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Posts From January, 2015

Connected and smarter products at CES 2015 show how market has transformed 

14 January 2015 09:53:00

Imagination Technologies (IMG.L) reports that an impressively broad range of products at the recent International CES 2015 incorporated one or more of its  technologies, reflecting a growing recognition of Imagination’s leadership capabilities helping to drive industry trends such as higher quality graphics, audio and video; high-performance and highly-efficient processing; and on-chip connectivity. Imagination’s technologies were at the heart of products ranging from the most embedded smart devices for automation and control to the latest high-resolution entertainment products (listed in part below), and featured in notable SoC launches at the show from Actions and RockChip.

Said Tony King-Smith, EVP marketing at Imagination: “It’s been a great start to the year for us. At CES 2015 we saw more ‘smart’ and connected products than ever before using our technologies, including a number of new IoT and wearable products as these segments begin to ramp volume. In home entertainment, CES confirmed there is an overall move toward studio-quality audio and video, migration  of 4K TV to mainstream, and growing interest in 8K, along with the re-emergence of OLED as a potential volume TV display technology. These trends all point to the growing demand for Imagination’s scalable technologies and customisable platforms that enable differentiated products as well as feature and performance leadership.”

Products powered by Imagination’s IP (intellectual property) cores at CES included the latest devices in Imagination’s core markets including smartphones, tablets and TVs, and a wide range of smarter connected consumer devices incorporating Imagination’s technologies for communications across both connectivity and broadcast, wireless audio, automotive and intelligent vision. An increasing number of products also combine multiple Imagination IP technologies including including PowerVR multimedia, MIPS CPUs, Ensigma connectivity, Caskeid audio, HelloSoft VoIP, and FlowCloud device-to-cloud technologies.

Entertainment is better with Imagination
On display at CES were some of the latest TVs with PowerVR technology. Imagination demonstrated next-generation 4K user interfaces on an LG smart TV. In addition Imagination featured up to four HD streams being manipulated using advanced graphics effects to deliver an outstanding user experience thanks to combining PowerVR VPU and GPU capabilities on the Intel-based Google Nexus Player. Also on display were a new TV from S2-Tek that uses a demodulator chip for DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 based on the Ensigma Explorer RPU and a soon-to-be-released OTT streaming device that features a Toshiba chip with PowerVR graphics and video as well as Ensigma Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 connectivity. Imagination’s PowerVR GPU technology was also featured in a number of new TV models from LG announced at the show.

During the show, Google announced that it is working to reimagine the living room alongside an ecosystem of TV partners, highlighting Imagination as key participant in its Android TV initiatives.

The latest smartphones, tablets and smartwatches have Imagination
Many of the latest smartphones and tablets announced at the show make use of Imagination’s high-performance, highly efficient PowerVR graphics and video technologies. Products with PowerVR video included the Acer Iconia One 7 B1-750; E-Fun Nextbook 8”; FuHu DreamTab; HP Stream 8; Huawei Honor 6 Plus and Ascend P7 flagship phones; Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 10” (1051F), 8” (830F) and Pro 13” (1380F); Ramos i9s; SurfTab xintron i 7.0 and more.

Products with PowerVR GPUs included the ASUS Fonepad 7 (FE171CG), MeMo Pad 7 (ME572CL), and Zenfone 2; the extremely thin Dell Venue 8 7000 Series tablet – which won the prestigious 2015 CES “Best of Innovation” award; Lenovo P90 phone; KD Kurio Tab (Kurio Xtrem); Illumination Minion Pad and Tectoy Disney Frozen Tablet among others. In addition, the Nokia N1 tablet was made available for pre-orders during the show, selling 20,000 units in just four minutes, as reported by Nokia on its Weibo social media channel, with around half a million others wanting to buy.

Imagination’s customers also unveiled new chipsets with PowerVR Rogue GPUs for tablets and beyond, including the new Falcon Series ATM9009 from Actions Semiconductor, a 64-bit quad-core solution for high-end Android tablets and OTT set-top boxes; and the RK3368 from RockChip, a 64-bit octa-core SoC for tablets and 4K UHD media players.

New smartwatches featuring Imagination’s IP included the Motorola Moto360 smartwatch which features a PowerVR GPU, and new MIPS-based smartwatches including the GEAK Watch 2 and a new smartwatch from iPPea.

