LTE Direct Gets Real

LTE Direct, a new feature being added to the LTE protocol, will make it possible to bypass cell towers, notes Technology Review. Phones using LTE Direct (Qualcomm whitepaper), will be able to “talk” directly to other mobile devices as well as connect to beacons located in shops and other businesses.

The wireless technology standard is baked into the latest LTE spec, which is slated for approval this year. It could appear in phones as soon as late 2015. Devices capable of LTE Direct can interconnect up to 500 meters — far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. But issues like authorisation and authentication, currently handled by the network, would need to be extended to accommodate device to device to communication without the presence of the network.

At the LTE World Summit, Thomas Henze from Deutsche Telekom AG presented some use cases of proximity services via LTE device broadcast.

Since radio to radio communications is vital for police and fire, it has been incorporated into release 12 of the LTE-A spec, due in 2015.

At Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference in San Francisco this month, the company announced that it’s helping partners including Facebook and Yahoo experiment with the technology.

Facebook is also interested in LTE Multicast which is a Broadcast TV technology. Enhanced Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (also called E-MBMS or LTE Broadcast), uses cellular frequencies to multicast data or video to multiple users, simultaneously. This enables mobile operators to offer mobile TV without the need for additional spectrum or TV antenna and tuner.

Apple’s Wearable Faces Massive Competition

Apple’s upcoming wearable device, based on iOS, will run third-party applications and may come with an App Store, reports 9-to-5 Mac. To be revealed on Tuesday, the wrist-worn Apple wearable is not expected to be released until early next year. It will boast a fashionable appearance, but still function as a smart watch with fitness-centric features.

Rumors say the device includes a miniaturized system-on-a-chip with a multitude of sensors ranging from sweat detectors to pulse readers to motion sensors. The device is also expected to include an NFC chip to act as a conduit for Apple’s upcoming mobile payment system. One of the developers with access to the pre-release SDK is Facebook. The social network is also experimenting with ways it can leverage the new Notification Center widget APIs. Apple likely wants to demonstrate some third-party wearable apps at Tuesday’s event. The wearable device will make good use of the new Continuity, Handoff, and Widgets features for iPhone users to be able to easily transfer content from the smartphone to the wearable and vice versa.

Of course Apple will have lots of wearable competition. Here’s a rundown of the smartwatches announced at the IFA show in Berlin last week:

  • The Moto 360 went on sale last week for $250 via Motorola’s site, and it would seem the Android Wear-powered smartwatch is already backordered. On board is standard Android Wear, and that piece of software is being powered by 512MB of RAM and a TI OMAP 3 processor. All of it is displayed on a round 1.56-inch display with 320 x 290 resolution, and it should last up to a full 24 hours with its 320mAh battery. It remains to be seen whether the TI OMAP chipset can keep up with the Snapdragon 400 found in competing models.
  • The Samsung Gear S can make calls without being teathered to a phone, unlike previous versions. It features a heart rate monitor and a nanoSIM card slot, and a UV sensor which will keep an eye on radiation levels for you. Samsung Gear S specs; Tizen OS, 2-inch Super AMOLED (360x480p), 1 GHz dual-core processor, 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB of ROM, 300 mAh battery, IP67 rating. Text input capabilities are provided by Fleksy keyboard.
  • The LG Watch R, LG’s attempt a circular smartwatch will hit stores on October 14th, though it’s unclear which markets will see the watch first. Specs include a 1.3-inch POLED display with resolution of 320×320, 245PPI, Snapdragon 400, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage, Bluetooth 4.0, Sensors: 9-axis, PPG, Barometer, heart rate monitor.
  • Sony’s Smartwatch 3 is an Android Wear device. The interface is strongly reminiscent of Google Now for Android with its card-based approach to delivering notifications and data gathered from the device’s sensors. Sony added to the experience by connecting the watch to its Lifelog app.
  • Sony’s original SmartBand was upgraded to the new SmartBand Talk, a wearable that does many of the same physical activity tracking and life logging functions, but also handles calls and control your phone with your voice, and there’s also things like notifications and more. It has a 1.4-inch e-paper display. The display has a resolution of 288 x 128, and other specs include an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU, 2MB memory and a 70mAh battery that will give up to 3 days of battery life — at least according to Sony. There’s also Bluetooth, NFC and Sony’s now-standard IP68 waterproof tech
  • The Asus Zenwatch sticks to the “standard” rectangular design and is made primarily from stainless steel and has a slightly curved display. The display uses AMOLED technology and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 with genuine stitched-leather strap and quick-release clasp by an Italian designer. It runs Android Wear, features over 100 built-in watch faces, double-tap on the watch face to find your phone, and automatic phone unlock. Other features include the ability to trigger a camera shot via the watch, and a heart rate monitor.
  • Alcatel’s Wave Smartwatch offers notifications, step counts, heart-rate monitoring, music controls, and remote camera control. Plus a variant version will soon include a translucent solar panel on the face for drip recharging. Really inexpensive; €99 ($129 / £78 / AU$137)
  • Huawei is said to be prepping another wearable they’ll launch next year — this time running Android Wear.

