Tag: 3D

UK 4G spectrum sale delayed

Britain’s largest ever spectrum auction has been delayed as carriers O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere hinted at legal action.

The three have the most to gain from a delayed 4G sale and have told Ofcom that they may go to court if the watchdog announced terms of the auction this month as planned.

The airwaves are being sold as 4G, and licences will be reserved for mobile phone carriers to help cope with mobile broadband demand.

Ofcom was expected to publish the terms of the auction this month, but according to The Guardian there were ” veiled threats of legal action” from a number of carriers and it will not now be ready until November. This means the auction can no longer begin as planned.

But a court case would slow things down even more and could be a killer for the smaller mobile carriers such as Three.

Part of the problem is that the older companies have spare spectrum which Ofcom in January gave them permission to reallocate to data.  However the smaller carriers don’t.

Three had to compete by offering unlimited broadband access to customers for a fixed monthly fee. This has stuffed up its capacity to expand its data traffic as fast as its rivals.

The government wants things to move fast too. One of its problems is that it promised universal broadband access by the next election, expected in April 2015. Mobile would be the only way to fudge this promise by offering mobile broadband in the place of wired connections.

It also would like to have the cash that such an auction would generate.

Ofcom said that there were a number of technical and competition issues such as Freeview which needs to be relocated before 4G can be rolled out. It seems no matter where it’s taking hold, spectrum auctions are a messy business.

But David Dyson, chief executive of Three warned that any significant delay would further weaken competition to the detriment of UK consumers. He called on Ofcom and the government to develop a clear plan to make sure that everything does not go pear shaped because of the narrow self interest of the bigger telcos. 

Mobile 3D chip wows the investors

Ident Technology, a small German outfit which makes a mobile and gesture-control chip, has just got a shedload of cash from the investment arm of electronics and technology company Bosch.

Robert Bosch Venture Capital, is apparently very interested in Ident’s new chip for 3D gestural control.

Dubbed the The GestIC, the chip is a highly integrated system-on-chip for a wide range of consumer electronics devices, including smartphones, tablets, ereaders, digital cameras and video game equipment.

According to Ident, it uses something called e-field technology that allows for real-time tracking of hand and finger movements in front of a device or display.

It can run on a variety of user interfaces including one-dimensional touchscreens, 3D gesture recognition and dynamic positional input of a user’s hand in free space.

The other plus is that is low power consumption which means that it can be shoved on a mobile device and not require too much juice.

Dieter Kraft, Investment Partner for the European Region of RBVC, said that the investors were impressed by the technological and commercial achievements of IdentT.

He used the world “groundbreaking” which was worrying, but talked about how the chip would make important contributions to the world of human machine interfaces. It proves, Kraft said that magically simple user interfaces are not only the territory of a few large companies.

Investors MIG Funds and Danube Equity also took part in the funding which gave the outfit about $10 million.

Sony admits 3D failing

Sony’s Australian managing director has admitted that 3D technology has failed to live up to expectations, was rushed to market and has lost the support of broadcasters.

For the last few years telly makers have been trying to convince the world and its dog that upgrading their perfectly good flat screen TVs to new sets that support 3D is a good idea.

But few studios have been bothered in creating decent 3D content and have only been offering 2D films converted to 3D in post production.

Sony Australia managing director Carl Rose told Fairfax Media that 3D TV in the home has so far failed to live up to consumer and manufacturers’ expectations.

He said that judging the success of 3D by TV sales figures was “misleading” because most premium brand sets, sized 42-inch and above, supported 3D by default. Sales of 3D-enabled sets are rising but this is not necessarily driven by demand for 3D.

About the only the only 3D thing that Sony has done well with is Playstation 3 games.

Broadcasters had a crack at 3D for sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup and State of Origin, but Oz broadcasters removed the 3D TV transmitters from transmission towers in Australian capital cities and the communications regulator has not received further applications for 3D TV trials.

Many sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup will be filmed in 3D but not shown in 3D on Australian TVs. The London 2012 Olympic Games will be filmed in 3D but may not be broadcast that way in Australia. In the UK, as with previous promotions, pubs won’t be packed with revellers wearing the anti-social glasses to watch the Dog and Death’s telly.

Rose was not clear whose fault it all was. There are TV manufacturers, which over hyped 3D and the studios, which failed to create enough compelling 3D content. It was probably both.

He said that he didn’t think Sony could’ve done much more. It developed the 3D technology centre in Hollywood to train all the broadcast camera operators for most of the broadcasters in the world.

Of course, Sony is well positioned at every level for profit if a 3D boom takes off. It has a stake in Blu-ray, the PS3, manufacturing equipment, makes 3D TV sets, trains staff and puts together the studio kit that enables 3D production, as well as 3D studios themselves.

It might have just been poor timing. Broadcasters were struggling with their own financial pressures. Or it could be the public is aware the technology is being foisted upon them.

Four camera system could mean end for 3D glasses

Engineers have developed a four camera system which will allow live transmissions of glasses-free 3D.

