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.

WorldVu Proposes Global LEO Broadband

According to the Wall Street Journal, Elon Musk is working with WorldVu Satellites which proposes to deliver Internet access across the globe. A network of 700 satellites in Low Earth Orbit would use the Ku band (12/14 GHz) to deliver broadband to end users. Industry officials estimate that it would cost $1 billion or more to develop the project.

Musk is working with Greg Wyler, a former Google executive and satellite-industry veteran. Wyler founded WorldVu Satellites which controls a large block of radio spectrum in the Ku band.

WorldVu hopes to bring the cost of manufacturing the satellites to under $1 million, with each satellite weighing about 250 pounds. The current WorldVu design has been granted radio spectrum rights by international regulators, to beam some 2 gigahertz of Ku-band (12/14 GHz) using nongeostationary satellites at between 800 and 950 kilometers in altitude.

The WorldVu satellite constellation would be 10 times the size of the current Iridium fleet. It is expected to require up to US$3 billion in capital by the time the full constellation becomes operational in 2019–2020. SpaceX, which has launched a dozen of its Falcon 9 rockets in the past five years, would likely launch the satellites.

O3b Networks, a previous satellite Internet startup founded by Mr. Wyler, has faced technical problems with the first four satellites it launched, which likely will shorten their lifespans. Today, satellites in the O3b constellation each weigh about 700 kg (1543 lbs), and were designed, tested and integrated by Thales Alenia Space. O3b serves large areas on either side of the equator with a constellation of eight satellites and is planning to launch four more by the end of the year. O3b is using Ka-band frequencies that were abandoned by the now-defunct Teledesic venture

Teledesic was the most ambitious of the early LEO broadband constellation proposals. Originally in 1994, 840 active satellites were planned, then 288 active satellites in 1997 after a Boeing-led redesign and before the merge with Motorola’s Celestri. Later it was reduced to a proposed 12 satelites in a Medium Orbit (as Craig McCaw’s ICO). Teledesic planned 21 near-polar orbital planes of 40 active satellites with 4 in-orbit spares per plane at an altitude of 700km. Each Teledesic satellite was originally planned to have eight intersatellite links, in the 60GHz band. Ka-band frequencies were allocated to Teledesic at the 1995 World Radio Conference.

Alcatel announced its SkyBridge constellation in February 1997. Unlike Teledsic, SkyBridge did not propose to use intersatellite links. Instead, its satellites were planned to act as in-orbit ‘bent-pipe’ transponders, in the Ku-band.

The WorldVu concept is similar to the defunct SkyBridge satellite constellation, and is an attempt to use the same spectrum. Before it disappeared, SkyBridge battled with existing satellite fleet operators about whether dozens of SkyBridge satellites in low orbit would interfere with the standard telecommunications satellite fleets in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers over the equator, notes SpaceNews.

Perhaps active beamforming antennas like Kymet’s flat antenna and improved frequency inteference rejection will bring LEO broadband satellites back from the dead. With WorldVu, Google may be adding another player in satellite space in addition to their SkyBox Imaging platform.

Third world and global broadband connectivity is being explored with a variety of platforms, including drones. Facebook purchased Britain’s Ascenta drone company as part of what it calls its Connectivity Lab project, while Google earlier this year purchased Titan Aerospace.

Near-space platforms at 12 miles (20K meters/65K feet) are 20 times closer than a typical 400-kilometer LEO satellite at 250 miles. High altitude UAVs can stare — 24/7 — without blinking or human needs. Mercury’s sigint computers are powered by nVidia GPUs and Intel processors for TeraFLOPS processing.

IEEE Spectrum has Five Ways to Bring Broadband to the Backwoods, including solar-powered drones, MEO and LEO satellites, balloons, blimps, and White Spaces.

Perhaps not co-incidentally, Google’s rumored fleet of LEO Comsats would weigh about the same as their new Skybox imaging satellites, or about 250 pounds (113 Kilograms).

Supposedly, the LEO comsats would operate in circular orbits of 800 and 950 kilometers inclined 88.2 degrees relative to the equator. Google may try for a regulatory deadlines of between late 2019 and mid-2020 to enter service by the ITU, using the Ku band (12/14 GHz).