This list was compiled from articles on PocketNow, Android Authority, Phone Arena, Phone Scoop, Phandroid, C/Net, and Engadget

Samsung Adds Nokia Maps to Phone and Watch

Nokia’s Here Maps are coming to Samsung Android and Tizen phones, report Engadget. Nokia’s maps work offline, so no celluar connection is required once regional maps are downloaded to the device. HERE for Android will let you download entire countries and regions, much like TomTom, or OpenStreetMap-powered alternatives such as Skobbler (now owned by Telenav).

Nokia (the part that wasn’t sold to Microsoft) today announced that it will bring Here Maps to Android for the first time, giving Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners advanced access to its own Google Maps alternative. The Korean smartphone maker has an existing deal to provide Nokia’s Here Maps to their Tizen wearables, such as the 3G-enabled Gear S smartwatch, which goes on sale in October.

By tapping on your location in HERE for Android, you can send a Glympse notice to friends to let them know you’re on your way. Glympse is a free and simple way to share your location in real time with people you trust.

On the Samsung Gear S, HERE is powering an application called Navigator, which offers turn-by-turn walk navigation and public transit routing. The app provides a complete stand-alone experience, including the ability to store map data locally on the device and use it offline for navigation, directions and search.

To get the most out of Navigator on a Samsung Gear S watch, you can also pair it with a the HERE app (beta) which works with the Samsung Galaxy family of devices. With the app you can plan and calculate routes for walking and public transit on your phone and then send them to your smartwatch. The app will be made available for download from the Samsung GALAXY Apps store when the Samsung Gear S hits stores.

If you go online you can use more advanced features, like live traffic and real-time transit schedules. You can also share the places you find with family and friends and save your favorite destinations into Collections that can be synced with other devices and here.com.

Samsung also announced today a partnership with NIKE, introducing the Nike+ Running App for Samsung Gear S watch/phone. The app utilizes the new Samsung Gear S’ built-in Bluetooth and 3G connectivity. With the pre-loaded Nike+ Running App on the Samsung Gear S, users can leave their phones at home.

A Nike+ app for Android was released earlier this summer, although there is no Android Wearable support yet.

OnBeep: StarTrek Communicator?

OnBeep, a San Francisco startup, has raised a series A funding round worth $6.25 million. The money will be used to fund the creation of a new hardware device to make it easy for groups of people to communicate with one another, without having to fiddle with a smartphone.

OnBeep’s product is said to be similar to a “Star Trek” communicator, according to GeekWire. Users can wear it or clip it on, and be able to immediately get a hold of people they want to reach.

The company will combine wearables, bluetooth and smartphones to offer push-to-talk (PTT) capabilities, according to GigaOm.

OnBeep is built to help groups communicate with one another in real time, like families at an amusement park, or a team of people working on an event.

In order to communicate with the outside world, the OnBeep will pair with a user’s smartphone. The company isn’t ready to release exact details on what the device looks like or how much it will cost, but insists it will be available later this year.

OnBeep was co-founded by Jesse Robbins, Greg Albrecht, who previously served as a Senior Software Engineer at Splunk, and Roger Wood, who led product design and marketing for Nextel.