The future of high quality audio with Imagination
Imagination’s Caskeid wireless audio IP platform was demonstrated at CES playing back Meridian MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) content. Caskeid is the first wireless multiroom streaming solution to support MQA, a revolutionary new technology that lets listeners hear sound exactly as it was captured in the studio. (See full press release at: http://www.imgtec.com/news/detail.asp?ID=950)

Imagination also demonstrated the latest audio products using technologies including its Ensigma, MIPS and Caskeid technologies. Among the products demonstrated were the PEAQ Munet Smart PMN300 speaker, the Pure Pop Mini radio, and updates to Pure’s Jongo multiroom wireless speakers including the S3X, T2X, and T4X with new family sound, digital equalization and app assisted setup. Philips also showed the new Philips Spotify wireless multiroom speakers which is based on Imagination’s technologies.

The Geek Wave Portable Music Player, a MIPS-based compact music player designed to deliver the highest-resolution audio available, and funded by a highly successful indiegogo campaign, was also shown at CES.

Driving the latest automotive products with Imagination
New automotive products at CES with Imagination IP inside included the Ford SYNC 3, a connected communications and entertainment system that incorporates TI’s Jacinto automotive SoC featuring a PowerVR GPU.

Other demonstrations included the latest Kanzi dashboard UI from Rightware on platforms with PowerVR GPUs including the Renesas R-Car H2 and TI Jacinto 6 platforms. In addition, QNX Software showed an ADAS system, infotainment system, and digital instrument cluster in a QNX reference vehicle based on a Jeep Wrangler, running on the Jacinto 6 processor.

Green Hills Software announced the addition of virtualized, accelerated graphics support for Renesas R-Car H2 processors in its INTEGRITY Multivisor virtualisation solution, targeting next-generation graphics-intensive automotive applications such as reconfigurable clusters, navigation systems, ADAS and infotainment. The update to INTEGRITY Multivisor leverages work performed by Green Hills Software, Renesas and Imagination.

A connected, smart home with Imagination
CES attendees could see a demonstration of a variety of smart home applications running on the new MIPS-based Securifi Almond-2015 router, through which Zigbee enabled functions can be controlled via a touchscreen or connected app on Android and iOS devices.

Imagination’s FlowCloud device-to-cloud technology was demonstrated in healthcare and smart home applications, including a home heating control system built on the chipKIT WiFire development board which features a MIPS-based PIC32 MCU from Microchip Technology.

In addition, Imagination showed its HelloSoft HD video, VoIP and echo cancellation software integrated with its mobile FlowTalk client software running on devices including Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. The EVQM (Enhanced Voice Quality Management) and DVQM (Dynamic Video Quality Management) algorithms ensured superior voice and video quality even in the crowded wireless environment at the show. Imagination’s WebRTC and VoIP software was also demonstrated embedded in a home gateway and a new MIPS-based IP camera.

Imagination powers the connected experience
Ikanos Communications announced that ST&T, which has a track record of providing home automation products to top global OEMs and carriers including Honeywell, AT&T and NTT, selected its MIPS-based Ikanos Fusiv Vx500 chipset for next-generation high-performance gateway platforms targeting a range of home automation, monitoring and other smart-home applications.

Quantenna Communications and Lantiq announced availability of a joint system solution, leveraging Lantiq’s MIPS-based GRX300 communications processor family, designed to address the Ethernet retail router market. Liquid Image announced that it selected Altair Semiconductor’s 4G chipsets – which are based on MIPS – for the Ego LS Camera developed to live stream videos and images through the Verizon 4G LTE network to social networks and cloud servers.

Also on display at CES was the Chiwawa, a compact Wi-Fi module with a MIPS-based Qualcomm Atheros AR9331 SoC which supports a Linux distribution based on OpenWrt called Linino.

New Imagination technologies will power future consumer products
Imagination showed the power of its new PowerVR imaging framework for Android, highlighting GPU compute features including image processing, live camera stream processing, face detect and fluid dynamics, on phones from Lenovo and tablets from Dell and ASUS. During CES, Luxoft announced that it has implemented its advanced image and video enhancement technology, Pixerra, to leverage Imagination’s PowerVR imaging framework for Android, achieving optimal SoC performance and power-efficiency.

