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Highlights From Mobile World Congress 2009

Photonics.com
Feb 2009

Solar Power, Projection and Wristwatch Phones Featured


BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 18, 2009 -- The first completely solar full-touchscreen phone, a “Dick Tracy” -style wristwatch phone, and the first pico projector chip set and mirasol displays are just some of the new products introduced in Barcelona this week at GSMA Mobile World Congress 2009, the mobile industry’s largest annual event.
HTCMagic.jpg
HTC's second Android-based smart phone, the HTC Magic, available in Europe this spring through Vodaphone.
However, for tech writers, bloggers and others attending the show, perhaps the biggest news was the lack of new phones running on the Android operating system developed by Google. HTC Corp., maker of the first Android-based phone, the T-Mobile G1, did demonstrate a new Android phone, the HTC Magic, with partner Vodafone.

Samsung told Reuters that it will release three handsets based on Android during 2009, while Acer said it will release two. Sony Ericsson also said it plans to release phones using Android in the future.

The HTC Magic smart phone, Vodafone’s first powered by the Android OS, will be available in Europe in the spring. A tablet-style device, HTC Magic has a 3.2-in. QVGA touchscreen display and features a trackball and navigational buttons. The phone will be available in white in the UK, Spain and France, black in Germany and in both colors in Italy.
BlueEarth.jpg
Samsung Electronics' Blue Earth, the first solar-powered full touchscreen phone. (Photo: Samsung Electronics)
On Monday, the first day of Mobile World Congress, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. unveiled Blue Earth, the first solar-powered full touchscreen phone. Samsung introduced the phone under its “Eco-living” commitment to protect the environment. Blue Earth, which has a solar panel on its back, is made from recycled plastic extracted from water bottles. The device, including its charger, is also free from harmful substances such as brominated flame retardants, beryllium and phthalate.
The phone’s “eco mode” interface lets users set screen brightness, backlight duration and Bluetooth to an energy-efficient mode with one click. The “eco walk” function has a built-in pedometer and calculates how much CO2 emissions the user has reduced by walking rather than riding. The phone’s packaging is made from recycled materials.

LG also unveiled an eco-friendly mobile phone equipped with a solar panel battery cover as part of its green initiative. The phone’s solar power system is embedded onto the battery cover.
LGSolarPhone.jpg
LG's eco-friendly mobile phone has a solar panel batter cover and earth-friendly packaging. (Photo: LG)
By pointing the phone’s solar panel at natural light, the panel will convert solar energy into electricity without needing to be plugged in. Exposing the panel to the sun for 10 minutes will give the phone enough power for a three-minute call, making it ideal for emergency situations when no power is available to charge a dead battery, LG said. If left in natural light for long periods, the solar panel creates enough standby power to power the phone without any charging devices. LG plans to release the phone in the European market at the end of this year.

LG is also displaying its LG HFB-500 Bluetooth solar car kit, first introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month. It provides hands-free mobile use in a fully rechargeable solar unit. LG is also introducing green packaging for its entire 2009 line of mobile handsets and said it plans to make its handsets free of hazardous halogenated substances by 2010 and will make all handsets antimony-free by 2012. 

The curiosity factor was high for LG’s GD910, a touch wristwatch phone with a 1.43-in. screen and 3G Video Telephony and GSM Network capabilities. In addition to keeping time, the watch phone can send text messages and make phone calls via its touchscreen interface. Other features include voice recognition and text to speech capabilities. The phone caused a sensation when it debuted at CES, LG said.
WatchPhone.jpg
LG's Dick Tracy-like GD910, a touch wristwatch phone that can send text messages and make video phone calls. (Image: LG)
The 13.9-mm-thick watch phone has a tempered glass face and metal casing and can be used to make video calls. It is the first touch watch phone to feature 7.2 Mb/s 3G HSDPA compatibility, enabling high-speed data transmission and video phone calls using the built-in camera, LG said.

“Our new 3G touch watch phone is stylish, sophisticated and the height of technology, but it’s also undeniably fun. How else can you reenact those scenes from your favorite sci-fi or spy movie?” said Dr. Skott Ahn, president and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Co. “LG is the first company to introduce a mobile phone with the wearable device technology.”