With 3D failing to set the world alight despite the best attempts of manufacturers to convince us that we need it in our lives and our sitting rooms, glasses-free offers some hope for the technology.

While it is currently necessary to don the rather annoying spectacles in order to watch 3D programmes, it is hoped that in the next few years the will be obsolete.  In fact many think that the popularity of the technology actually hinges on glasses-free.

With this in mind, much work is going on to ensure that 3D technologies support glasses-free developments.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute of Telecommunications have devised a system where it will be possible to view 3D footage without the cumbersome glasses, with live transmissions also possible.

For a standard 3D display autostereoscopic displays coated with special optical foils are needed to create a different view for each eye. But to allow for different viewing positions,  displays must use from five to 10 different views of an image, and they say that this number will be even higher in the future.

Normally stereo productions have two views, from which depth information is extracted before transmission. However the researchers have been using a four camera system to provide the various viewing points.

This is problematic in that it takes a long time to calibrate such a complex stereo production, which can take days.

Now though they are able to reduce this timeframe to around 30 minutes with a new assistance system.  This is done by figuring out in real time which detects features in each picture and positions all of the angles of the cameras accordingly, calibrating so that objects can be focused on.

While some small faults in focus can remain, these can easily be fixed electronically using a digital zoom.  This is done in real time opening up the possibility for real time live transmissions.

Clearly four cameras worth of information is a lot to process and send in a transmission, so the team are also working on a video decoding system which will compressing the huge amounts of data.

Though the four camera system is at prototype stage at this point it means that chucking the 3D glasses in the bin might not be so far away.

Nintendo considers dropping 3D from 3DS

Nintendo’s tragicomic handling of its 3DS has taken yet another lurch into the ridiculous, with reports that it may actually bin its once-vaunted 3D functionality for the flagship device.

According to French website 01net, via Reuters, a number of sources are claiming Nintendo will “de-emphasize the significance” of 3D in a forthcoming update to the device.  As marketing strategies for a flagship 3D device go, we must say that dropping the 3D bit is unconventional.

Having pushed the product almost solely on its 3D credentials, it would be an awkward acknowledgement of the failure of the technology to attract customers.  Obviously lessons are still being learned from the VirtualBoy many years ago.

As Nintendo has found out, having only a few decent games to back up the gimmick of retina-thumping 3D has not exactly gone to plan, so it seems that it’s discussing drastic measures.

Since acknowledging that the 3DS has hurt overall profits due to plummeting sales, Nintendo has been running a whole gamut of wacky schemes recently to beg customers to buy its device.

Having already tried to shore up dwindling sales with such innovative marketing strategies as selling it for much, much cheaper and making a red one, Nintendo has outdone itself with its latest attempt.

Apparently the latest hare-brained scheme is to add a joystick. 

Whether this will have customer queuing around the block is unclear, but we bet that it won’t have Sony too worried with the upcoming release of its own gaming device. There is an argument that it should. Handheld gaming as a whole is in an interesting predicament against casual gaming on phones.

While Nintendo has reportedly declined to comment, there are likely to be further details announced at a 3DS trade show on 13 September.

Sony invents paparazzi wet dream

Voyeurs everywhere, rejoice! Sony has announced what it claims is the first ever pair of binoculars which let you record in HD.

Broken your leg for the summer? No problem. Whip out the DEV-3 or DEV-5 binoculars and you too can emulate your favourite stars like L.B. Jeffries. Check up on those neighbours in a heatwave and make sure the otherwise innocuous Mr. Thorwald is taking care of his ill wife. Miss Lonelyheart’s worth a peek too.

Sony would rather Bill Oddie than a reason for the Old Bill. Andy Bubala, who runs the camcorder business at Sony Electronics, said in a statement that the new devices will feel heaven-sent for birdwatchers to take their time focusing on Crested Tits and capturing them in HD for the record.

The company has kindly included what it calls a “stealth” design which means you’re less likely to be spotted hanging out in the bushes.

The DEV-5 has a digital zoom at over 10x, with a total magnification range from 0.9x up to 20x digital. The DEV-3 can has a maximum magnification of 10x optical, though if you feel like it’s worth it, you can also record in stereoscopic 3D at 5.4x optical.

There is an electronic auto focus available along with Sony’s Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation, the same sort of thing that will be found on the Hnadycam and Cybershot.

Re-living that fateful, terrifying hot summer is easy, as the DEV-3 and DEV-5 can be linked up to any HD TV with HDMI input for images. Sony claims the 3D works on any compatible TV, though of course it would prefer if it were a Bravia

You’ll be able to pick up the DEV-3 for $1400 and the DEV-5 for $2000 from Sony’s web store and other Sony partners this November.

Public expects massive price premium for 3D TVs

Those who are eyeing up a new 3D TV in Dixons have been warned:  it will come at a significant extra cost compared to a normal top of the range TV.

According to analysts at Strategic Analytics you should be prepared to shell out a premium of over 50 percent extra should you wish to get your hands on a 3D set.

Research has shown that consumers are expecting to have to pay through the nose for a 3D TV with the average price expected to be $1,224.  That is compared to $785 earmarked for a HDTV.