In other news, the third MUOS secure military communications satellite has been delivered to Florida by Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy for launch next year. MUOS, or Mobile User Objective System, spacecraft, is a geosynchronous platform that can send and receive secure voice and data communications directly to handsets.

MUOS-1 and MUOS-2 were launched respectively launched in 2012 and 2013. The MUOS Constellation will consist of Four Satellites in Geosynchronous Orbit with one on-orbit spare. A total of 16 communication beams can be provided by each satellite. MUOS will replace the legacy UHF Follow-On and operates primarily in the 300 MHz band which penetrates foliage well.

MUOS utilizes 3G (WCDMA) cell phone technology which was a pretty big deal back in 2002. Data rates of up to 384kbps will be available for mobile users. Today’s drones, however, now depend on commercial broadband satellites for most of their kill missions.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Google Buys Skybox Imaging for $500 Million, Fleet of LEO Comsats for Google?, Satellite Swarms Revolutionize Earth Imaging, Google Buying Drone Company Titan, Facebook Announces Connectivity Lab, Amazon & Globalstar Test Wireless Service, GlobalStar Promotes “Licensed” WiFi in 2.4 GHz band, OuterNet: CubeSat Datacasting?, Planet Labs’ Photo CubeSats Released,SpaceX: Geosynchronous Launch, Antarctic Expeditions Go Live, ExactEarth Launches 5th AIS Satellite, ViaSat-1 Launched

Qualcomm Announces end-to-end MU-MIMO

Qualcomm today announced 802.11ac Wave 2 solutions with multi-user multi-input/multi-output (MU-MIMO). Qualcomm Atheros will be conducting the industry’s an over-the-air, end-to-end MU-MIMO demonstration using their networking and client-side chips at Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, October 21-23.

Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac chipsets with MU-MIMO technology, which Qualcomm Atheros introduced earlier this year are beginning to be released in products. Mobile device manufacturers are also preparing smartphones and tablets to take advantage of these MU-MIMO which can achieve up to three times faster 11ac Wi-Fi, according to Qualcomm.

The Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377 chip extends the performance benefits of MU | EFX to notebooks, TVs, cameras, and other consumer electronics, while Qualcomm’s single-stream 11ac + Bluetooth 4.1 combination chip is designed to provide the best possible performance with reduced power consumption.

Qualcomm says its VIVE is currently the only line of 802.11ac Multi-User MIMO solutions for networking equipment, consumer electronics, and mobile and computing devices. The VIVE Wi-Fi radio is an integral part built into the new Snapdragon 810 and 808 platforms.

Multi-user MIMO allows multiple transmitters to send separate signals to multiple receivers simultaneously in the same band.

Three Quantenna-based 802.11ac products are now available on the market, says Tim Higgins of Small Net Builder. They include the ASUS’ Broadcom / Quantenna based RT-AC87U/R, the NETGEAR’s R7500, and the Linksys E8350, but they currently do not support MU-MIMO. Broadcom’s new 5G Xtream adds another radio to the existing platform, but does not support MU-MIMO.

Qualcomm says AVM will introduce a new FRITZ! Box router based on the Qualcomm IPQ and 4-stream 802.11ac with MU-MIMO products, targeting both retail and carrier segments. Qualcomm Atheros has enabled mobile customers using its 802.11ac products (QCA6174A and WCN3680B) to include Qualcomm MU | EFX in forthcoming smartphones and tablets.

Mimosa Networks: Outdoor Multi-User MIMO

Mimosa Networks, a pioneer in gigabit wireless technology, has announced a new suite of outdoor 802.11ac 4×4 access points and client devices, to create “the world’s highest capacity low-cost outdoor solution and the first with MU-MIMO”. It’s targeting Wireless ISPs and enterprises, but their products won’t be available until Summer/Fall 2015.

Currently most 802.11ac access points use Single User MIMO where every transmission is sent to a single destination only. Other users have to wait their turn. Multi-User MIMO lets multiple clients use a single channel. MU-MIMO applies an extended version of space-division multiple access (SDMA) to allow multiple transmitters to send separate signals and multiple receivers to receive separate signals simultaneously in the same band.

With advanced RF isolation and satellite timing services (GPS and GLONASS), Mimosa collocates multiple radios using the same channel on a single tower while the entire network synchronizes to avoid self-interference.

Additionally, rather than relying on a traditional controller, the access platform takes advantage of Mimosa Cloud Services to seamlessly manage subscriber capacities and network-wide spectrum and interference mitigation.

