Everyday Tools that Mobiles Can replace

Like most of us, the Mobile for me is an integral part of my life. Although there are times when I pray that it stops ringing, its still a really important part of my life. All of us will remember in the early days of the mobile phone, there used to be instances of people leaving their phones at home, or forgetting it somewhere. These days its gotten more uncommon for something like that to happen, this just means that its really a good addition to our attire. But, is the mobile phone just popular because of the Calls and Messages (Maybe about 90% usage) or something more. No, I am still not hinting at the uses of the Mobile Phone Camera, which of course is one of my most popular posts here.

If people just wanted Mobile Phones for the calls and messages there would have been no market for the iPhones, the Blackberries and the sorts. So why is the iPhone so popular and why is the Android getting popular so quick ? A 4 letter word, Apps. Yes, its the Apps thats driving people towards the smartphones. Its not just good apps, but really everything that developers are putting up. Some are awesome, and some are pure crap.

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“iPad Killers” from India

The Indian consumer electronics industry is going through a bit of a overhaul. From “Indian” Mobile Phones to various innovative gadgets, the Indian Electronics Industry is definitely giving a good fight to the international players in India like the Nokia’s, the Samsung’s, the LG’s and the likes. It was all play nice, we are the new kids on the block, until they started to make a dent in the markets of these guys. Most of us know that Nokia has not been performing in the smart phone segment, the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer has its strength in the low cost mobile sector, and that is now being challenged by the likes of Maxx Mobiles,Karbon Mobiles, MicroMax and others.

But looks like Indian Companies are not just happy with making a dent. They are now going for the Mother load, Apple and the likes. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know about my obsession with the Innovation in India as well as a bit of a hatred with the iPad. What sparked off this post is actually a re look into the Indian Pioneer who decided to take on the Pi, Infibeam. And what surprised me was that they have an iPad lookalike ready, running both Android and Windows as optional. Yes, you did hear that right ! I thought it would make a nice look at these so called, “iPad Killers” from India. So, here goes.

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Your wallet may soon disappear into your phone

Personally being involved in many discussions, I believe that mos people interested in technology have at some time or the other wondered about the integration of your wallet into your mobile. I am talking about payments to be done through the mobile, or use he mobile as your ID card ? Well if the tech giants of the world have anything to say, it might happen more sooner than you might think. After replacing many of the small gadgets that you might use, and provide additional functionality into the phone like, camera (Check out 18 innovative uses of that phone camera here) , FM Transmitter and receiver, gaming device and many more; the phone giants staring with Apple are now looking to completely replace your wallet into your mobile.

This magic technology is called NFC or near field communication. Although the possibility of doing this has been evident for a long time using RFID tags, its just now. But NFC is coming over in a big way to a mobile near you; all courtesy to Apple. Yes, we know people are suckers for anything Steve Jobs seems to be making and selling including the ridiculous iPad. Getting back to Near Field Communication …

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MIT’s NETRA system brings the system to the optometrist

For those of you who would not know, NETRA in most Indian Languages means Eyesight, A few months back I had shared a concept of few guys trying to give a new vision to change the world, quite literally when scientists came out with oil filled glasses which were of course a bit revolutionary, However there might be a need still to do a check if the person needs some corrective glasses. And while looking for Innovative Applications for my new Nexus One, I stumbled upon the new breakthrough from MIT Labs, a new device out of MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture group utilizes one of the most rapidly proliferating technologies in the developing world – mobile phones – to make the diagnostic process of refractive errors of the eye, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and age-related vision loss, both affordable and accessible to underprivileged populations. NETRA (Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment) uses a phone’s LCD display and intelligent software to administer a quick, effective and accurate vision test that patients can perform at home.

There are two standard ways of determining a patient’s corrective eye wear prescription. One involves looking through a large, clunky device fitted with various lenses swung before the eye until the one that produces the clearest image is found. The other shines a laser into the eye, using an array of tiny lenses to measure the patient’s vision characteristics. But in the developing world, access to these diagnostic systems is both extremely limited and prohibitively expensive.

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My new Toy, the Nexus One

Yes, I got one. Most of you will already know my obsession with Google and Google Products, I am an avid reader and propaganda person when it comes to Google, so it was not a surprise that I did pick the Nexus One as my new Phone. Ever since I bought my first phone, it has always been a Nokia I have gone through quite a few Nokia Phones in the past few years, starting with the 3310, 6610, 6230i, N85 and my last phone which was the N95 8GB. Its been a while since I have been looking for a worthy opponent to Nokia’s best offering so far, thought about the N97 which I thought was great hardware but sloppy software, and even the N900 which again I hesitated to buy cos of the software, Maemo did not last more than 1 device. Nokia lost focus somewhere in the way, although I believe that in the emerging markets they are a tough competition the smart phone segment which seems like the most growing, Nokia is caught unaware. Now I could have waited for the N8, but then the software problems being the last Symbian device would be too much to ignore. All in all with a lot of reluctance I left the Nokia camp.

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The Google phone and how it is made

When I heard rumors of the Nexus One, or the then Google Phone I thought it would be so cool. But then Google did not really admit to making one of these. I guess the Nexus One had to come, considering that the Google Android Platform for Mobiles really took off really with the announcement of the Android Phone. I guess the Nexus One gave the manufacturers the confidence that Google was behind the phone and the Operating software, so the Software must be worth implementing. I have said this before, the future operating system for the Mobiles is not the blackberry or the iPhone Os, but the Android. Anyway here was the video that demoed the Nexus One for the first time.

