Friday, September 28, 2007

The Image Of A Mobile (phone) World

Japanese commuters while away the journey by watching TV on their mobiles. Image Credit: David Sacks/Getty

The Image Of A Mobile (phone) World

Portable programmable electronic communication devices, which received their birth forty years ago with the release of the T58 & T59 by Texas Instruments, have come a long way and there is no better place in the world than Japan to judge and assess how far.

The key to this evolution comes down to having the handheld cellphone be an on-the-fly, symbology decoding, self-programming computer. A cellphone with a good processor, a camera, a printed symbology (ie. slang: barcode) and a strong infrastructure can deliver more interaction and information than a WiFi internet connection HotSpot on many applications.

The most amazing application that can be delivered through these means is that a person with a properly programmed cellphone can scan a “3D Barcode” (a colorized QR Code) and the phone decodes the image taken with the camera and delivers to the cellphone screen 20 seconds of video communication to the user. That’s right! … 20 seconds of the latest DVD release from “The Bourne Ultimatum” that might help one to decide to buy this DVD gift for Christmas – for example.

PM Code - Colorized QR Code that can deliver a 20 second video to the users phone screen without the need to be hooked-up to a WiFi HotSpot or incur cellphone call minutes. Image Credit: Content Idea of Asia (CIA)

Furthermore, the cellphone user did not have to use the cellphone radio towers or a WiFi Hotspot to have the handheld perform this amazing feat. The 20 seconds of video came directly from the “Barcode” that the user’s phone took a picture of … and decoded to display.

More mobility application news happening in Japan from The Guardian Unlimited -

Why mobile Japan leads the world
A combination of an urban lifestyle and infrastructure advantages mean that the fixed internet is being left behind by the mobile

Michael Fitzpatrick - The Guardian - Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yasuko San is aiming her mobile at a small, square tattoo on paper, clicking a little and peering happily at the result. Her prize? The latest novel written for the mobile, entitled "Teddy". Such serialised novels for mobiles are just the latest phone application that has caught the Japanese imagination, but - apart from neighbouring South Korea - few others.

Those printed square icons, however, made their debut in the UK earlier this month (to promote the DVD of the film 28 Weeks Later). Known as QR (quick read) codes, they have aided Japan's mobile revolution by making it easy to access a web page via mobile. Users can be directed to sites by snapping the codes printed in magazines, posters and even on biscuits.

PM Code Image as captured via the cellphone camera. Image Credit: Content Idea of Asia (CIA)

Mobile subscribers

Their British outing is a full four years behind Japan's adoption. In fact, we lag Japan in nearly every aspect of mobile use - except possibly in annoying other commuters on trains.

Lost in Japan? Let your mobile's GPS guide you. Bored? Download the latest manga comic or an e-book to read on the train, or go shopping and pay by swishing your mobile in front of the till, because the phone is also an electronic wallet.

You can also collect e-coupons, pay bills, play Final Fantasy, update your blog and pay and check into hotels wirelessly. Soon the airport check-in will be history in Japan, too, as the e-ticket in your phone becomes your boarding pass.

Nearly all are services based on the success of the mobile web in Japan, where in a nation of 127 million the number of mobile internet subscribers recently passed 100 million. Not for nothing are the Japanese now known as the Thumb Tribe - a tribe who, for the most part, prefer their mobile to the fixed internet.

Apart from the killer application - email - 80% say they use other functions too. Downloading music is popular (80% have tried it), as is TV for mobile - half of its subscribers use it regularly. Three quarters of users say they enjoy online clothes shopping with their mobile at least once a month. What they are less keen on is video calling: in Japan, as in the UK, 90% say "no thanks, never". And as for using the mobile as a modem - to link to the internet - that's very expensive in Japan.

It is no wonder those touting m-commerce as the next big web thing tell us Japan is the future blueprint. "Japan is the world's high-tech testbed for a wide range of consumer electronic devices and systems - many of which never see the light of day in overseas markets," says Daniel Scuka, keitai guru and consultant for publishers Wireless Watch Japan. "So keeping up with developments here is vital to knowing what's going to hit Europe and the US 24 months in the future; doubly so with respect to mobile and wireless."

By offering the Japanese a multiplicity of services - and, very importantly, some very cool handsets to use them on - the operators have created what every western mobile service provider is dreaming of: a mobile lifestyle culture that keeps millions reaching for the mobile rather than the fixed internet. But it does have its disadvantages.