“The next great advancement in the wireless industry will come from progress in spectrum re-use technology. To that extent, MU-MIMO is a powerful technology that enables simultaneous downlink transmission to multiple clients, fixed or mobile, drastically increasing network speed and capacity as well as spectrum efficiency,” said Jaime Fink, CPO of Mimosa. “Our products deliver immense capacity in an incredibly low power and lightweight package. This, coupled with MU-MIMO and innovative collocation techniques, allows our products to thrive in any environment or deployment scenario and in areas with extreme spectrum congestion.”

The A5 access points are available in 3 different options: A5-90 (90º Sector), High Gain A5-360 (360º Omni with 18 dBi gain) and Low Gain A5-360 (360º Omni with 14 dBi gain). The C5 Client device is small dish, available in 20 dBi gain. The B5c Backhaul leverages 802.11ac, 4×4:4 MIMO and is said to be capable of 1 Gbps throughput.

All four of the products will debut in wireless ISP networks in Summer/Fall 2015 and are currently available for pre-order on the Mimosa website. List Prices are: $1099 for A5-90, $999 for A5 360 18 dBi, $949 for A5 360 14 dBi, $99 for C5.

Mimosa Networks says the new FCC 5 GHz Rules Will Limit Broadband Delivery. New rules prohibit the use of the entire band for transmission, and instead require radios to avoid the edges of the band, severely limiting the amount of spectrum available for use (the FCC is trying to avoid interference with the 5.9 GHz band planned for transporation infrastructure and automobiles).

In addition, concerns about interference of Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (at 5600-5650 MHz) prompted the FCC to disallow the TDWR band. Attempting to balance the needs of all constituencies (pdf), the new FCC regulation adds 100 MHz of new outdoor spectrum (5150-5250 MHz), allowing 53 dBm EIRP for point-to-point links. At the same time, however, it disqualifies Part 15.247 and imposes the stringent emissions requirement of 15.407 ostensibly in order to avoid interference with radar.

Mimosa – along with WISPA and a number of other wireless equipment vendors – believes that the FCC’s current limits will hurt the usefulness of high gain point-to-point antennas. Mimosa wants FCC to open 10.0-10.5 GHz band for backhaul.

Multi-User MIMO promises to handle large crowds better then Wave 1 802.11ac products since the different users can use different streams at the same time. Public Hotspots serving large crowds will benefit with MU-MIMO but enterprise and carrier-grade gear could be a year away, say industry observers.

The FCC has increased Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, making Comcast and mobile phone operators happy since they can make use of 802.11ac networks, both indoors and out, even utilizing all four channels for up to 1 Gbps wireless networking.

The FCC’s 5 GHz U-NII Report & Order allowed higher power in the 5.150 – 5.250 GHz band.

These FCC U-NII technical modifications are separate from another proposal currently under study by the FCC and NTIA that would add another 195 MHz of spectrum under U-NII rules in two new bands, U-NII 2B (5.350 – 5.470 GHz) and U-NII 4 (5.850 – 5.925 GHz).

Commercial entities, including cable operators, cellular operators, and independent companies seem destined to blanket every dense urban area in the country with high-power 5 GHz service – “free” if you’re already a subscriber on their subscription network
.

WifiForward released a new economic study (pdf) that finds unlicensed spectrum generated $222 billion in value to the U.S. economy in 2013 and contributed $6.7 billion to U.S. GDP. The new study provides three general conclusions about the impact of unlicensed spectrum, detailing the ways in which it makes wireline broadband and cellular networks more effective, serves as a platform for innovative services and new technologies, and expands consumer choice.

Additional Dailywireless spectrum news include; Comcast Buys Cloud Control WiFi Company, Gowex Declares Bankruptcy, Ruckus Announces Cloud-Based WiFi Services, Cloud4Wi: Cloud-Managed, Geo-enabled Hotspots, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook,
FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band, Samsung: Here Comes 60 GHz, 802.11ad, Cellular on Unlicensed Bands, FCC Opens 3.5 GHz for Shared Access, FCC Commissioner: Higher Power in Lower 5 GHz, FCC Authorizes High Power at 5.15 – 5.25 GHz

Opensource Dronecode Project Announced

The Dronecode Project, administered by the nonprofit Linux Foundation, aims to establish common technology for use across the industry. The concept behind Dronecode is to create an open hardware and software stack, where companies can plug in modules for enhanced performance whether it be sensors, piloting, mission planning or other functions. The Android ecosystem is their model.