Imagination demonstrated the latest PowerVR Rogue graphics features, including 4K textures, high-triangle throughput, physically based lighting, HDR (high dynamic range) rendering and hardware tessellation on a variety of products including the latest tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, smart TVs and OTT set-top boxes. In addition, Imagination showed hybrid rendering with ray tracing running on a PowerVR ‘Wizard’ development platform. Using the new Huawei Honor 6 phone, Imagination showed how H.264 video can be played back, captured by a PowerVR video encoder and sent over the network to a receiver via Miracast with exceptionally low latency.

Highlighting the benefits of combining PowerVR GPUs and video processors, Imagination showed region of interest encoding with an algorithm using GPU compute for face detection in bandwidth-limited scenarios. Imagination also showed how GPU compute can enable powerful retail analytics functionality in a demonstration using a Vadaro camera with a PowerVR GPU.

The connected products of tomorrow are only as secure as their weakest links, making Imagination’s hardware virtualization based multi-domain security a must for next-generation connected products. Multiple hypervisors including the FEXEROX hypervisor from SELTECH Corp. were demonstrated on a MIPS M5150 platform, showing how virtualisation-based security enables multiple operating systems to run separately and securely on one CPU.

Imagination powers innovation with Creator
The recent announcement of the Creator CI20, the first of a series of advanced low-cost boards targeting developers and featuring not only MIPS and PowerVR technologies, but also Imagination’s FlowCloud IoT infrastructure, continue to stimulate tremendous interest with schools and universities as well as developers and entrepreneurs worldwide. New projects demonstrated or developed on the MIPS Creator CI20 development board at CES included a wide range of Linux desktop and Android applications running at full HD resolution, such as OpenArena and the popular VLC media player.

See Imagination for yourself
The next opportunities to see Imagination will be at Embedded World, Mobile World Congress and the Game Developers Conference (GDC), where further announcements will be made around SoCs and end products using Imagination’s IP.

Cambridge Wireless experts make 2015 predictions 

09 January 2015 04:59:00

Industry experts from Cambridge Wireless (CW), the global community for companies involved in wireless and mobile technologies, have made their personal predictions for 2015. CW Special Interest Group (SIG) Champions comment on a wide range of topics from the evolution of wearable devices and the promised launch of the Apple iWatch to the hype surrounding the Internet of Things and the roll out of LTE.
 
CW also predicts further expansion in 2015 and the last 12 months saw a wide range of new members including Telecom Italia, Huawei, Network Rail Telecom and AstraZeneca. It is calculated that the combined value of some 400 CW members is over $1.5 trillion.
 
Claus Bentsden, head of computational biology Astra Zeneca (Academic / Industry SIG): "It will be really interesting to see if there is a step change wearables in 2015 – the Apple watch launch and evolution will be interesting to follow and there is plenty of room for tech innovation here such as flexible touch screens. Maybe less sexy and consumer oriented – but it feels like proteomics is about to take off big time. Will we finally be able to effectively quantify the proteome at the single cell level? Possible implications include disruptive innovation regarding our understanding of biology and our ability to deliver life changing medicines.  And 2015 will be the year of anything, anywhere, on any device with further steps towards being truly agnostic about where your information is – probably with much more press focusing on security."
 
David Chambers, founder and senior analyst at ThinkSmallCell (Small Cell SIG): "During 2015 mobile network operators will put in place the foundations for phase timing for LTE, to enable full HetNet operation of features such as eICIC, eMBMS and CoMP. This establishes the groundwork for highly efficient densification combining macrocells and small cells to achieve the highest coverage, capacity and spectral efficiency that meets the demands of future wireless data traffic growth."
 
Kevin Coleman, managing director, Alliantus (Business SIG): "Device focus will switch to wearables, especially Apple iWatch."
 
Timothy Cook,  head of strategic business development, Arqiva (Digital Delivery and Content SIG): "4K/UHD standards will be defined."

Marciocci Giuliano, senior staff user experience manager, Qualcomm Technologies (User Experience SIG): "Virtual Reality will heat up as a new medium for delivering interactive experiences, with new players coming onto the market to join Samsung and Oculus VR. This will intensify a discussion on how the new medium can be used to deliver learning, shopping and entertainment and its potential impact for gaming and storytelling."
 
Zahid Ghadialy, managing director, eXplanoTech (Small Cell SIG): "Wearables will continue to disappoint in 2015 and won’t take off in huge numbers."
 