Push-to-Talk Apps can turn your Smartphone into a Walkie-Talkie, notes ReadWrite. Cellular carriers also offer PTT functionality, although these software solutions are generally not as fast as the now obsolete and mostly unavailable Nextel Network which used the iDEN infrastructure (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) for Push-To-Talk.

Vocera Communications Badge is a lightweight, voice-controlled, wearable device that enables instant two-way or one to many conversations using intuitive and simple commands.

It uses WiFi to communicate, but requires everyone be on a compatible WiFi network. It’s often used in medical facilities.

Using unlicensed 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz frequencies results in very limited range, unless multiple WiFi routers are linked. But 150 Mhz may be used for device to device communications.

GoTenna has developed a 6-inch-long antenna that connects to iPhones and Android phones via Bluetooth low energy. The antenna then transmits the data to other GoTennas as far as 9 miles away through proprietary protocols, at 151-154 MHz.

You can send text messages up to 160 characters as well as share your location on offline maps. The gadget is available for preorder at $150 for two devices, since it takes two devices to form a peer-to-peer network.

GoTenna uses the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), an unlicensed personal radio service in the 150 MHz band. The goTenna is dependent on FCC approval and is currently undergoing FCC testing. If it doesn’t pass, money would be refunded, says the company. According to GoTenna, you can send & receive messages for free for several miles, without using a cell antenna.

The 150 MHz VHF band, used by the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), propagates well outdoors. The 450 MHz UHF band is used by the Family Radio Service (FRS) has a maximum output of 500 mW while the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS uses the lower 7 channels of FRS, in the 462 MHz range, with a maximum of 5 watts ERP. It requires a valid GMRS license, but propagates better in buildings and urban areas.

Standalone SIM-enabled smartwatches, that don’t need pairing with a cellphone to make a call, are likely to be coming from Samsung and others this year. Currently, Bluetooth pairing with a smartphone enables cellular connectivity while pairing with something like a GoAntenna may enable direct device to device connectivity (in the 150 or 450 MHz band).

Unlicensed white spaces, between 500-700 MHz, might be another option for device to device communications. Unlicensed LTE Advanced using the 5 GHz band, may also offer direct connections without going through a cell tower. Device-to-device connections is getting baked into the latest LTE-Advanced standard, and is especially useful for first responders.

Release 12, with Device to Device communications is slated for finalization this December.

See: GoAntenna: 10 Mile Cell Communications – Without Towers and Vocera + Wayport

Body Sensors Network

The FCC finalized rules covering Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) used for wireless networking of multiple body sensors for performing diagnostic or therapeutic functions, primarily in health care facilities.

MBAN devices promise to enhance patient safety, care and comfort by reducing the need to physically connect sensors to essential monitoring equipment by cables and wires.

An MBAN is a low power network of sensors worn on the body controlled by a hub device that is located either on the body or in close proximity to it. MBAN devices operate in the 2360-2400 MHz band on a secondary basis, and must not cause harmful interference to and must accept interference from operating in the band, which is just below the WiFi band (2.4 ghz to 2.485 GHz).

The 2360-2390 MHz band is allocated for the Mobile Service on a primary basis and is used for aeronautical mobile telemetry (AMT). The 2390-2400 MHz band is allocated for both the Amateur Service and the Mobile Service on a primary basis.

Meanwhile, Ralph Lauren’s new Tech shirt is making its debut at the US Open this week. The new $200 Polo Tech shirt uses sensors and a removable electronics pack to track all of an athlete’s vitals

It has a conductive thread of sensors knitted into it that read biological and physiological information on the wearer. The technology, powered by Canadian company OMsignal, uses an accelerometer and gyroscope to collect data on the wearer’s movement, direction, vitals and even stress level when a ball comes flying across the court.

This data is then transmitted via Bluetooth to the cloud, where it is stored and analyzed, producing information on the user’s heartbeat, respiration, stress level, energy output and other activity-related stats, viewable from a mobile app.

“As flexible electronics merge into textile-based constructions, and eventually become intrinsic to the fiber itself, people will come to implicitly expect their clothes to be connected”, says Stéphane Marceau, co-founder of OMsignal. “Bio-tracking technology woven into fabric and sewn into seams will become the same baseline expectation as buttons are on a pair of jeans.”