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Chris Anderson, who started DIY Drones and later 3D Robotics, is behind Dronecode. It utilizes open source hardware and software and includes the APM/ArduPilot UAV software platform and associated code. Examples of Dronecode projects include APM/ArduPilot, Mission Planner, MAVLink and DroidPlanner.

Founding members include 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm, Skyward.io, Squadrone System and others.

PX4 ​is an independent, open-source, open-hardware project aiming at providing a high-end autopilot. The PX4 from 3D Robotics, for example, features advanced processor and sensor technology for controlling any autonomous vehicle.

ArduPilot (also ArduPilotMega – APM), was created in 2007 by the DIY Drones community, based on the Arduino open-source electronics prototyping platform.

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, bring real-time video to all manner of displays.

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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“Open source software and collaborative development are advancing technologies in the hottest, most cutting-edge areas. The Dronecode Project is a perfect example of this,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation.

“By becoming a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, the Dronecode community will receive the support required of a massive project right at its moment of breakthrough. The result will be even greater innovation and a common platform for drone and robotics open source projects.”

See: Columbia River Drones

Alcatel-Lucent: Virtualization Gets Real

Alcatel-Lucent has struck a carrier virtualization partnership with South Korea’s national operator, KT. The two companies have signed a “technical collaboration agreement” that will involve the development of NFV capabilities for KT’s “Giga” Network, based on the vendor’s CloudBand platform, reports LightReading.

KT’s Gigatopia strategy involves building a high-speed, integrated wired/wireless next-gen network that is ready for all manner of future media and data transport and geared up for the Internet of Things. The Cloud-based wireless network approach was largely developed by AlcaLu subsidiary Nuage Networks.

KT chief executive Hwang Chang-gyu urged the world’s leading mobile carriers and manufacturers to collaborate in establishing the so-called “GiGAtopia,” referring to a mobile environment connected through superfast gigabit technology.

Evolved Packet Core is an evolution of the packet-switched architecture used in GPRS/UMTS. The use of individual circuits to carry voice and short messages are now being replaced by IP-based solutions. The radio access network (RAN) provides the radio access technology. Much of that cellular hardware is now being “virtualized” in the data center.

Alcatel-Lucent is delivering virtualized mobile network functions to KT with evolved packet core (EPC), IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and radio access network (RAN).

Cloud RAN virtualizes the hardware. Hardware that was once located on the mast or at the base of a cellular tower is now being replaced by software running in a data center, creating a virtualized radio network. A fiber link connects the remote RF head to the data center. Alca-Lu’s CloudBand platform is one of the leaders bringing cloud computing and IT technologies to wireless networks.

China Mobile showed VoLTE via virtualized network at Mobile World Congress using Alcatel-Lucent’s virtualized proof of concept LTE RAN basestation and virtualized evolved packet core solutions.

The Alcatel-Lucent opened a Customer Network Center in Japan this month. It was created to make the trend towards cloud-based networking, tangible for customers. It will allow for demos and interoperability testing of virtualized solutions over the CloudBand NFV platform to support Alcatel-Lucent’s Japan NFV/Network Transformation initiative which is already under way in Japan.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Light Radio uses smart active antenna arrays to deliver multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) gains and sophisticated beamforming in a very small footprint. RF energy can then be dynamically beamed where it is needed based on changes in cell loading and traffic density.

Saudi Arabia’s Mobily is the first service provider globally to deploy Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio Wireless Cloud Element Radio Network Controller (WCE RNC), a new platform that underpins Alcatel-Lucent’s virtualized LTE RAN activities.

Alcatel-Lucent is collaborating with Intel to speed industry move to cloud-based radio access networks while China Mobile conducted a proof of concept demonstration of Lucent’s Cloud RAN at Mobile World Congress 2014.

Alcatel-Lucent and Qualcomm are collaborating to develop small cell base stations that enhance 3G, 4G and WiFi networks to improve wireless connectivity in residential and enterprise environments.

Small cells aren’t just about adding coverage. Location-based services with targeted marketing and advertising are big drivers.