John Haine, innovation coordinator, u-blox UK (Radio Technology SIG): "2015 will be the year where the wireless industry discovers that it needs a new technology for Internet of Things communications.  At the moment there is a hotch-potch of short range solutions that need a smartphone or similar gateway; proprietary systems that have limited functionality and/or coverage and capacity; and cellular, designed for voice and mobile broadband, which is too expensive and uses too much energy for applications that have to live in the field for years or decades.  Attention will suddenly focus on standards for wide-area ‘one hop’ communications that can connect billions of simple sensors and actuators, wherever they are, at low cost and lasting for years on a simple battery."
 
Nick Hunn, CTO, WiFore Consulting (Connected Devices SIG): "The Apple iWatch will arrive, although probably later than expected.  Despite a tsunami of other wearable products appearing, it will take up around 75% of the media coverage and may be the product upon which the market decides whether wearables are worth pursuing."
 
Collette Johnson, business development manager, Healthcare at Plextek Consulting (Healthcare SIG):  "We will see the use of virtual reality in consumer systems for experiential retail."
 
Dana Pavel, general partner, TecVis LP (Big Data SIG): "2015 will bring even more movement towards personal wellbeing, through more sophisticated data gathering and processing systems as well as through increased efforts towards integrating personal healthcare with existing healthcare systems. This could also involve new business models, hopefully some more focused on preserving data ownership, while also enabling more sharing with various parties."
 
Tim Phipps, business development – Wireless Cambridge Consultants (Security and Defence SIG): "5G will be claimed to include faster-than-light artificial intelligence / technology innovation and convergence will drive a big shake-out in the wireless networks industry; small cells, SDN, SDR and 5G will lead to dramatic new winners and losers."
 
Anthony Rix, senior consultant, TTP Group (Connected Devices SIG): "he current Silicon Valley VC tech funding bubble will burst in 2015."
 
Dirk Trossen, principal engineer, InterDigital Europe (Virtual Networks SIG):  "There will be a deflation of the IoT hype with the realisation of major limitations to delivering the IoT. This is despite many expecting 2015 to be the year of IoT."
 

Intel CEO outlines future of computing 

08 January 2015 09:08:00

Intel has announced a number of technology advancements and initiatives aimed at accelerating computing into the next dimension. The announcements include the Intel Curie module, a button-sized hardware product for wearable solutions; new applications for Intel RealSense cameras spanning robots, flying multi-copter drones and 3-D immersive experiences; and a broad, new Diversity in Technology initiative, which includes a $300m investment to encourage more diversity at Intel and within the technology industry at large.

“The rise of new personal computing experiences, intelligent and connected devices, and the wearable revolution are redefining the relationship between consumers and technology,” said Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO. “Our goal with Intel technology is to help solve real problems and enable experiences that are truly desired by people and businesses. In order to do this, we must also do more to lead the growth of diversity and inclusion within the technology industry. Women and under-represented minorities will continue to play a greater role as consumers, influencers, creators and leaders.”  

Krzanich made the announcements during a keynote address at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show. He also unveiled a wearable device collaboration with Oakley, a product design and sport performance eyewear brand, a 3-D collaboration with HP, and highlighted True Key, a new cross-platform application by Intel Security that uses personal factors like the face, device or fingerprint to make logging in easier and safer.

The Wearable Revolution

The growth of wearable technology is creating a new playing field for innovation. Krzanich disclosed plans for the Intel Curie module, a tiny hardware product based on the company’s first purpose-built system-on-chip (SoC) for wearable devices. The module is scheduled to ship in the second half of this year and includes the Intel Quark SE SoC, Bluetooth low-energy radio, sensors and battery charging.

Intel has been actively pursuing the wearable technology segment, and since Krzanich revealed several projects here last year, the company has announced multiple products and initiatives with different fashion, fitness and lifestyle brands. These efforts include Basis Peak, Fossil Group, Luxottica Group, MICA and Opening Ceremony, SMS Audio, and the Intel “Make it Wearable” challenge.

Building on this work, Intel and Oakley announced a strategic wearables collaboration. Oakley is the first Luxottica Group brand that Intel is working with to fuse premium, luxury and sports eyewear with smart technology. Krzanich was joined on stage by Colin Baden, CEO of Oakley, who said the companies are working on an intelligent product, available later this year, designed to enhance athletes’ performance.