Android Wear and Android Wear Apps now support the new wearables which include a variety of watches by Samsung Gear Live, the LG “G” Watch and Motorola’s Moto 360, as well as dedicated fitness devices, likely to appear next week at the IFA show in Berlin.

ABI Research forecasts shipments of Bluetooth enabled sports and fitness devices will grow ten-fold from 2011 to 2016, totaling 278 million and representing over 60 percent of the total available market.

In it’s new report, IC Insights says Bluetooth unit shipments will grow 29% per year over the 2010-2015 time period.

Juniper Research predicts by the year 2014, there will be a total of 2.7 million annual mobile health monitoring events globally, generating some $1.9 billion at the end of 2014.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Tour de France 2014, Watches Going Cellular, Real-time Running and Biking Apps, Bluetooth Bike and Fitness Sensors Get Smart, Polar Ships Bluetooth 4 Heart Monitor, HTC One S: Android 4 & Bluetooth Low Energy, FCC Okays Medical Body Networks, Wireless Control Expands Reach, Texting Clogs Cycling GPS Trackers at Olympics, Wireless Health Initiatives, Medical Devices Mobilize, Apps Enter the Twilight Zone, Mobile Health: Fast Growth , Open Source Tricorder and Mobile Health: Alive and Well.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Network Proposed for United States

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking input about a possible federal standard for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, which would let cars automatically exchange information, such as whether they’re close to each other.

On Monday, the NHTSA published a research report and issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) in hopes of collecting a lot of feedback before issuing a full NPRM in 2016.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the technology holds the potential to significantly reduce crashes, injuries and deaths on the nation’s streets and highways.

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications utilizes a wireless network where automobiles send messages to each other. Traffic signals or other stationary devices are called V2I, or vehicle to infrastructure.

A transponder would continually transmit the vehicle’s position, heading, speed and other information 10 times per second in all directions. It has a range around 1000 feet or about 10 seconds at highway speeds.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications uses dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), using the 5.9GHz band, which is close to the new, higher power 5 GHz WiFi band authorized by the FCC. Proposed FCC rules would increase power for the U-NII-3 band–5.725-5.850 MHz, but it is drawing heavy criticism from highway advocates and wireless ISPs. The highway administration is concerned about possible DSRC interference from more powerful outdoor WiFi in the adjacent 5 GHz band.

The Association of Global Automakers has expressed concerns about more power in the adjacent 5 GHz WiFi band.

The TIA believes that the FCC acted correctly to promote use of the 5 GHz band by unlicensed devices, including allowing operations up to 5850 MHz which is adjacent to the automakers’ DSRC / U-NII-4 spectrum (5850-5925 MHz)

V2V would be a mesh network, meaning every node (car, smart traffic signal, etc.) could send, capture and retransmit signals. Five to 10 hops on the network would gather traffic conditions a mile ahead. That’s enough time for even the most distracted driver to take his foot off the gas. On the first cars, V2V warnings might come to the driver as an alert, perhaps a red light that flashes in the instrument panel, or an amber then red alert for escalating problems.

The intelligent highway communications network (using the 5.9 GHz band) is not directly connected to a car’s infotainment system which uses Bluetooth, WiFi and 4G commercial networks for passenger entertainment.

Five years ago infotainment ranked 27th on a list of features most cars shopper wanted. Now it’s in the top five.

According to research firm Analysys Mason, 11.5 million connected cars will ship this year, growing to around 170 million in 2023. General Motors’ OnStar service currently has 6 million customers. Worldwide sales of HUD-equipped cars will increase from 1.2 million units in 2012 to 9.1 million in 2020.

Here’s My Proposal for self-driving cars in Portland. See Dailywireless stories on Vehicle to Vehicle Communications: Moving Forward?, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band, World Congress on Talking Cars, and 5.9 GHz Hits the Road, Inside Google’s Driverless Car, Driverless Cars Rolling Out in UK, Autonet Does Control and Diagnostic Apps, Verizon Forms Connected Car Venture, Automotive Telematics Goes 4G, Ford Lowers SYNC Costs, Google’s Driverless Car Explained, World Congress on Talking Cars, Connected Car Conference