Apps Enter the Twilight Zone

Posted by Sam Churchill on

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone. — Rod Serling

Mobile broadband subscriptions are on track to surpass 1 billion in 2011 only months after reaching half a billion, according to Ericsson. There were 763 million broadband wireless subscribers in the world by the end of 2010, figures InStat.

Shipments of smartphones, tablets and other app-enabled devices will overtake PCs shipments in the next 18 months, says market research firm IDC. According to In-Stat, unit shipments for smartphones will reach nearly 850 million by 2015.

Brian Chen, who works for, has written a book called Always On about what it means to be constantly connected.

He explores the uses of the iPhone in education, medicine and law enforcement.

He spoke to Dave Davies of Fresh Air about the book:

DAVIES: Now apart from the fun stuff like games or being able to scan a barcode in a grocery store with your iPhone, you talk about some applications which might fundamentally alter some of the important occupations, some of the ways we relate to each other. And you write about what Abilene Christian University in Texas has done with iPhones. Tell us about that.

Mr. CHEN: Abilene Christian University has a really interesting iPhone program where for about two years, I think, they’ve been handing out free iPhones to every incoming freshman.

They have teachers get in front of the classroom, and instead of lecturing students , they say, OK, so here’s the topic we’re going to discuss today. Take out your iPhones and go ahead and search on the Web or search Wikipedia and let’s have a conversation about where we want to take this discussion and look for good information on how you can contribute to this.

DAVIES: OK. Let’s talk about some other areas where you see iPhone and iPhone applications as potentially transformative. Medicine, what are we seeing there?

Mr. CHEN: Personal health monitoring I think is going to be a pretty big thing in the next few years. And something I mentioned in the book is a group of researchers who are working on a digital contact lens that communicates with a smartphone, potentially.

So the contact lens takes information and transfers it, wirelessly, to the smartphone. And what the contact lens is doing is it’s collecting information from the surface of your eye.

What’s interesting about the eye is that the eye is like the little door into the body. And you can collect information about, say, cholesterol or glucose levels, blood pressure and transfer this information to the smartphone.

DAVIES: You’re talking about a contact lens that has electronics in it that you insert in your eyes?

Mr. CHEN: Right. A digital contact lens with wireless transmitters that transmits information to the smartphone application. This is still in development and it’s a little bit far away, I think. And they’re currently testing it on rabbits.

DAVIES: How might law enforcement be changed by this technology?

Mr. CHEN: What some police officers are doing is they’re testing this application called Moris.

Moris is an application that enables police officers to scan fingerprints of suspects and also scan their eyeballs and cross-reference that information with the database that they have back at the police station. Made by BI2 Technologies, the scanner is attached to an iPhone.

Word Lens with instantaneous signage translation, is available on the App Store.

Dragon Go!, voice recognition software from Nuance Communications, is a free application for iPhone and iPod touch that gives consumers immediate, direct access to relevant results from 180 of the most trusted and reliable content providers. Google Voice Search, for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Nokia S60 V3 phones, enables you to speak instead of typing in any app.

Cloud-based processing can now provide supercomputer power to mobile devices.

Elemental’s Cloud processing uses Amazon Web services for GPU processing in the cloud.

There are now over 10,000 medical apps in the App Store; a big jump from the 1,544 apps last year. Houston Neal narrowed it down to a list of the 70 best apps on his “Best Medical iPhone Apps for Doctors and Med Students” website.

Microwave chips aren’t just for communications anymore. They enable new sensor applications.

Imagine an Intel i7 handheld with Nvidia GPUs in a couple years. With broadband wireless and collaborative, social environments, smartphones are becoming transformational tools. Like Wordlens for doctors. Nanoscience and metamaterials are enabling a gateway to a new dimension.

Amazon’s new cloud application, Elastic Beanstalk, manages cloud applications automatically. Developers simply upload their application and Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing and auto-scaling.

Wi-Fi is moving to 802.11ac with 1 Gbps speeds at 60 GHz. Radio over Fiber may deliver 1 Gbps connectivity to nodes in multiple rooms. Mobile devices will get 25 Mbps connectivity from LTE-Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced. The new frontier.

Related Dailywireless articles include; The FierceWireless Fierce 15, Medical Devices Mobilize and Cloud + 4G: Next Wave?

Posted by Sam Churchill on Friday, July 15th, 2011 at 9:14 am .

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