Most us would feel miffed if we lost or damaged our mobiles. The Japanese would be paralysed without theirs: nearly half of Japanese confess to being obsessed with their mobile phones.

But why is such technology such a hit in Japan and not in other mobile-savvy nations such as Finland? According to the man who kickstarted the trend - the father of i-mode, NTT DoCoMo's Takeshi Natsuno - it is because of the Japanese genius for designing new technologies that can be adopted by anyone, especially techno-phobes. It's not about "bandwidth, nor standards, nor unique Japanese culture", he says. It is about "fun and convenience".
Demanding consumers

The Japanese are blessed with some of the best-looking technology in the world. It has to be intuitive, simple and high-quality, not because the Japanese are so tech-savvy, but because they are the most demanding consumers in the world.

According to Scuka, more than 100 new phones hit the Japanese market last year as manufacturers tried out new ideas on the public. Some cultural factors, as with any other country, do play a part in Japan's willingness to take up some technologies such as TV on the mobile.

As in Europe, this was at first a washout, but as watching TV in public becomes more socially acceptable in Japan, the number of subscribers is rising. Au, the second largest mobile network in Japan, recently signed up its five millionth subscriber to the service.
It is this urban lifestyle where convenience is the key which has necessitated the rise of the all-in-one mobile plus those very funky handsets. By comparison Apple's iPhone is a mere 2.5G plaything. In Japan, which is already into 3G and heading towards 4G, they make mobiles look good and work hard.
Reference Here>>

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Birth Of Mobility Honored At The Smithsonian

Introduced together with the TI-58 these calculators introduced a novelity, the Solid State Software Modules™ with up to 5000 program steps. On the backside of the TI-58/59 you'll notice a small lid with a place for a module. The Master Library with 25 different programs was included, a lot of other modules were available. Image & Caption Credit: DATAMATH CALCULATOR MUSEUM

The Birth Of Mobility Honored At The Smithsonian

Texas Instruments introduces the handheld calculator and the tools that enhance our business, communications, and entertainment lives ... changed the way we all relate to the world we live in forever.

The consumer electronics revolution (the evolution and packaging of electronic devices that have come to aid our lives over the last forty plus years) also created the enterprise mobility revolution and spawned the competitive growth of many of the retail giants of today.

TELXON PTC-610 ADVANCED HANDHELD COMPUTER - Telxon's PTC-610 proves the old adage that good things come in small packages. From a price/performance standpoint, this small but mighty Portable Tele-Transaction Computer is one of the most advanced, low-cost handhelds in the industry. Image & Caption Credit: OPAL

By employing calculators that were redesigned with built-in memory and barcode symbology scanning capability, small regional companies like Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart employed data collection and accounting techniques that allowed the business effort to outstrip the competition. Timely and correct information about inventory levels was the key to this mega-store retailing growth and enterprise mobility datacollectors that Sam Walton and others utilized was the tool.

Today, the functional capabilities of consumer electronics and enterprise mobility are beginning to blend and become the same. Cellphones, cameras, and computers are morphing into devices that are equally useful to both dedications.

Consumers use cameras on cellphones to capture information through symbology and WiFi (PWC/PWH applications) in much the same way the associates at Wal-Mart or PETCO read symbols (barcodes) to gain information on which to base decisions and lead more successful lives.

The Smithsonian Institute recognizes the beginning of this revolution with a museum honor.

Excerpts from Computerworld -

TI's first handheld calculator is now a museum piece
Smithsonian honors pioneering device; co-inventor remembers 'progress on a daily basis'
By Patrick Thibodeau - Computerworld - September 26, 2007

In 1965, the consumer electronics revolution that would result in PCs,
iPods, smart phones and myriad other electronic devices was still years off. And the predecessors of the integrated circuits that would power such products were being used mostly by the military.

But inside
Texas Instruments Inc., an effort began to change that.

Jerry Merryman was part of a small team at TI given the task that year of creating a handheld calculator. Numerous problems arose, according to Merryman. The calculator had to work at low power, and it required a reliable keyboard and a chip with thousands of transistors. Nevertheless, a working model was delivered 18 months later, in 1967 -- giving TI the world's first electronic handheld calculator.

Merryman was asked at a ceremony held here on Tuesday if he thought the device would have the impact that it did. "No, really," he said. "I thought a few accountants might use them. I thought some engineering students might get them as presents. It was only later that I realized we were kicking off [the electronics] revolution.

