designed the Ultrabook to include known features of the tablet such as ‘Instant On’ and ‘Instant Connect’. The Ultrabook is intented to boot within a few seconds as it is flipped open, and likewise connect quickly to the next WLAN. The second generation of Ultrabooks will come in 2012. The Ivy Bridge chip, shrunk to a 22 nanometres transistor width, will replace the Sandy Bridge ones. It will have increased graphic performances by 30 percent and CPU performances by 20 percent, and still be energy-saving. USB 3.0 and PCI Express 3.0 are a must in it. There would not be any optical drives in Ultrabooks – otherwise, maintaining the 15mm thickness would be a difficult thing. No to worry – after all, tablets don’t have drivers either.

Flexible OLED displays

Flexible Mobiles Rule the Market

Flexible, foldable screens were presented to us at trade fairs for years. They are, hitherto, not yet available to us commercially. But this may be the end of the wait, at least as far as Samsung is concerned: the Korean manufacturers now wish to bring the first FOLED smartphone to the market in mid 2012. The screens developed by Samsung are 0.27mm slim and offers a resolution 800 x 480 pixels on a 4.5-inch display. They hold a great advantage; contrary to standard screens, FOLEDS can not only bend, but are also shock-proof. The active layer with the organic light-emitting diode is extremely sensitive – even the smallest amount of oxygen and moisture can damage the colour. Whereas in the case of standard OLEDs where the colour is coated with two glass plates, the developers here had to used mixed plastic – with silicon and silicon nitride. The protection was very penetrable in all designs till now, which resulted in the loss of brilliance and colour of the display. Manufacturers are tackling the problem by applying several thin layers on the OLED instead of a thick one. Besides Samsung, companies like LG, Sony and Nokia are working on FOLED products such as retractable notebooks and rollable displays.

FOLED Smartphone

Flexible Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (FOLED) Displays are coated with a multi-layered plastic to prevent the OLED display from breaking, effectively protecting it from environmental and physical effects.

Description: FOLED Smartphone


Boot to Gecko – One app, all systems

Whether it’s the iOS, Android or Windows Phone 7, each platform has its own ecosystem. It is profitable business for manufacturers. Developers, however, have to customise their applications for each system and customers are bound to a single platform if they don’t wish to all their applications with one exchange. Boot to Gecko, an operating system developed by Mozilla, should lever out this business model of platform providers as it transfers the apps on network. The system would work only as a type of browser and serves as an interface between smartphones and app-providers. With Boot to Gecko (or B2G), Mozilla is not in direct competition to the established system, but is instead developing standardised web-APIs which can be integrated under a free license from every browser. The central element of the system is the Gecko Engine known from Firefox, which is installed on an Android kernel. The project is carried out on a elementary basis; the B2G source code and installation manual for the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the Nexus S are already available on wiki.mozilla.org/B2G

Transfer apps in the clouds

With Boot to Gecko, Mozilla wants to establish new Web-APIs, with which programmers can offer their apps independent of systems such as iOS and Android on any smartphone.

Description: Transfer apps in the clouds

NFC applications – Pay via mobile

Description: NFC applications – Pay via mobile

Near Field Communications (NFC) has been a significant wireless standard for mobile products since a long time ago. Smartphones like the Nexus S are already supporting the transmission. With NFC, devices can exchange information with corresponding chips at a short distance of a just a few centimeters. It would be introduced to the masses only in 2012 because some of its applications are still unrealised. With the Android 4.0 service beam, Google has shown what the technology is capable of. If you bring two Galaxy Nexus smartphones together, they can exchange Google Map routes and contacts over the NFC chips. Further application of the technology is also apparent – German saving banks intend to exchange all the 45 million EC-cards with NFC by the end of 2012 as a pioneer of payment over mobile. Google themselves had announced Google Wallet, an Android app that will make use of NFC for payment at stores.

Quad-Core tablets - Mobility and power

Description: Quad-Core tablets - Mobility and power

As of now, the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core mobile processor (named the Kal-El Series) has only seen one demo showcasing its graphics capability. Titled Glowball, the demo show a glowing ball rolling around a darkened circus-themed room, effectively demonstrating how impressively Tegra 3 can smoothly compute lighting effects and object physics. The cores, clocked at a maximum of 1.5GHz, will be pitting its strengths in graphics-intensive games. HD videos can therefore be played silk-smoothly. There is a so-called fifth companion core on the Tegra 3 for mal synchronisation or music, which runs at 500MHz and consumes less energy. The ASUS Transformer Prime would be the first Tegra 3 tablet of the first quarter.

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