Computational Photo Chips in Huawei Smartphone

Huawei’s new Honor 6 Plus features a dual camera on the back and sub-$400 price tag, at least in China.

The Honor 6 Plus is equipped with two rear shooters, dubbed “Symmetrical dual camera technology“. The rear camera can take 13 MP shots, but actually consists of two 8 MP sensors with huge 1.85 micron pixel size, and a dedicated ISP tasked with merging and interpolation. One of the cameras features an f/2.0 autofocus lens, while the other sports f/2.4 and fixed focus.

Huawei claims 0.1s focusing time – the use of two sensors with two lenses allows more light to be gathered and improves focusing speed.

The Honor 6 Plus features a 5.5″ 1080p display, 1.8 GHz octa-core Kirin 925 chipset, 3 GB of RAM, a microSD slot for expansion, and a 3600 mAh battery along with a dedicated image signal processor (ISP).

The HTC One (M8) also has a Duo Camera system, but HTC uses their second, 2-megapixel camera for depth of field information. The sensor analyzes the distance and position of elements within a photo, and generates a depth map, which is embedded within each photo.

Computational photography chips such as the Movidius Myriad 2 aim to bring high-end vision and computational imaging applications to smart phones with features such as melding still and video panoramas, real-time HDR, synthetic zooming, depth perception and other features. Movidius claims that using its technology adds less then $10 to the cost of a mobile device.

H.265 encoding, available on Qualcomm’s 810 smartphone processor can reduce HD bandwidth by 50%. Portland’s Elemental Technologies can do the number crunching in the cloud, which could bring real-time computational video to all manner of devices. SpaceCurve continuously fuses geospatial, sensor, IoT, social media, location, and other streaming and historical data while making the data immediately available for analytics.

OpenVX provides mobile developers with an industry standard API to deliver embedded computer vision and computational imaging chipsets that can keep UAVs on track.

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The Honor 6 Plus will be up for preorder as soon as tomorrow from the Huawei mobile shop, with shipping starting a week after. Pricing is pegged at 1999 yuan (~$323) for the 3G version, and 2499 yuan (~403) for the 4G LTE one. No word on availability in the United States, but expect a bunch of smart phones with computational chips that feature synthetic zooming and other features next month at CES in Las Vegas.

Sigfox Building 900 MHz M2M Silicon Valley Network

Sigfox, a startup based near Toulouse, France, hopes to raise more than $70 million to build a national network in the US for the Internet of Things. SigFox picked the Bay Area to demonstrate their IoT wireless network that promises to link anything to the Internet, from smoke detectors to dog collars and bicycle locks.

Sigfox will cover the San Francisco peninsula, from its urban tip to Silicon Valley, some 40 miles to the south. It will use the unlicensed 915-megahertz spectrum to provide connectivity. Sigfox hopes to close funding early next year. Sigfox technology already covers the whole of France, most of the Netherlands, and parts of Russia and Spain.

They now cover 420,000 square miles in Europe with ranges that run from a couple of kilometers for underground water meters to 500 km for connected billboards run by Clear Channel.

Four companies now make Sigfox base stations using 800-900MHz transceivers. The base stations can run for 5-20 years on batteries, but are limited to data rates of 100-600 bits/second, sending a maximum of 140, 12-byte messages a day and receiving no more than four eight-byte messages a day. Sigfox charges operators a subscription rate of $1-16 a year per node based on volume. That’s a fraction of the $1-2/day a cellular link would cost, said Castonguay of Machina Research.

It also has an unnamed partner with whom it hopes to put base stations on satellites for a future IoT network with global coverage.

Around the world cities are beginning to deploy a diversity of M2M sensors to improve the efficiency of transport, lighting, irrigation and refuse collection.

Technology competitors include Neul, recently bought by Huawei, and chip firms such as Broadcom and Qualcomm, who are also tracking the opportunities with the 900MHz version of WiFi.

The upcoming .11ah standard, using the 900 MHz band, is expected to cover many home uses at 10-20 Mbits/s. It will also help WiFi vendors extend into large building networks supporting up to 8,000 connections. Chips are expected to hit the market starting in 2015. NEC is the first company to deploy the new oneM2M service layer standard in a live smart city control center.

The Sigfox standard is proprietary. Competitors include the Z-Wave Alliance, a consortium of leading companies in the home technology space and operates in the sub-1GHz band. It supports data rates up to 100kbps, with AES125 encryption, IPV6, and multi-channel operation. Z-Wave utilizes a mesh network architecture, and can begin with a single controllable device and a controller. Additional devices can be added at any time.