TI's calculator became commercially available in 1970 and already is a part of the IT collection at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. The museum also has the original 1967 prototype, which weighed 3 pounds, was encased in aluminum and ran on batteries. At the time the calculator was developed, existing models were heavy desktop devices -- not handhelds.

At yesterday's ceremony, the
Smithsonian expanded its collection to include two of the first programmable calculators, the TI-58 and TI-59.

The Texas Instruments "Programmable 58" (1977) was TI's middle range programmable calculator. The TI58 and TI59 (below) are based on the same design, and are almost identical (In fact, they came with the same manual). The TI58 has 1/2 the internal memory (240/480 steps), and lacks the magnetic cards available on the TI59. The model shown is a 'C' version, which stands for "Constant Memory" - this calculator retains user written programs when powered off. Image & Caption Credit:

"Think about how these innovations affected our lives," said David Allison, a curator at the museum who called TI's calculator a unique device that "touched the lives of all Americans."
Despite the sweeping ambition of the original handheld project, Merryman said the calculator was developed without a set budget. "It was just work that we did in our spare time," he said. Merryman was joined at the Smithsonian's ceremony by another member of the team, James Van Tassel.

A third member, TI engineer Jack Kilby, died in 2005. Kilby invented the integrated circuit at TI in 1958 and later won the Nobel Prize for his work, which included holding 60 U.S. patents.
The initial calculators could handle basic math functions only. Nonetheless, Merryman believes that the devices helped students tackle more difficult problems. And math education is essential, he added.

Lovett said that technical jobs are growing at a double-digit rate in the U.S. But only 17% of undergraduates leave their schools with a math or science degree. In China, that percentage is 52%,he said, and in South Korea, it's 41%
Reference Here>>

In this world of New Media - Mobility is king!

This mobility technology has become the technological backbone of the New Media paradigm. Cellphones with memory, photo capability, & WiFi are the tools that have become citizen (and more, professional) journalism cornerstones.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Big Mac Wave - Mickey D’s RFID Initiative

An employee shows a mobile phone attached with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag reader at a McDonald's store in Shinchon, western Seoul, one week ago, Wednesday. Image Credit: The Korea Times

The Big Mac Wave - Mickey D’s RFID Initiative

Hospitality goes proximity with this new pilot being run at McDonalds stores in Korea.

McDonalds is experimenting with the ultimate line-buster in South Korea, where customers purchase food on their cell phones, which then ring when the order is ready. Most of the phone's communications capabilities and its display are barely used, with customers having to download a McDonald’s application into their phone, and plug a piece of add-on hardware provided by SK Telecom.

Payments can be handled through the cell phone's number (as McDonalds is apparently doing in the South Korea trial) or through an embedded RFID chip, which turns the smartphone into something akin to a contactless credit card.

The add-on used in the trial goes one step further in that it turns the phone into a remote RFID “Touch” order entry device.

Excerpted from The Korea Times –

Hamburger Can Be Ordered Via Mobile Phone
By Cho Jin-seo – The Korea Times Staff Reporter

Good news for those who hate to wait in a queue to get a burger and fries.

McDonald's and SK Telecom Wednesday showed a new ordering system using mobile phones and infra-red sensors which let customers make orders from their table and sends them a phone message when the meal is ready.

The “Touch Order" menu is the first in the world to utilize the radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology in a self-ordering system at a restaurant, SK Telecom said.

“It is a convergence service that utilizes SK Telecom's RFID technology in the restaurant industry," said Lee Joo-sik, senior vice president of business development of the mobile service company. “We hope this partnership with McDonald's, the world's largest restaurant chain, will lay the groundwork for our RFID business on foreign markets."
First, customers have to download a special program onto their handsets using SK Telecom's Nate mobile Internet service. Most phones manufactured after June 2005 can handle the operation, the firm said.

At each table, there are an RFID reader and a menu that has built-in RFID chips. Customers plug the reader into their mobile phones, and point them at the item on the menu that they wish to eat or drink.

The bill is charged through the mobile phone. When the meal is ready, the system sends a short message to the phone so the customer can pick up the ready tray at a designated counter.
SK Telecom has implemented an RFID payment system at several Kyobo bookstores in Seoul. But few have used it to buy books because of the inconvenience of the process.