The phone also includes stereo Bluetooth and a built-in speaker for playing back music files; Orange will bring the watch phone to the European marketplace later this year.

LG Electronics also announced the LG-GM730, the first smart phone to feature the new version (6.5) of Windows Mobile OS, which will be available in the first half of 2009. HTC’s Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2 will also feature Windows Mobile 6.5, but won’t be introduced until near the end of 2009. The highly anticipated Windows Mobile update includes a more finger-friendly interface with a hexagon-style menu system and Flash support and other options for Internet browsing.

“The latest iteration of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile experience offers a more attractive, consumer-friendly face than previously but lacks any real ‘wow’ factor, following as it does in the wake of others that were there earlier,” said Tony Cripps, principal analyst at global consulting firm Ovum. “Version 6.5 of the OS itself offers a new home screen, featuring hexagonally organized application shortcuts as well as live notifications of message and content updates. The OS is further enhanced through integration with cloud services, including personal information sync (My Phone) and the now obligatory application store (Windows Marketplace for Mobile). These are essentially clones of similar services from Apple (App Store and MobileMe) and Nokia (Ovi Store and Sync) and further indicative of a move by device software vendors and manufacturers towards better integrated device/online service offerings.”

Texas Instruments (TI) announced the newest chip set in the DLP (digital light processing) Pico line will be available in late 2009. The raisin-sized chip contains an array of up to 2.2 million microscopic mirrors which switch incredibly fast to create a high resolution, full-color image, yet is small enough to embed into the most compact mobile phones and PDAs.

“Building upon the success of the first DLP Pico chip set [introduced at Mobile World Congress last year], which has HVGA resolution...this new chip set increases performance benchmarks,” said Frank J. Moizio, manager, DLP Emerging Markets business. “The new chip set provides WVGA resolution, higher brightness and power efficiency; all while enabling thinner, smaller optical engine modules to meet the demands of contemporary handheld devices.”
SamsungShowi7410.jpg
Samsung's Show i7410, available soon in Europe and Korea (model name: W7900) is the first Samsung mobile phones to include a projector, courtesy of Texas Instruments' DLP Pico chip set. The OLED touchscreen phone can project images of 50 in. or more, depending on ambient light conditions. (Photo: Samsung)
Samsung and TI announced the first Samsung mobile phones with embedded projection provided by the DLP Pico chip set. The Samsung projector phones will be available in February in Korea (model name: W7900) and soon in the European market (model name: i7410), TI said. No word on when it might be available for US consumers.

The projector phone, which features a high-resolution color OLED (organic LED) touchscreen with “flick” navigation and gesture recognition, can project content with flexible image sizes much larger than traditional phone screens. Images in excess of 50 inches are possible depending on ambient light conditions.

TI also demonstrated the latest Android mobile platform running on its Zoom OMAP 3 mobile development processor. The Zoom OMAP 3 is used by the new Palm Pre smart phone that runs on Palm’s WebOS. According to TI, the enhanced multicore Zoom OMAP 4 chip set will support Windows Mobile, Symbian, and all Linux-based OSs, including Android and WebOS. The processor can record HD video, shoot 20-MP images and play MP3s for seven days on a single battery charge.

Qualcomm Inc. announced that it has moved its mirasol displays into smart phones for the first time with the release of the Inventec V112 by Qualcomm MEMS Technologies Inc. of San Diego and Taiwan electronics company Inventec Corp., and the Cal-Comp iT-810 handset by Qualcomm MEMS and Cal-Comp Electronics, a unit of Taiwan's Kinpo Electronics. The Cal-Comp iT-810 handset is a lightweight (74 g), candy-bar style mobile phone that incorporates a 1.2-inch bichrome mirasol display with a resolution of 130 ppi (128 × 96 pixels).InventecV11Smartphone.jpg
The Inventec V112 is one of the first smart phones to feature Qualcomm Inc.'s mirasol displays. The mirasol screen is a 1.1-in. secondary display below the main touchscreen. The mirasol display works by using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to reflect llight to specific wavelengths. It requires no backlighting, even in direct sunlight. (Photo: Inventec Corp.)
The Inventec V112 features a 1.1-in. bichrome touchscreen mirasol display as a secondary screen below the main full-color touchscreen display. The V112 saves power by redirecting display content from the primary display to the low-power mirasol. The mirasol touchscreen also displays information including time, incoming call, missed call, e-mail and text message alerts, as well as MP3 song titles and track ID information.

