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
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.
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.
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
apps in the clouds
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
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
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.