In Europe there is an expectation to pay a premium ranging of up to 54 percent.  In the US meanwhile the figure is higher, with an expected 56 percent extra whacked on top.

Of course a premium is expected on any nascent technology but this is some fee considering the lingering doubts that have been dogging 3D.

Aside from the concerns over the necessity of glasses for the next few years, there are fears over a severe lack of quality content coming through to warrant the extra cash.  Just ask DreamWorks supremo Jeffrey Katzenberg.  Unless The Smurfs in 3D is your ideal Saturday night in, then it looks like that well worn Avatar DVD might not go back on the shelves just yet.

Though the workings of the technology are admittedly different, as Nintendo has found out to its embarrassment, 3D is not the magic wand that manufacturers are peddling or hoping it to be.

Only 11.5 percent of customers are somewhat or very likely to splash out on a 3D set.

In Germany this comes down to a mere nine percent who have shown any interest in purchasing when asked, with just 6.9 percent in the UK.

So not exactly compelling figures for a shopping stampede.

Senior analyst Jia Wu believes that the figures show that “those who are thinking of buying the product attach significant additional value to a 3DTV relative to a regular HDTV”.

But with so many marks against 3D could we not say that it is actually the manufacturers and vendors who have placed this additional value?  And not, in fact, the customers who have been told they will have to pay extra dosh to upgrade.

It is well known that, with developed markets having largely upgraded to flatscreens from CRT, many manufacturers are looking to find a new way to persuade the public to part with their cash.

But our money is on it being the 3D makers, and not a bewildered public, who are driving the expectation that 3D means handing over extra cash.

3DS sells for less than Nintendo DSi XL

Thanks to Tesco, you can pick up cutting-edge technology in the Nintendo 3DS for as little as £115, along with a couple packets of Migraleve on your way out.

Amazon has matched the offer. And, reports NowGamer, the price slash means you could potentially pick up a 3DS for just £50 with a DS XL trade in. 

Will it boost sales? We can’t know yet. The 3DS has been plagued with reports of nausea  since launch. Despite GAME’s PR outright denying returns, we know as fact that major electronics retailers were seeing a lot of disgruntled customers bringing their toys back. 

At least the 3DS is still selling at a profit per item. The frankly shoddy sales were what led to the price cut and a red-faced Nintendo boss profusely apologising to existing customers. But the bill of materials for the 3DS is just $100.71, according to analysts at IHS. 

If sales don’t pick up, Nintendo won’t have much choice but to give the 3DS away for next to nothing. But some gamers who don’t have a DS already will be buoyed by the opportunity to pick up one on the cheap in the 3DS, even if they have no interest in using the disastrous 3D slider.

In fact, the cuts mean the 3D device which was supposed to be a flagship handheld is now selling for £65 less than the DSi XL, which Nintendo hoped to oust. 

Nvidia predicts higher sales

The maker of graphics chips, Nvidia is forecasting higher sales than analysts predicted.

It appears that the outfit has stolen some market share from its rival AMD and stock soared as much as 21 percent in extended trading.

Nvidia said in a statement that third-quarter revenue will rise four percent to six percent from the second quarter. This means that it flogged more than $1.08 billion of its products. Wall Street thought that it would make only $1.05 billion.

Mercury Research analyst Dean McCarron told Bloomberg that Nvidia was wooing customers away from AMD having invested in a large supply of Woo in recent months.

The outfit has started winning more orders for its Tegra processors from makers of mobile phones. Samsung sung that it would use the Tegra 2 processor in its new Galaxy R smartphone for the first time. Motorola and LG have also signed up.

Patrick Wang, an analyst at Evercore Partners said that in the last month things changed for Nvidia. It was really aggressive in shipments of discrete graphics chips for desktops.

This is ironic as Nvidia Chief Executive Officer Jen-Hsun Huang has stated that he wants to lessen Nvidia’s dependence on chips used in PCs and push into mobile phones and tablet gear.

But the boost in PC sales is more to do with Nvidia’s success at elbowing its way into developing markets. PC sales have been slack in the US and EU but have been growing like crazy in India and China. 

Intel is game for a laugh

Chipzilla has made an odd purchase and written a cheque for a German game engine writer Trinigy.

Intel has a games tool maker called Havok although few are quite sure why.

Havok’s technology portfolio will now mean that Intel has rendering capabilities. Havok will consolidate its WYSIYWG editors and tools with the Trinigy team.

Trinigy’s Vision Game Engine has been used by a broad range of games and simulation companies and is available on all major platforms, including the PC to the PlayStation, Xbox 360 and Nintendi Wii, browsers and mobile devices.

Havok managing director David Coghlan said in a statement that the Trinigy team was highly experienced and proven.

Buying Trinigy will extend the reach of both companies’ technologies across new geographies and market segments, he said.

A combination of Havok and Trinigy will broaden the games industry terms of target platforms, markets, budget sizes and distribution models, he claimed.

Details of the deal have not been revealed but it looks like money changed hands.