Krzanich also highlighted Nixie, the 2014 “Make it Wearable” challenge winner and the first wearable camera that can fly. Nixie rests on your wrist like a bracelet, then unfolds and takes flight on cue to take the perfect shot of you in the moment. Krzanich welcomed Nixie founders Christoph Kohstall and Jelena Jovanovic to the stage to discuss the Intel “Make it Wearable” challenge and highlighted the opportunity it offers to innovators and entrepreneurs. Krzanich and the founders also posed for the first Nixie flying photo. Krzanich went on to say that Intel will sponsor the Intel “Make it Wearable” challenge again later this year.

Accelerating Diversity in Technology

Krzanich, who acknowledged a recent confluence of events related to women and under-represented minorities, announced the Diversity in Technology initiative.

To support this initiative, Intel has set a bold new hiring and retention goal to achieve full representation of women and under-represented minorities at Intel by 2020. Full representation means Intel’s U.S. workforce will be more representative of the talent available in America, including more balanced representation in senior leadership positions.

Intel also plans to invest $300m to help build a pipeline of female and under-represented engineers and computer scientists; to actively support hiring and retaining more women and under-represented minorities; and to fund programs to support more positive representation within the technology and gaming industries.

“We’re calling on our industry to again make the seemingly impossible possible by making a commitment to real change and clarity in our goals,” said Krzanich. “Without a workforce that more closely mirrors the population, we are missing opportunities, including not understanding and designing for our own customers.”

Intel plans to engage with several partners in the industry to support, enhance or create new programs for this initiative, including the International Game Developers Association, the E-Sports League, the National Center for Women in Technology, the CyberSmile Foundation, the Feminist Frequency, and Rainbow PUSH. The company also plans to deepen its engagement with primary education programs focused on underserved areas and expanding its collaborations with computer science and engineering programs at higher education institutions, including minority-serving institutions.

Computing Unleashed

Up until now, computing has largely been defined by human interaction with a screen, keyboard and mouse. Krzanich highlighted several new technologies and real-world applications that will usher computing into a 3-D world and also free the experience from wires and passwords. 

Krzanich demonstrated a range of capabilities that will be introduced in products by the end of the year, including True Key, a newly announced cross-platform application by Intel Security to address the hassle of passwords. The True Key application uses personal factors like the face, device or fingerprint to make logging in easier and safer. True Key is supported on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and across all your favorite browsers. It will also be preinstalled on devices from HP and Lenovo and a part of McAfee LiveSafe in the coming months. 

Krzanich also highlighted new wireless charging collaborations including Hilton, Jaguar Land Rover, San Francisco International Airport and Marriott. These collaborators are planning wireless charging pilots, development and deployments including Marriott, which plans to pilot wireless charging capabilities across the Marriott portfolio of brands, including JW Marriott, Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard and Residence Inn.

Intel’s CEO said Intel RealSense cameras and new immersive applications can be found in a growing number of 2 in 1s, tablets, notebooks and all-in-one PCs, including many powered by the new 5th generation Intel Core processors available this quarter. 

As computing moves further into the third dimension, Krzanich welcomed Dion Weisler, executive vice president of HP’s printer and personal system’s business. Weisler discussed how HP is working to enable a blended reality ecosystem and announced that the Intel Core i7 processor will power the company’s forthcoming HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, engineered to resolve critical gaps in speed, quality and cost. Weisler said the added performance and scale of Intel’s technology is critical to realize the full potential of 3-D printing.

Intelligence Everywhere

Krzanich highlighted a number of areas where the rise of connected computing intelligence is helping to reshape many facets of people’s daily lives. He showcased practical, real-world examples for robots and multi-copter drones and said that Intel RealSense cameras can provide intuitive, sight-based collision avoidance capabilities for solving complex problems. For example, Ascending Technologies* is targeting to use Intel RealSense cameras to develop intelligent and safer multi-copter drones, and iRobot is collaborating with Intel to explore this technology for its intelligent robotic platforms. 

 

Michelle WinnyMichelle Winny

With a combination of news, products and feature articles, Michelle provides up-to-wire commentary on new technology and legislation. Coupled with in depth coverage for specifiers and purchasers of electronic components and equipment, Michelle brings everything within the electronics market directly to her readers.