Posts Tagged ‘smart phones’

Are smart phones heading to become a universal service?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 by Roberto Saracco

Smart phones are rapidly becoming the object of desire in the younger generation, given their capability to support a variety of applications. Business men are also quick in their adoption. All together we have seen their market share growing significantly in the well to do markets. In terms of overall percentage they represent a tiny fraction of cell phones, since the lion share now, and in the next few years is represented by those bought in the developing countries, mostly China, India and Brazil that are very low cost cell phones.

The iPhone App leveraging crowd sourcing to report problems to the municipalities

The iPhone App leveraging crowd sourcing to report problems to the municipalities

At the recent Future Cities workshop I participated at the MIT Anthony Townsend, the director of the Institute for the Future pointed out that with a smart phone it is possible to measure the pulse of a city, leveraging on sensors that are embedded in the phone and on its capability of hosting applications to crunch data. He mentioned the apps running on the iPhone developed by the municipality of Boston that exploits the accelerometer in the iPhone to detect bumps in the roads. Linking this data with the localization data and performing a statistical evaluation of messages received the municipality can be informed of the presence of potholes in the roads and take action.

You can use the cell phone to detect bacteria and viruses, pollen and particulate: the number of data that will be possible to create through a smart phone will keep growing and smart cities and smart environment can be “smart” by processing these data.

Low grade cell phones do not have these capabilities and Townsend pointed out the increasing gap created by this technology a Smart World that is smart only for the rich (or well to do).

Should we go back to the concept of universal service and impose by law a certain minimum set of features that any phone has to support? But is this feasible in developing countries where 15 $ phones have a market?

It is indeed a Catch 22 dilemma: we can exploit the Information Society by making use of what the most advanced technology can provide but at the same time by doing that we are restricting most of its benefit to those who can afford. And here we are not talking about fancy screens you can live without but services to save cost, energy, proactive medicine, better nutrition…

Is technology widening the gap between the have and the have nots?

Is it going to be a smartphone future or a tablet one?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 by Roberto Saracco

I just read an interesting blog on “How Apple could become the world’s biggest tech company”

Take a look at it. There are several interesting issues being raised but the one I like to discuss here is what will the future in our hands be like at the end of this decade. Are we going to have smart phones or tablets by the end of this decade to dominate the landscape?

Clearly the form factor is important and it is difficult to imagine something that does not fit a pocket to be always with us (I use the pocket since the bag for the other half of the sky is much larger). Hence, my first pick would be a smartphone. I do not believe that within this decade we will have a screen woven in our shirt (at least not in any shirt…) so a specific device to interface with the network will still be required.

On the other hand tablets will be probably replacing PCs and Laptops in most homes and will be equipped with wireless connectivity (LTE and local area wireless) and therefore they will likely be used for communication within the home (and the office, our and our client’s office).

The Smartphone “form factor” convenience is also its limit and I bet we will be using it along with tablets. More and more we will see tablets integrated in objects (I am sure that by the end of this decade many homes will have the small table in front of the couch embedding a tablet, a big one…) and biometrics will ensure that we are able to transform any interface into our interface.

Technologically speaking, the diversity that has set smart phones apart from computers is likely to fade away and this will bring companies like Dell, Lenovo, HP on the same turf of Nokia, Motorola, Sagem… Samsung and Apple, of course, are already there and this may be a strong competitive advantage.

As Telecom Operators I am convinced that there is no chance for us in the device domain but we may have a chance, and a big one, in the virtualization of the device.

Google Goggles: The Big G approach to the Augmented Reality.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 by Giuseppe Piersantelli


Google is entering the world of augmented reality by taking the advantage of its numerous and powerful assets which, actually, required important investments in terms of data and information – indeed Google can rely on one of the largest database of pictures, videos, maps, views and metadata ever.

Basically, the new beta application announced and later launched by Google is an exciting example of visual search which can be performed by browsing the reality through the a cameraphone’s display. By the way, the device is now Android based but other mobile platforms will be available in the future, thus a roadmap has not been disclosed yet. Here you can read (among the other experiments) Google Goggle official announcement.

There have been visual search applications like Nokia Point&Find, Kooaba, which you can find information of movie posters and books directly shooting picture with mobile phone. And also augmented apps for discovering restaurants that you are looking for. Now google has entered this field with their aggregated technologies. It’s called ‘Google Goggles’, simply more powerful and practically reachable for the Android mobile users.

In this page, readers can learn the basics of Google Goggle (playing with words can be a serious game, sometimes): according to Google Mobile Blog, the application installed on a smartphone equipped with Android 1.6 

identifies landmarks, works of art, and products (among other things), and in all cases its ability to “see further” is rooted in powerful computing, pervasive connectivity, and the cloud:

  • We first send the user’s image to Google’s datacenters
  • We then create signatures of objects in the image using computer vision algorithms
  • We then compare signatures against all other known items in our image recognition databases; and
  • We then figure out how many matches exist; and
  • We then return one or more search results, based on available meta data and ranking signals; and
  • We do all of this in just a few seconds

Apart from the technical details, the most impressive aspect of Google’s approach to Augmented Reality is that Google actually owns or manages most of the parts that the ecosystem is made of (maps, images, Streetview, users’ profile, advertisment tools, web analytics…); plus, Google Android is becoming more and more popular in mobile smartphones, which can be considered as the gateway to access the most innovative and personalized (and lucrative, why not) services ever.

 Google Goggles Visual Search


So far, Mountain View giant states that the new application can provide the following functionalities: Recognize Bookcovers, Landmarks, Wine labels, Business Card, and Logos by taking picture. While 2d object recognition is not particlarly new to us (we have already written about Amazon, SnapTell and Barnes&Noble amazing apps), the server-side performed landmark recognition is pretty good and promising: Google owns and manages (again) bunch of information about places and scenes which can be watched through a cameraphone equipped with GPS and internet connection.

We can expect that one of the next steps in Google’s AR services may be realted to the ability of showing advertisments associated to places, streets, display windows, buildings… How many scenarios ad service concpets can we imagine after counting all the pieces of Google Ecosystems? Many, according my educated guess. And it’s so exciting. Google has spent so many resouces to turn the reality into bits. It’s not a technological issue (anymore): from now on, it’s a matter of designing service concepts, drawing use cases and conceiving commercial and strategical deals between the ecosystem’s players. In a few words, it’s a matter of monetizing digtalized information. mobile application finds books, DVDs.

Friday, July 24th, 2009 by Giuseppe Piersantelli
Smart phones are becoming powerful marketing tools to improve product sales. The digital camera of a smartphone can help people to recognize objects and products, get relevant information, read reviews and purchase them.

For instance, Amazon has recently released an application for iPhone to find information (and more) about  books, DVDs and audio CDs. Users can take a picture of the cover of a book or DVD; the application compresses the picture, sends it to Amazon, performs a search in their databases and retrieves relevant information. Please watch the following video which shows how app works.