Reference Here>>

On the surface, this looks to be more of an engineer's dream project as opposed to a practical solution application provided through the convergence of technologies. There just seems to be too many disparate "plug & play" pieces for this to be an advancement of convenience to the consumer.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fingerprint Biometric System Delivers A Sound Solution

Fingerprint points used to identify the unique qualities of ones biometric fingerprint pattern. Image Credit: L-1 Identity Solutions, Inc.

Fingerprint Biometric System Delivers A Sound Solution

When most people think of a machine that scans ones finger in order to gain entry to documents or a place, they think to themselves “well, this is a little like a page scanner capturing text from a document” … and most solutions feature this type of reflective image capture process.

A new process is beginning to find its way into applications that would greatly improve the development of the fingerprint image captured. The technology applied is “Ultrasound” and this approach has some significant advantages over a standard scan approach.

For example, oily, wet or dirty fingers won't be an issue any more when it comes to capturing accurate fingerprints, according to L-1 Identity Solutions, which announced a partnership to produce a fingerprint scan using high frequency sound waves, the same technology used in the medical profession.

Excerpts from SecureID News -

L-1 Identity Solutions and Ultra-Scan develop new live scan device based on ultrasonic imaging
Chris Corum, SecureID News - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

STAMFORD, Conn. -- L-1 Identity Solutions, Inc. announced a partnership with Ultra-Scan Corporation for the development and supply of a revolutionary new live scan biometric fingerprint reader based on ultrasonic imaging technology.

Capturing biometric fingerprint images with high frequency sound waves that are immune to surface conditions extends fingerprint total image accuracy into conditions where it has not been possible before with other scanning technologies. Further, the new device is expected to be significantly smaller and lighter than any solution on the market today. If successful, ultrasonic imaging represents a possible paradigm shift that could supplement or replace optical fingerprint sensors for a number of biometric capture applications.
“Ultra-Scan's fingerprint technology is pushing the science of biometrics to yet another level of performance which will have a broader range of application,” said Robert V. LaPenta, Chairman, President and CEO of L-1 Identity Solutions. “Additionally, utilizing the new, ultrasonic solid state technology developed and patented by Ultra-Scan, these new devices could provide a smaller form factor for mobile and fixed applications, as well as offer a higher level of reliability and ruggedness than presently available.”
Sound Waves Improve the Ability to Capture Fingerprints in Many Applications and Conditions

Fingerprint image developed through reflective light capture optical scanning technology. Image Credit: Ultra Scan Product Brochure

Operating much like a photo copier, optical scanners work well for capturing fingerprint images by taking a photo of the fingerprints placed on the glass surface.
Fingerprint image developed through the ultrasonic scan engine developed and patented by Ultra Scan. Image Credit: Ultra Scan Product Brochure

Ultra-Scan’s technology, which works similar to medical ultrasound, effectively images through “real-world” contamination found on the finger or built up on the platen surface, to always capture a detailed image of the fingerprints being scanned. This low power device will withstand high degrees of shock and vibration making it ideal for a wide variety of applications.
Reference Here>>

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Internet Telephony – Leveraging Assets

Keynote: Norman Stout, MITEL, CEO US Operations - Image Credit: Edmund Jenks, copyright 2007

Internet Telephony – Leveraging Assets

In Los Angeles this week, a conference and tradeshow focusing on technologies and strategies aligned to take advantage of the “New Phone” world was covered over a three day period.

INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO managed by Technology Marketing Corporation, was attended mostly by technically directed operatives. It was, however, extremely informative for those who would be familiar with some of the niche communication applications one might use every day ... but may not have been exposed to the whole picture of phone based communications and systems.

Discussions about matching up analog signals with digital, open systems verses proprietary systems, value-added partnerships, small office / home office, scalability, unified communications, access points, enterprise mobility, internet protocol television (IPTV), and more were engaged and further explored on how all of this can be applied to the internet as a business proposition for profit.

It is an exciting time for the world of business phone systems in that many of the analog systems in place require a heavy investment in infrastructure, yet the business operations that own them would like to take advantage of the digital capabilities the internet can offer.

A couple of efforts focused on leveraging assets that exist and are in use as a normal way of communication and effort management.

One company named VoSKY, leverages the proven technology used by Skype to get the most out of voice over internet protocol (VOIP).

