Author: Mike Magee

Smartwatches drive wearable growth

iType SmartwatchA report from market research company IDC said that by 2019, 200 million wearables will ship.

And the driver for the growth is the smartwatch, according to the report.

IDC estimates that 34.3 million smartwatches will ship next year, while by 2019 shipments will amount to 88.3 million units, amounting for a large percentage of the total wearable market.

While the jury is still out on how successful smatwatches will be, Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC, said that smartwatches have changed from being extensions of a smartphone to “wearable computers capable of communications, notifications, applications and numerous other functionalities”. He continued: “The smartwatch we have today will look nothing like the smartwatch we will see in the future”.

He said that cellular connectivity and health censors “will change the game”.

IDC believes that Apple’s watchOS will lead the field from now until 2019. The Android OS will be “a distant second”, while the market will include traditional watch makers like Fossil and Tag Heuer.

Nano tech promises laser printer resolution revolution

3D printer - Wikimedia CommonsScientists at the Technical University of Denmark said they’ve made a major nanotechnology breakthrough which will “revolutionise” laser printing technology.

The technique will allow high resolution data and colour images of microscopic dimensions and very high resolutions.

The Danish scientists promise resolutions of 127,000 dots per inch (DPI) compared to today’s omnipresent 300 DPI.

The breakthrough has been patented by the boffins who intend to develop the technology to replace the current laser printers we’re using.

Professor Anders Kristensen said it will mean saving data that’s invisible to human eyes. “This includes serial numbers or bar codes of products and other information. The technology can also be used to combat fraud and forgery as the products will be labelled in a way that makes them very difficult to reproduce,” he said.

The good professor said a number of companies have already expressed interest in the technology.

Munich to be the centre for IBM things

IBM logoBig Blue said that it has established an internet of things (iOt) centre in Munich.

The centre will be the HQ for its Watson iOt unit and is intended to bring 1,000 IBM developers, consultants researchers and designers to work on cognitive computing and the internet of things.

IBM said it is its biggest investment in Europe for over 20 years.

The company said the centre will offer Watson APIs and services on its iOt Cloud Platform.

The idea is that academics, customers, startups and silicon and device vendors to direct access its cloud based services. It expects automotive, electronics, healthcare, insurance and industrial manufacturers to take advantage of the centre.

IBM believes that although the internet of things will become the biggest data mountain on the planet, 90 percent of that data just hangs around, unused.

European Union proposes Facebook shake up

European flagA committee in the European Parliament is considering changing existing legislation so children under the age of 16 would need parental permission to use Facebook, Twitter and the like. There’s a vote to include a late amendment to a bill  this coming Thursday.

The move is intended to protect a child’s personal data. The existing legislation applies to anyone under the age of 13.

But analysts have suggested that such a move would stop young people from learning stuff.

Facebook and other vendors are engaged in a frantic lobbying effort to throw out an amendment that could become law in just a few days.

The amendment has been proposed primarily to stop companies like Facebook from harvesting childrens’ data and using it to sell stuff to them.

Facebook doesn’t exactly saw how it uses peoples’ data but it seems pretty good at popping up ads based on the type of content a person uses.

Qualcomm resists break up

Paul Jacobs, QualcommAn attempt by hedge fund Jana Partners to force Qualcomm to split up the company has failed.

Jana wanted Qualcomm to split apart its semiconductor and tech licensing businesses but a report by the board said the current setup is a strategic part of its business.

It also said that earnings have improved in the current financial quarter as a result of sales of 3G and 4G devices – while cost savings it has made are also kicking in.

Jana had asked for the review in April which Qualcomm has just concluded. A committee was formed with two people nominated by Jana.

Qualcomm is currently being investigated by Chinese antitrust authorities – it has a large market share in mainland China.

Bluetooth low energy beacons will have their day

cashA report said that Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons will hit the mainstream market.

ABI Research said that in the third quarter of this year some big names bought into the technology.

Those include McDonalds, Carrefour, IKEA, Pizza Hut, and H&M.

Another trend leading to their use is that Group, Facebook and Google are bringing their beacon strategies to market.

Patrick Connolly, a principal analyst at ABI, said that most vendors are shipping multiple contracts in the 10s of thousands.

There’s evidence of a strong push for the beacons in India too, he said. InteractionOne has just deployed a 1,000 beacon network.

Applications straddle more than 20 vertical markts including industrial, vending, hospitals and airports.

Smartphone payments soar

HTC smartphoneIndustry analyst company Gartner said it believed that by 2018 half of the population in Japan, the USA and some Western European countries will use smartphones or wearables to pay for their stuff.

The development of apps, devices and mobile services are changing traditional models, according to principal research analyst Amanda Sabia.

“Product managers must understand who their customers are for these new devices and services, and how the products are being used. Knowing your customer is imperative in order to capture a fair share of spending opportunities in this dynamic marketplace,” she said.

She said there are three types of mobile payments – by smartphones, by branded mobile wallets and mobile vendors from High Street shops like Starbucks.

But mobile payments using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology will be limited because theres a lack of agreement between shops and financial organisations.

Sabia also said that by 2018, in mature markets, 75 percent of TV content will be watched through application based services, rather than using pay TV models

Websites will “know” when you’re cross

AngerA Brigham Young University (BYU) professor reckons that the way you use your optical device (mouse) can reveal just how you’re feeling, whether it’s blue, angry, frustrated or confused.

Professor Jeffrey Jenkins said that he and his colleagues can get enough data from people’s movement of the cursor to tell if you’re angry or blue.

He said that the technology will be built into future websites. “Websites can go beyond just processing information, but they can sense you,” he said. “They can understand not just what you’re providing but what you’re feeling.”

So how does that work? Jenkins said that when people are upset or confuddled, the mouse movements become jagged and sudden. And if you’ve got negative vibes, you move a mouse slower.

He said: “It’s counter intuitive; people might think, ‘When I’m frustrated, I start moving the mouse faster’”, Jenkins said. “Well, no, you actually start moving slower.

The professor believes that the same concept can be applied to swipes and taps on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

He has patented the technology and launched a startup company.

Original Fairchild Semi merger is ON

Silicon wafer - Wikimedia Commons -The unsolicited proposal by ON Semiconductor to buy the grand daddy of semiconductors, Fairchild, was rejected by the board and the original offer looks set to proceed.

Fairchild received what it described as an unsolicited offer from ON to buy it for $21.70 per share.

But Fairchild had already agreed to be bought by ON Semi for $20 a share, and it looks like that deal will stand.

In a statement, Fairchild Semi said its board of directors had conducted a review with its lawyers and its financial advisors at Goldman Sachs.

Fairchild said it had “concluded that the unsolicited proposal received on December 7 2015 to acquire Fairchild for $21.70 per share in cash would not reasonably be expected to result in a ‘superior proposal’”.

The board said that it would stick by the original agreement.

In a filing with the SEC, Fairchild said it considered the first offer was better because it offered “greater closing certainty”.

Twitter warns people about state hacking

TwitterSocial media chatterer Twitter has warned some people that use its software that state sponsored hackers might have tried to pry open their accounts in a search for data.

Twitter hasn’t issued this kind of warning before, but Facebook and Google have both alerted people that they may be under state based attack.

Twitter didn’t say which state is behind the hacking but it’s believed that all the major powers indulge in this type of activity.

Only a small group of people were warned of the attacks by Twitter and it’s not entirely clear whether the state, or states, obtained anything of very much interest.

A Canadian organisation called Coldhawk told Reuters it had been warned by Twitter but it doesn’t appear to be particularly worried by the alert.