Intel, Broadcom, Samsung, Dell, Atmel and others have joined forces to launch the Open Interconnect Consortium. The intention of the OIC is to create specifications for interoperability. It will encapsulate various wireless standards to enable secure device discovery and connectivity across different devices.

Apple and Google, two of the biggest players in the Internet of Things market, may go their own way.

Google acquired smart thermostat company Nest for $3.2 billion and WiFi-enabled camera company Dropcam for $555 million. Google also announced it partnered with Mercedes-Benz, Whirlpool and light bulb maker LIFX to integrate their products with Google’s Nest.

Meanwhile, Apple announced a smart home framework called HomeKit, which can be used for controlling connected devices inside of a user’s home. Apple’s connected car infotainment system is called CarPlay.

IDC expects the installed base of the Internet of Things will be approximately 212 billion “things” globally by 2020. This is expected to include 30.1 billion installed “connected (autonomous) things” in 2020.

Related Smartmeter articles on Dailywireless include; Qualcomm Buys Silicon Radio, Huawei Buys Neul, Internet of Things: Divided or United?, Wispapalooza: Jim Carlson on White Spaces, Ofcom Announces White Space Partnerships, 802.11ah: WiFi Standard for 900MHz, Facebook Promotes Internet for Next 5 Billion, Super Wi-Fi Summit, FCC Supports National White Space Networking

NYC: Free Phone and WiFi at 10,000 Payphones

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced this week that CityBridge will develop and operate up to 10,000 802.11ac access points for New York City’s LinkNYC. It promises to be the largest free municipal Wi-Fi deployment in the world.

Public pay telephones will be replaced with WiFi hotspots where residents can make free phone calls in the U.S. and get free 24/7 Internet access. Advertisng will pay for it. The plan is to make ads relevant and contextually-driven in the dense population of Manhattan.

A particular kiosk could change the ad it’s displaying based on what time of day it is, what events are happening nearby, or even potentially what sorts of people are walking by it, at least in a broad demographic sense. In order to ensure equity among all five boroughs and live up to the promise of bringing wireless access to all New York neighborhoods, these units will need to branch into areas currently not highly sought after by advertisers.

The payphone RFP began in 2012 when DoITT issued a Request for Information (RFI) about the future of the payphone.

CityBridge is the consortium of companies that will build the project and includes Qualcomm, Titan, Comark and Control Group. CityBridge’s extended team includes Transit Wireless, Antenna Design as well as a (rumored) Ruckus Wireless,. Transit Wireless would be primarily responsible for the fiber infrastructure and is providing the wireless and Wi-Fi technology for 279 underground subway stations in NYC.

A spokeswoman told FierceWirelesTech that CityBridge was unable to comment on Ruckus’ role in the project. The city’s Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications spokesman could not immediately confirm Ruckus’ participation. A spokesman for Ruckus Wireless would not comment.

Ruckus offers dual-band 802.11ac outdoor access points (AP) designed explicitly for high density public venues. Its Smart Wi-Fi equipment is Passpoint certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is being used to power the Hotspot 2.0 service across both San Jose and San Francisco Wi-Fi networks.

“LinkNYC is an initiative that could only be made in New York – it harnesses the latest technologies and it is a true partnership of the world’s leaders in technology, telecommunications, advertising and design,” said Minerva Tantoco, Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York.

Of course lots of cities, including San Jose and others have tried free WiFi. Now, however, technology may have caught up with the vision. Utilizing Hotspot 2.0 (Passport) could allow multiple carriers and Wireless ISPs to use the service for seamless roaming, while smartphones and tablets have provided an insatiable hunger for more bandwidth. Beamforming and Multi-User MIMO will increase range and capacity. Bluetooth and WiFi tracking allow targeted advertising.

But NYC’s “free WiFi” plan could be politically naive. Ad beacons, “supercookies”, and big data could delay or possibly kill any proposal in the current climate of distrust.

Related articles on Dailywireless include; Reinvent Pay Phones, Ruckus Unwires San Jose Airport and Convention Center, Google Fiber Going Wireless?, Chicago Announces Free WiFi in Parks, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City, Qualcomm Annouces Proximity Beacons, Apple’s iBeacon: Location via Bluetooth 4.0, Small Cells for Cisco, Sprint to use Light Radio for Small Cells, Street light Provides Wi-Fi, Cell Coverage, Hotspot 2.0, Intel: Basestation in the Cloud,New Outdoor & Indoor 11ac Access Points from Ruckus, Ruckus Announces 802.11ac Access Points, What’s inside Google’s Fiber Huts?, Google Fiber Expands to More Cities, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City , FCC Authorizes High Power at 5.15 – 5.25 GHz, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band,

Carriers Track Users with “Supercookies”

Verizon and AT&T, the largest wireless carriers in the US, are using “supercookies” to track users, but they could be a boon to advertisers, hackers, says C/Net.

