Friday, January 20, 2012

CES 2012: It is all about motion, touch and sound

Joanne Itow, MD, Semico Research

USA: As usual, CES was huge and overwhelming …too much to see, too little time. Actually, there may have been enough time, but my feet gave out before I could get to everything. The Qualcomm booth wasn’t really a booth; it was a mini-city with 2-story briefing rooms. From what I did see, the big trend in consumer electronics this year will be in touch, voice and motion sensing. All the same, products were on display, i.e., TVs, tablets, and smartphones, they’re just doing a lot more than they did last year.

It all started for me at the Qualcomm morning keynote. Banking on a commitment from Microsoft, Qualcomm is supporting Windows 8 along with ARM technology. Their move into the x86 arena was showcased on stage with a demo tablet powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 running Windows 8. Furthering Qualcomm’s expansion into the home, Lenovo showed off their SmartTV powered by Snapdragon with voice activated remote control. Can they truly get an instant on device?

Walking the floor there were many booths displaying motion sensing software. Soon, our online shopping experience will be improved as we virtually try on clothes using motion sensing devices that allow us to view the item’s fit as well as the color.

Two items that I think will change our ‘relationship’ with electronic devices include Toshiba’s TransferJetTM technology and a nano coating from P2i Ltd, which makes our electronic devices waterproof. First, a recap of P2i’s nano coating technology.

P2i Ltd has developed a technology that attaches a nanometer-thin polymer layer over the entire surface of a product, for example a semiconductor chip or the entire board. The layer protects the device from moisture so that when liquids come into contact with it, they form beads and simply run off. Their demo consisted of two tissues (yes, a Kleenex tissue), one that was coated and one that wasn’t. They both looked the same, they felt the same but the water on the coated tissue formed into little beads that rolled right off. When it rolled onto the uncoated tissue, it soaked right in.

The secret to P2i’s technology is a special application process which utilizes pulsed ionized gas, that is created within a vacuum chamber to attach the polymer layer.

Aridion is the P2i product line designed for electronic products. It’s an invisible liquid repellent coating that does not affect the working components of electronics and it maintains the look, feel and functionality of the device. This could substantially reduce warranty failure and repair costs of our electronic devices. Just think, we can drop our cell phone into the toilet and it would still work. But who’s going to reach in and get it? It’s a much nicer option than the protective bags that some exhibitors were trying to sell.

Toshiba America also intrigued me with their single-chip LSI RFCMOS solution to support TransferJet. TransferJet was developed to transfer digital content via close proximity as a download file or streaming. It has the capability of transferring files seven times faster than traditional Wi-Fi with a physical layer transmission rate of 560 Mbps and a throughput of 375 Mbps.Source: Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc./Semico, USA.

An example of the speed, one-hour of TV programming can be transferred in just a few seconds. Short transmission distance reduces the risk of hacking without the need for complex security.

All in all, I don’t think there was a revolutionary new electronic device at CES this year but the enhancements have already enticed me, and probably everyone else, to a product upgrade very soon.

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