WiMax Comes Home

Airspan Networks, announced today the launch of two new 802.16a products, the AS4030, a multi-point WiMax radio and AS3030, a point-to-point 802.16a compliant (Wi-Max) radio. Interoperability is still an issue between the vendors of early 802.16a gear, as WiFi Planet points out.

The AS4030 is a high-end point to multipoint (P-MP) product for medium to large businesses and multi-tenant dwellings. It can also be configured for a wide range of backhaul applications. It allows an operator to deliver dedicated IP connections to end customers at speeds of up to 45Mbit/s, or 1-4 E1/T1s or combinations of IP and E1/T1 services.

The product is a full implementation of the new WiMAX 802.16 standard and can provide service in both line-of-sight (LOS) and full non line-of-sight (NLOS) deployments, covering distances of up to 50 kilometers. It uses licensed 3.5 GHz and the unlicensed 5.8 GHz frequency bands with 3.0, 3.5, 6.0, 7.0 and 14 MHz RF Channels. A base station is $9,045 and a subscriber unit is $7,025.

The AS3030 is a point-to-point (P-P) version of AS4030. It delivers IP bit rates of up to 45Mbit/s, or 1-4 E1/T1s or a combination of IP and E1/T1 and costs around $8,000 per link. NLOS P-P links may extend up to 10km and LOS links of up to 80km. In a P-P configuration, AS3030 will be able to backhaul traffic from a network that uses AS4020 or WipLL products or from 802.11 Wi-Fi hot spots.

Airspan Networks provides wireless DSL systems and solutions to both licensed and unlicensed operators. The company has deployments with more than 120 operators in more than 60 countries and is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida with its main operations center in Uxbridge, United Kingdom.

VeriLAN in Portland, Oregon, may be the first commercial installation of 802.16a-like gear in the United States. VeriLAN is using Wi-Lan 802.16a-compliant gear on the Oregon coast and in the Portland metropolitan area.

Steven Schroedl, President of VeriLAN Inc., told DailyWireless that VeriLAN received the very first 802.16a-compliant Wi-Lan radios shipped. Schroedl says Verilan will shoot a Wi-Max connection from the roof of its internet presence at the Pittock Internet Exchange, to the KGW broadcast tower , the highest tower in the region. From the tower, Verilan can deliver T-1 speeds to businesses at less cost than The Phone Company. Verilan also will feed several Vivato Phased Array antennas surrounding Portland’s core. Verilan’s Vivatos will create a Wi-Fi “cloud” in Portland.

Portland-based Invictus Networks, now an official Vivato dealer, is working with Verilan and Vivato on the project.

Cellular Jam Session

Techdirt points out a New Scientist article, Cellphone software allows a musical jam.

“English engineers have found a way for groups of people to collectively create music using their cellphones. “Nick Bryan-Kinns and his colleagues at Queen Mary College (QMC) have developed daisyphone software that let will groups of people phone into a mobile number and work together to improvise short, looping tunes.”

My blog gives you more details on the project and includes a screen capture of the creation of some school kids after using the software. You can try daisyphone by yourself (providing you have Java 1.4.1).

The tempo is set by the speed at which a ‘radar arm’ rotates around the daisy. As the arm passes over coloured shapes placed on the dotted petals, musical sound samples — such as piano, flute or snare drum — are played.

Each of four instruments is represented by a different shape, while colour indicates who placed it. Distance from the centre of the daisy indicates pitch and ranges over a couple of octaves. All users can alter anybody else’s work. They can also be “daisy-chained” together.

Griff is a full-blown virtual music studio for the Pocket PC, complete with sequencer, sampler, mixer, instruments and effects while the DJ Mixer (below) is a handy tool for sound production/mixing.

How about incorporating the “iPort” into public art? I smell a grant!

With the holidays coming up, tens of thousands of dollars will be spent putting up holiday lights. For a small incremental cost, you might as well get a WiFi hotspot/repeater installed too. Here’s last year’s Daily Wireless story on Wi-Fi Light Sequencers to get the creative juices going.

A Pocket PC can send and receive X-10 data wirelessly.

Horrors! Microsoft + Google?

Here’s a horror story; Microsoft and Google Partners?

Google’s search services are powered by Linux and their AdSense services are very popular with blogs (like Daily Wireless). Microsoft’s MSN is awful. Any Microsoft takeover of Google would likely be the end of civilization as we know it.

While marriage may be unlikely … “it demonstrates the enormous importance that Google represents as both a competitive threat to Microsoft and as Silicon Valley’s latest hope for a new financial boom,” the NY Times reported.

ZD Net reports plans are still vague for a possible IPO, which might value the company at more than $15 billion.

The Times said that Google could sell a 10 percent to 15 percent stake to the public and raise about $2 billion. Goldman Sachs, the newspaper also wrote, might not make it to the final cut because Google reportedly is concerned about the firm’s close relationship with Microsoft and rival Yahoo Inc.