VoSKY Exchange 91xx - Image Credit: VoSKY

This excerpted from the VoSKY website –

The company's flagship product is VoSKY Exchange

A family of enterprise-grade VoIP gateways that allow companies to optimize Skype for the business environment. VoSKY Exchange VoIP gateways seamlessly integrate with existing TDM or IP PBX phone systems and enable business-class applications that help companies reduce communications costs and improve productivity. VoSKY's product line also includes cost-effective consumer VoIP devices for using Skype on any traditional handset, mobile phone, or speakerphone. All VoSKY products have received certification from Skype.
The VoSKY Exchange 91xx is rack-mountable and adds up to eight outgoing Skype lines without changes to existing PBX or phone equipment. Multiple Exchange boxes can be set up to interconnect multiple offices anywhere in the world, enabling free calls between locations. Calls to other Skype users are free, while calls to non-Skype users are charged at low-cost SkypeOut rates or at a flat rate when using Skype Unlimited.

Skype Trunking for your PBX
Skype is the world's largest VoIP network with over 200 million users, and the VoSKY Exchange enables businesses to leverage Skype as a trunking solution for their existing PBX phone systems. Utilizing Skype trunking as an alternative to the PSTN, businesses can substantially save on both domestic long-distance and international calls.

Works with almost any Analog or IP PBX
A major advantage of the VoSKY Exchange is its seamless integration with existing analog or IP PBX phone systems. Businesses are able to preserve the investment in their existing phone systems while enjoying the cost savings and flexibility of Skype without a major forklift in equipment.
Reference Here>>

“Forklift” is an industry term meaning to move existing equipment out and bring all new equipment in. Basically, a total overhaul of the communications system.

Another business effort that updates an existing system is able to utilize commonly available assets is Interactive Intelligence.

Instead of developing innovation from whole cloth, they asked ... why not innovate off of existing and robust software management, database access platforms, and programs developed and proven by Microsoft? This accounts for some of the vision that drives the solutions put forward by Interactive Intelligence.

Microsoft Suite Of Management Software Solutions - Image Credit: Interactive Intelligence

Excerpted and edited from the Interactive Intelligence website –

Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ)

Provides the most innovative contact center and IP telephony products and services available.
Interactive Intelligence solutions are modular in nature, built with proven, award-winning products that push the edge of technology to deliver a truly best-of-class offering.

The company's innovation and experience maximizes customer value with a product line that helps businesses more rapidly respond to change, while reducing the cost and complexity associated with managing interactions.

From sophisticated contact center automation applications - including automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), speech recognition, Web collaboration, remote agent support, supervisory monitoring, predictive dialing, call recording, reporting and more - to SIP-based enterprise IP telephony, unified communications and messaging, and customer self-service, Interactive Intelligence offers a flexible, easy-to-manage alternative to proprietary, hardware-centric solutions.

The Interactive Intelligence product line is ideal for contact centers of all sizes, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), global 1,000 organizations, and large, distributed enterprises, including those with mobile workers. Key vertical markets include financial services, healthcare, legal, and higher education.
Reference Here>>

Interaction Client .NET Screen where the administrator can drag and drop who needs to attend the conference call - Image Credit: Interactive Intelligence

And this recent product announcement from an Interactive Intelligence Press Release –

Interactive Intelligence to Offer Interaction Message Indicator™ for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging Users
INDIANAPOLIS (July 10, 2007)

Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ) is releasing a new standalone Interaction Message Indicator™ application, which monitors Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging mailboxes so that users are alerted to new voicemail messages via a light on their desktop phones.
Interactive Intelligence plans to continue meeting customer demand with additional complementary applications for Exchange Server 2007 UM users, such as personal notification features, according to Staples.

Interaction Message Indicator™ can work with existing third-party phone systems, including the Interactive Intelligence IP PBX. The application offers a Web-based interface designed for easy set-up, administration, monitoring and reporting.

Interactive Intelligence first released its standards-based, single-platform business communications software in 1997 to eliminate the cost and complexity introduced by individual point products. The software offers contact centers and enterprises a wide array of communications applications, including SIP-based voice-over-IP switching, automatic call distribution, speech-enhanced interactive voice response, unified messaging, call recording, and more. It also includes pre-integrated plug-ins for Microsoft Dynamics products, Microsoft Office products, and Office Communications Server.