The mirasol display works by using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology to reflect light to specific wavelengths that interfere with each other to create color. It is based on a reflective technology called interferometric modulation (IMOD), harnessing ambient light and requiring no backlighting, even in direct sunlight, allowing it to consume significantly less power than standard display technologies.

“It has been a successful year for Qualcomm’s mirasol displays with the addition of several consumer electronics customers,” said Jim Cathey, vice president of business development for Qualcomm MEMS Technologies. “Announcing the compelling design of the Inventec V112 smart phone featuring a mirasol display is another step forward for Qualcomm MEMS Technologies in expanding our reach into new markets.”

Qualcomm MEMS also announced at the event that it has signed an agreement with LG Electronics to begin developing color mirasol-enabled handsets.

“With the display’s low-power capabilities, LG can see how our customers could be able to take advantage of sophisticated mobile applications for longer periods of time and view it across a range of lighting environments,” said DooWhan Sang, vice president of LG Electronics.

Qualcomm and Nokia, who settled a three-year patent fight last summer, announced they plan to develop advanced mobile devices for North America featuring Symbian OS software by incorporating Qualcomm's Mobile Station Modem (MSM) series chip sets into Nokia phones. The first devices are expected to launch in mid-2010 and will be compatible with the forthcoming Symbian Foundation open source platform.

Broadcom Corp. demonstrated a mobile phone reference design platform for new multimedia applications based on the Android Open Source Project.

“Our VideoCore III mobile multimedia architecture enables users to capture, play and upload high-definition [720p] video, shoot high quality photos up to 12 megapixels, and play advanced 3-D games, providing a fully immersive wireless web 2.0 experience,” said Mark Casey, vice president and general manager of Broadcom's Mobile Multimedia business.SonyEricssonIdou.jpg
Sony Ericsson’s Idou features a 12-MP camera and a full touchscreen that can display video in 16:9 widescreen format. (Photo: Sony Ericsson)

 Sony Ericsson showed a mobile phone under the concept name Idou, a name that will change once the product hits the market in the second half of 2009. Idou features a 12.1-MP camera and a full touchscreen that can display video in 16:9 widescreen format. The phone will operate on what will become the Symbian Foundation operating system.

Universal Chargers Coming

The GSMA and 17 leading mobile operators and manufacturers announced that they are committed to developing, by 2012, a cross-industry standard universal charger for new mobile phones, a move they said could potentially eliminate up to 51,000 tons of duplicate chargers and simplify mobile phone charging. Adopting a common format for charger connections and energy-efficient chargers could not only cut energy consumption in standby mode by half, they said, but allow consumers to recharge their phones anywhere from any available charger.

The universal charger will use micro-USB as the charging interface. The group agreed that by Jan. 1, 2012, the majority of all new mobile phone models available will support a universal charging connector and the majority of chargers shipped will meet the high efficiency targets set out by the OMTP (Open Mobile Terminal Platform), the industry body who developed the technical requirements behind a universal charging solution (UCS).

The initial group of companies who have joined the GSMA's UCS initiative include 3 Group, AT&T, KTF, LG, mobilkom austria, Motorola, Nokia, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telenor, Telstra, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

Other notable news coming out of the Mobile World Congress included an announcement by Alcatel-Lucent about 4G.

For more information, visit: www.mobileworldcongress.com

See also: Cell Phone Trends for 2009 

Melinda Rose
melinda.rose@laurin.com


GLOSSARY
backlighting
The forming of a clear silhouette of an object by placing a light source behind it. Used in machine vision when surface features of an object are not important.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
video
Referring to the bandwidth and spectrum location of the signal produced by television or radar scanning.
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