Broadband Handhelds

A Compact Flash radio for 3G will offered by NTT DoCoMo for highspeed data access by handheld and desktop computers.

The card – P2402 – will enable videophone and other wireless data services offered on FOMA at speeds of up to 384Kbits/sec downstream and 64Kbits/sec upstream. It allows connections to other FOMA handsets and ISDN fixed-line videophones. A basic digicam and headset will also be required to make video calls. FOMA uses W-CDMA for an effective 200-500kbps mobile speed.

In the United States, Sierra’s AirCard 580 uses Verizon’s CDMA-based, 1X EV-DO network (in San Diego and Washington, D.C.). It gets similar speed (200kbps-500kbps) for $80/month but requires a larger PC card.

The Convergent CF GPRS card ($200) is also a phone when you install Running Voice GSM. Telesym and VLI (right) also do “free” VoIP over Wi-Fi networks. Plug in a CompactFlash camera or SD WiFi card ($100).

PDAs that include built-in WiFi as well as dual slots (for CompactFlash and SD/IO) include the Fujitsu Siemens Pocket Loox 610 and the Toshiba e805. Sharp is prepping a Linux-based Zaurus PDA with a 4″, 480 x 640 transflective screen and integrated WiFi with dual slots, too.

Adding 3G cellular data service to PDAs and laptops is one way to go, but adding Wi-Fi In Cellphones with devices like the SD WiFi card is another approach. Wi-Fi cellphones are expected to show up next year.

The Antelope mobile computer (below) is about the size of a deck of cards and runs Windows XP. The handheld features a tiny 1GHz computer with 256MB of RAM and a 10 or 15GB hard drive. The core — which costs $4,000 — pops into a docking station with a screen and keyboard if you want to use it like a desktop, or into a smaller PDA-type shell if you need something more portable. A handheld XP computer with built-in WiFi and EDGE/GPRS or 1XRTT cards should cover most of the bases.

Microsoft’s Wireless Provisioning Services features automatic handoff and automatically configures settings when using Windows XP with Windows Server 2003 and 802.1x. Other secure 802.1x client software is available from PCTel, Meetinghouse and Padcom.

New Tablet PCs, Panasonic Toughbooks and Linux Tablets may cost less and do more than tiny XP handhelds. Lycoris Linux-based TabletPC software features Open Office and wireless connectivity for under $2000.

On the phone front, AT&T Wireless offers Motorola’s MPx200, a clamshelll Windows Mobile-based Smartphone for $299.

Motorola’s Linux-based A760 clamshell phone (right) features a mobile phone, a digital camera, video player, MP3 player, speakerphone, advanced messaging and Bluetooth.

Motorola’s 1xEV-DO phone (below) features a built-in camera, OLED outer display, and a 160-by-128-pixel LCD for streaming video. It’s only available in countries with advanced telecommunications.

TI and Sun are teaming for mobile services. Their Connected Limited Device Configuration HotSpot Implementation (CLDC HI) will be integrated into TI chipsets for handsets and wireless OMAP applications processors. The aim is to reduce the complexity of Java technology-enabled handset production.

TI said it expects to offer complete GPRS chipsets and handset reference designs, including Sun’s CLDC HI, by the second quarter of 2004. The Java implementation of TI’s OMAP platform can be fed with Sun’s Content Delivery Server.

ARM is promoting the PowerVR MBX core , developed with Imagination Technologies, for realistic 3D graphics on mobile devices. ARM chips are used in Palm and Pocket PC devices, as well as the majority of mobile phones. Texas Instruments’ OMAP (Open Multimedia Applications Platform), will license the core for use in Palms, PocketPCs and Symbian smartphones.

3G/3D-TV anyone?

Still, for mobile data rates over 300kbps, “3G” may have a tough time beating “4G” or ubiquitous Wi-Fi in speed and cost. Evolving “standards” like 802.16e and 802.20, some claim, may deliver 1 Mbps mobility, faster and cheaper than “3G”.

Voice Command

MS Mobiles reports that Microsoft Voice Command, for the Pocket PC will let you use your voice to look up contacts, place phone calls, get calendar information, play music, and launch applications. It is expected to be available in early November for $39.

The Voice Command application is said to be speaker independent, requiring no voice training.

Voice Command was created for people on the move such as in the car, walking down the street, or holding packages. Hands-free, voice-controlled interaction is available. It works with Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PC and Pocket PC Phone.

If you need to call a number that is not in your contact list, just say the phone number or play your music collection like your own personal DJ.

Fonix VoiceDial for Pocket PC and Fonix iSpeak for Pocket PC might be placed in a “talking head” – VoiceDial listens while iSpeak “talks” – select your language.

Two Microsoft Xbox games are using Fonix voice-command technology. Both Rainbow Six 3, published by Ubisoft and SWAT: Global Strike Team, published by Sierra Entertainment, feature voice-command features based upon Fonix technology available in Microsoft’s Xbox developer’s kit (XDK).

