posted by Bryon Moyer
As part of their recent announcement of FPGAs for sensor management, Lattice also introduced a couple of new devices for their iCE40LP family. From a device standpoint, the key here is the package: a 16-ball chip-scale-package (CSP) measuring 1.4 mm by 1.48 mm, and only 0.45 mm thick.
While this is an extraordinarily small device, and it is a general purpose device (it could even do sensor management for a couple sensors), they have some specific ideas for it. They have teamed the devices up with some IP so that, together, they constitute an infrared subsystem.
This includes logic and electronics for driving the LED, sensing an IR remote, and doing bar code emulation.
The latter is a particularly interesting application for use when trying to display a barcode on a phone for a barcode reader to detect. The problem is that the phone glass will typically reflect the IR light from the reader, preventing it from figuring out the code.
Instead, the IR LED can transmit the equivalent code, which the reader will detect. It probably won’t even know that it didn’t get the code from where it thinks it got the code.
Confused by the concept of FPGAs in a cell phone? Well, we’ve got that covered in a separate article.
You can read more about this new device as well as the new iCE40LM devices in their release.
posted by Bryon Moyer
When you think semiconductors, who comes to mind? Intel? What about back before Intel’s heyday? IBM? Fairchild? The baton got passed in the 80s, and Intel has managed to hang onto it. But not every company can hold on, and even those that do can’t take it for granted forever.
Friendster was once all the thing. Then, after some thrash, MySpace became the thing. Then it was handed off to Facebook. There are still those waiting to see how long before there’s yet another social media handoff.
With phones, Nokia once ruled. The iPhone changed that. And here we talk about more than just sales. In fact, this isn’t really about sales at all (even though, at the end of the day, EVERYTHING is about sales). This is about presence of mind. Who are the thought leaders? Who is setting the innovation pace?
And that’s a mantle that Apple has been able to wear for a long time. Particularly at conferences featuring human/machine interaction, Apple has been the “watch these guys” guy.
But the watchers appear to be shifting their gaze. For the first time, I heard another name used in the slot that, last year, would have contained “Apple.” It was a quick thing, easy to miss. A throwaway comment, even. It wasn’t on a slide, there was no press release, there was no passing of the baton. It was just a statement about… I don’t even remember what, specifically. But one of those “Here’s whom to watch” things. And the company was…. Samsung.
Who also won an innovation award at last week’s MEMS Executive Congress.
Granted, I heard another comment about Samsung throwing so much up against the wall that something will have to stick. Is that innovation? Does innovation involve only directed intelligent design? Or can there be some genetic innovation as well, where different features combine in different arrangements, and the best-selling survives?
We don’t pay so much attention in these pages to sales and such. So we haven’t made a big deal about whether Android was selling more than iPhone. But when the thought leaders change whom they look to as their Chief Thought Leader and someone new gets that title, that seems worthy of note.
posted by Bryon Moyer
We have already looked at some of the touch technology presented at last month’s Interactive Technology Summit. But the same touch and stylus overview presented by Ricoh’s John Barrus addressed another issue: markup.
Much of the touch technology is targeted at large format screens, including interactive whiteboards. But the key to many such devices is interactivity: multiple people in multiple places contributing to the content of the board. Doing that apparently isn’t easy using existing products: he noted that some require 40 hours of training to learn how to use. I frankly don’t know of any company that would agree to losing its team for a week so they can learn to use a whiteboard.
But such collaboration goes far beyond whiteboards. What about document review? In the old days, you printed out an original, made lots of copies that you gave to reviewers, and got back inked-up versions that you integrated. (Full disclosure… I had something of a deserved reputation for exploding red-pen syndrome when I did reviews in my “youth”… But I occasionally got as good as I gave; this scenario is dated, but feels very real.)
Now it’s more typical to use features like the editing and commenting capabilities in Microsoft Word and Adobe’s PDF readers. Those work, but if we had styluses that worked well enough to capture handwriting (which is coming), then it would frankly be easier simply to do old-school written markup electronically.
Whether real-time whiteboard collaboration or piecemeal markup, this activity may take place locally or involve the cloud, so if you took a few minutes, you could probably imagine a variety of situations where such capabilities might be useful.
The problem is, according to Dr. Barrus, there is no universal infrastructure to support this, nor are there standards that everyone agrees on. His suggestion was that we need some. The standard would have to support text and images, of course, but also strokes – including specification of width, color, transparency, end-cap (square vs. round vs. something else), and the like. There are at present four major markup languages (no, HTML doesn’t count, despite its name).
- PDF currently can handle text and images; stroke information would have to be added.
- Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) has some stroke information, but needs such additional things as stroke timing. It also needs to support multi-page documents. It’s XML-based, so it’s easily extended.
- Microsoft has an Ink Serialized Format (ISF), but it doesn’t support text or images.
- InkML is stoke-oriented and has features well suited to handwriting recognition, but it also doesn’t support text or images.
This was largely a call to the industry for action to define the necessary standards. While formal activity has yet to commence, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in helping out.