Cookies can be used to remember the information about the user who has visited a website in order to show relevant content in the future. Many websites use cookies for personalization based on users’ preferences. They’re commonly used on desktop browsers, but mobile phones and tablets generally have not used them.

“You’re making it very difficult for people who want privacy to find it on the Internet,” Paul Ohm, a senior policy adviser to the Federal Trade Commission and associate professor at the Colorado Law School, told The Washington Post, which reported the tracking programs last week.

Verizon’s solution is called the PrecisionID. When consumers visit certain websites or mobile apps, a request is sent through a Verizon network. Precision ID packages the request, as a hashed, aggregated and anonymous unique identifier, then turns it into a lucrative chunk of data for advertisers.

According to eMarketer, U.S. adults now spend nearly 24% of their media consumption time with smartphones and tablets, but marketers only spend an average of around 10% of their ad budgets targeting those devices.

Marketers say that’s largely because of technical limitations related to targeting and measuring ads on phones and tablets using “cookies.” The problem is, cookies don’t work well on smartphones and tablets, and that makes it difficult for marketers to understand who their ads are reaching, and the effect they’re having on consumers.

Facebook, the No. 2 digital advertising platform in the world, analysis the data on its 1.3 billion users to sell individually targeted ads. Facebook’s rebuilt ad platform called Atlas (product tour) will allow marketers to tap its detailed knowledge of its users to direct ads to those people on thousands of other websites and mobile apps, while online ad giant Google is evaluating non-desktop alternatives to cookies as well.

The potential legal issues, experts say, stem in part from the Communications Act, which prohibits carriers from revealing identifying information about their customers or helping others to do so. That is at the heart of complaints by the EFF, which is contemplating a lawsuit or other action to stop Verizon, said one of the group’s lawyers, Nate Cardozo.

Tascam Portable Recorders Get WiFi

Today WiFi is in most modern cameras. Now Tascam has brought WiFi to portable audio recorders, enabling remote control from a smartphone, with instant uploading to the cloud and other features.

The Tascam DR-22WL ($149, two track) and DR-44WL ($299, four track) are Wi-Fi enabled portable audio recorders with stereo condenser microphone and multiple audio tracks. The DR-44WL can record both the internal microphones and through external XLR inputs simultaneously for a four-track recording.

The new WiFi feature works with free apps for iOS or Android devices. It provides control, file transfer and audio streaming to your smartphone. It connects with smartphones and other Wi-Fi devices directly. There is no need for a Wi-Fi router or other equipment.

You can start recording while on-stage or from anywhere in the room, while setting trim levels and check meters to make sure the transport is running. Any of the recording controls can be controlled over Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi transmission range is about 65 feet (20m) – well beyond the reach of infrared remotes – so the recorder can be placed wherever the recording sounds best. Audio can also be streamed over Wi-Fi to check the recording. Plug headphones into your smartphone and listen to a near-realtime feed from the remote recorder.

At the end of a performance, you can transfer recordings to your phone and instantly upload them to SoundCloud, Facebook, even email directly to fans.

Like Wi-Fi, perhaps audio recorders will soon sprout multiple inputs using microphone arrays. Here’s MIT’s Microphone Array Switching Demo using 1000 microphone elements that allow beam-forming and audio tracking in a crowded room with many people talking.

Who knows, perhaps digital signal processing chips like the Movidius Myriad 2, designed for computational photography, may soon provide audio surveillence from drones.

Amazon Announces Voice Activated Personal Assistant

Amazon is building a speaker that’s controlled with your voice called Echo. It will start shipping in the coming weeks.

Echo is always connected to the cloud and will provide information, music, news, weather, and more whenever you ask for it. It’s essentially a Siri-like personal assistant — but inside a speaker. The built-in voice recognition can hear users from across the room.

Seven microphones use beam-forming to pinpoint your voice and filter out background noise, including background music, in order to better understand requests. The speaker also produces 360-degree audio. It can play music from Amazon Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn Plus. And it’s fully Bluetooth compatible, making playback from Spotify and Pandora possible. The device comes to life when you say the wake word, “Alexa.”

Features include:

  • News, weather, and information: Hear up-to-the-minute weather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn.
  • Music: Listen to your Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio.
  • Alarms, timers, and lists: Stay on time and organized with voice-controlled alarms, timers, shopping and to-do lists.
  • Questions and answers: Get information from Wikipedia, definitions, answers to common questions, and more.

It’s $199, but Prime members will be able to buy it for $99 for a limited time.