Fonix speech recognition is available to developers in the Microsoft XDK in multiple languages, including English and U.K. English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese.

ExtremeTech writes about the Connected Car, “a concept that’s as alluring as it is frightening” and NPR reported on the Win CE-equipped BMWi – which has a few bugs. A Thai finance minister, for example, on his way to a meeting became trapped in his car when the onboard computer of his BMW malfunctioned, shutting down the engine, locking all the doors and windows, and sealing him and his driver inside. Smart Mobs has more on The Connected Car.

The W3 “Voice Browser” Working Group is developing “speech” standards while SpeechTEK EXPO, held earlier this month, featured many new products. It’s the world’s premier event dedicated exclusively to speech products, applications and solutions. A few of the new products to be showcased at last year’s SpeechTEK included:

  1. ScanSoft Naturally Speaking
  2. IBM Via Voice
  3. ScanSoft: RealSpeak
  4. Microsoft Speech SDK for .Net
  5. The DDLinux page
  6. Aculab TTS V3.0, is the latest version of its host based text to speech software. Their Speaker Verification Software is designed for use in telephony applications and forms a component part of Aculab’s new connected word recognition (CWR) 3.0 package.
  7. SandCherry, will showcase SoftServer 2.3 which allows for affordable mass deployment of next-generation services, such as voice dialing, voice-enabling customer service applications and multimodality.
  8. SVOX Mobile, the Swiss specialist for text-to-speech technology, introduces SVOX Mobile, an embedded product line for mobile phones and the world’s smallest diphone synthesis, Their concatenative text-to-speech runs on the Symbian OS.
  9. Babel Technologies, a world leader in speech processing technologies, will be demonstrating new and existing products including BrightSpeech, its new Text-to-Speech engine and Infovox Desktop, the lastest version of its popular Text-to-Speech multi-lingual software. Check out their text to speech demos (.wav files) in American English, British English, Arabic, Czech, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Portuguese and Turkish.
  10. Kirusa, the leading developer and licensor of multimodal wireless platforms, will showcase real-world examples of voice and visual integration enhancing the benefits of wireless applications. It allows wireless phone and PDA users to access and enter content by speaking commands or information, or by using visual signals such as typing or gesturing to their handset. Check out their sports demo.
  11. SpeechStudio Suite is a complete set of tools, utilities, and controls for rapidly constructing, integrating, or prototyping speech and telephony applications. Portland-based, SpeechStudio is the first vendor to field an integrated voice interface development tool suite and has received positive reviews.
  12. May We Help provides companies with real-world voice and internet customer communications solutions including: VoiceXML.

Daily Wireless has more on Lip Reading Computers, Talking Books and Natural Language Input.

Sun Explodes

Space Weather reports a second explosion in as many days has hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) toward Earth. It will sweep past our planet on Oct. 30th or 31st and could trigger renewed geomagnetic storming. Electric utilities and communications companies are on high alert for surges and disruptions in service.

The solar activity has caused a series of radio blackouts that affected communications with aircraft traveling at extreme northern and southern latitudes. The blackouts are expected to continue for at least a week. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight.

Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics reported the first wave of a major solar flare hit their satellites late Wednesday afternoon, signaling the storm’s likely arrival Thursday.

This is the real thing,” says John Kohl, a solar astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and principal investigator for the Ultraviolet Coronagraph Spectrometer on board NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft. “The eruption was positioned perfectly. It’s headed straight for us like a freight train”.

The source of all this solar activity is giant sunspot 486, which can be seen from Earth with the “naked” eye. This week it has unleashed two of the most powerful solar flares ever recorded and hurled massive CMEs toward Earth at 5 million miles an hour. More such eruptions are possible in the days ahead.

There were few reports of damage from Wednesday’s storm, although Japan’s space agency announced the Kodama communications satellite malfunctioned after being affected by the flare. The agency said it was only temporarily shutdown, USA Today reported.

Utilities are closely watching power grids for signs of voltage-control problems, and minor electric surges are reported well under control.

The new storm will add to the effects of Wednesday’s blast, rated a G5, the highest intensity space weather.

Solar storms come in three parts — a fast-moving x-ray flare, a burst of slower radiation and finally the arrival of a giant superheated cloud of gas.

According to NOAA, a G5-class geomagnetic storm can have the following effects:

  • Power systems: Widespread voltage control problems and protective system problems can occur, some grid systems may experience complete collapse or blackouts. Transformers may experience damage.
  • Spacecraft operations: May experience extensive surface charging, problems with orientation, uplink/downlink and tracking satellites.
  • Other systems: Pipeline currents can reach hundreds of amps, HF (high frequency) radio propagation may be impossible in many areas for one to two days, satellite navigation may be degraded for days, low-frequency radio navigation can be out for hours, and aurora has been seen as low as Florida and southern Texas (typically 40 geomagnetic lat.).

More information is available at Space Weather, Google News, Space Daily, Yahoo, New Scientist and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (images).