Moving On, I don’t think most of us imagine how big an effort it takes to actually manifest a phone from concept to actual production. I had thought about the manufacturing process as something of using multipurpose machines that would churn out different phones, but having to program and make robots purpose built for each phone types makes the whole process so much more mind Blowing.

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Android is coming and iPhone will be sorry

If you have been living under a rock for the past year or just woke up from a coma and don’t know what the android is, It is the mobile operating system from Google which is open source and free to use both for phone manufacturers as well as users. Which means that the operating system will enable manufacturers provide devices for a fraction of a cost cheaper than proprietary operating systems like the iPhone OS. So straight off its already better than its apple counterpart, add to it the openness of the platform to add what ever you need as applications makes it even more competitive and flexible. DOnt know what I am talking about? try getting another browser for your iPhone or run a flash based website or a flash based tool on iPhone … not possible. But with the android its all good. Now, android is from Google, which for me tips the scale here add to it Google’s participation in developing the Nexus One and various applications for the platform and you have just the iPhone killer that you are looking for.

I am writing this after I just saw the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 in Dubai, I was more than impressed. If I were not waiting for the Nexus One to reach Dubai, I would have already bought it. The point is I was seriously impressed by the speed and the reactiveness of the phone and the OS. A recent report on Engadget made it visible that Android as an Operating system is now ahead of iPhone in the American Market and just behind the revered Blackberry OS. Unfortunately, there are’nt enough Android Phones in Dubai for me to be able to make a comparison in the local market or for that matter the Indian Market is the same. So, just getting everyone prepared for the onslaught of the Android I am posting a list of applications for the Android that would rival some of the best on the iPhone.

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Google working towards the dream phone

[tweetmeme] A couple of years ago, there was this huge viral success, a Pomegranate phone that would do nearly everything from making your coffee, global voice translation, video projector, harmonica and shaving razor among other standard features of leading current mobile phones at that time. Well it turned out to be just an ad campaign for Nova Scotia and its culture; and of course generate interest in establishing Nova Scotia as a desirable place to live and do business.

Google on the other hand seems to have a lot of interest in futuristic concepts for the world of tomorrow, and this can be sure seen as the popularity of the Search Giant on innovation and technology blogs worldwide. The fact that Google has worked around quite a few interesting technologies is a testimony to them working on those solutions. Starting from the interesting Google Phone the Nexus One, their Android Platform for mobiles, Google Voice,  Google Goggles and the Google Translate application for the phone where you can read a different language on real-time translation, that I wrote about recently.

Well since my last post they have included a new support of text to voice, into their translation service. So now we need can listen to the translation to listen to what it sounds like. If I was writing about Google Why have I included the pomegranate video and all the bullshit about it. Well read the first paragraph again, and try to get the link, well I wont make you read it again, don’t worry. Its voice translation in real-time. Really just like the video, Google real-time voice translation is another service announced by Google.

Real time voice-to-voice translation would be the first attempt of its kind for phones. Google already provides an automatic text translation system on computers and  also has a voice recognition system which enables phone users to search the web or use google maps through speech. Now, Google is working on combining the google translate and its speech recognition system to develop a new voice-to-voice translation for phones. The application would recognize speech in packages and translate them to another language after interpreting the meaning of the original speech. Although Google’s text translation works quite accurately, the speech recognition system has its flaws and Google is now working on improving it.

However, Google is not the only company working on the real-time voice to voice translations.In June 2009  Sakhr, a Gulf based company claims to have already pioneered and developed the voice to voice translations of Arabic to English and is catering the services to clients like Blackberry and iPhone, including the US Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice. Below is a demo video of their software for the Blackberry:

So, interestingly they have started working on one of the technologies from the dream phone, if at all the nexus one made coffee, had a swiss army knife and also shave my face 😉

Google bites off a piece of the Apple

[tweetmeme] Google and Apple have been on it for quite some time, and one seems to be trying to outsmart the other all the time. I have been trying to show the aspects of Apple and Google that inspire innovation. I am a big fan of both Apple as well as Google and Google has always been the one closer to my heart. The rivalry of the two giant companies is beautifully demonstrated in this infographic by GigaOm. However, in terms of attacking emerging markets, Google has taken a bite off Apple, in what the Apple could have done, to what Google have managed to do.

Interestingly, my past few posts have all been about bashing Apple about their “poor performance” with the iPad. Infact I also bought up the aspect of what the iPad could have been. And acting as straight out of the post and the imagination of Mac Funamizu of Petit Invention, Google has just announced at the Mobile World Conference that we do not really need to learn another language. The post about what the iPad could have been, showed what a device about Augmented Reality should be be able to do. Google in an attempt to sort of bridge the gap has come up with their first offering Google Goggles.

Googles Goggles adding an additional feature, has just demoed the application translating some text, at the Mobile World Conference. Here is a demo below.

It’s still in the experimentation phase, but ideally you can just snap a picture of something you need translated — a street sign, a menu, directional aids — and Google Goggles will send your pic to the server and have a response back to you with translated text in seconds.

Will this open up avenues for amazing devices lined up like the Notion Ink Adam, using an Android platform and can make use of more applications like the Layar and Google Goggles. Only time will tell, but this seems to be the first bold forray of Google into Augmented Reality, and we just hope that its not the last.