Interactive Intelligence is unveiling its Interaction Message Indicator™ at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, July 10 to 12, at the Denver Convention Center.
Reference Here>>

Adapting and integrating existing functional processes as a transitional strategy makes sense, especially when the weight of an existing investment in an extensive infrastructure allows for very little change.

So get out there ... leverage those assets! Together, the analog and digital waters are fine.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The PalmOS Is Being De-Fronded With Foleo - UPDATED

Palm's Foleo mobile companion in action – Image Credit: Linux Devices

The PalmOS Is Being De-Fronded With Foleo

The PalmOS ship is being jumped sooner than anyone thought.

Ditched is the Palm operating system with the introduction of the latest mobil form factor device from Palm which features an exciting Linux operating system that the company founder proudly touted saying, "Press a button, it's on. Press it again, it's off. There are no other modes."

The initial Foleo model introduced will be designed for use with Palm's PalmOS - and Windows Mobile-based Treo smartphones. The Foleo will connect to the phone via Bluetooth, and sync up email, email attachments, and contacts with the phone.

Jeff Hawkins (the company founder) said, "This is the smallest device ever with a full-size keyboard. It's got WiFi, Bluetooth, five-hour battery life. People are going to write all kinds of things for this. Mobile email is just the entry point, like the organizer was for the Palm Pilot."

Palm has been working on the Foleo since 2005.

Further, Palm has been awarded several patents that may relate to the device, including "Accessory module for handheld devices".

Excerpts from Ziff-Davis’ Linux Devices -

Palm unveils Linux-based "mobile companion"
Linux Devices (Ziff-Davis) - May 30, 2007 [Updated 5:00 PM PDT]

Palm has used Linux to build a "new class" of mobile device. The Foleo aims to expand the email, Internet, and productivity application capabilities of mobile phones such as the Palm Treo, by adding a full-size keyboard and a larger screen.

Palm introduces the Foleo that features the new Linux OS. Palm has been working on the Foleo since 2005. Image Credit: Linux Devices

Very few details about the Foleo are known at this point. Opera, which supplied its Opera 9 browser for the device, has confirmed the Foleo to be based on Linux. For its part, Palm has published a few photos and brief videos of the device, while promising to release more details tomorrow.

In one video, Palm Founder Jeff Hawkins said Palm plans to ship a complete line Foleo devices supporting a wide variety of mobile phones. He predicts that the Foleo will be more successful than Palm's original Palm Pilot, which he designed, and more successful than its current Treo smartphones, which he helped design.

Hawkins emphasized that initial Foleo models will be focused on expanding the email capabilities of Palm's Treo smartphones. A physical button on the device opens an email client that keeps itself synchronized with the email client on the user's smartphone. Similar capabilities for office documents are also planned.
Given its advanced power management, and use of Opera's Opera 9 for Devices browser, it's no surpise that the Foleo is based on an ARM processor. Palm would not say which one, however. One possibility is Intel's Xscale processors, which Palm uses in Treo smartphones. Another is Freescale's ARM11-based i.MX31, which recently gained an Opera 9 port.

The Foleo weighs 2.4 pounds, according to reports, and sports a "full-size" keyboard with an 18mm keypitch, as speculated in ISO standards, Hawkins said. Navigation is done via a TrackPoint nub in the keyboard, while a roller wheel below the keyboard offers fast scrolling.

The Foleo's bright 10.2-inch color screen has a resolution of 1024x600, while the device's video out port runs at 1024x768 (SXGA) resolution, to accommodate standard projectors during PowerPoint presentations.
User storage will be expandable via a CompactFlash slot beneath the battery, as well as via a removable SD card. I/O includes USB, Bluetooth, and Wifi.

Claimed battery life is five hours, "even while using WiFi the entire time," according to
PC Magazine coverage available here.
Marketing VP Paul Cousineau commented, "Some things that are easy to do in Palm OS are hard to do in Linux. Like instant app switching and long battery life, which are inherent in Palm OS."

In addition to the Opera 9 browser, the Foleo's software stack will include DataViz's DocumentsToGo application, aimed at letting users edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.
Concurrent with device availability, Palm plans to release an open SDK (software development kit) aimed at helping build a developer community around Foleo hardware.

Palm expects to ship the first Foleo devices this summer, priced at $500 after a $100 rebate.

Reference Here>>

For the executive on-the-go, this Foleo may be just the handy enterprize mobility device for quick infromation access.

UPDATE - Friday 9-7-2007:

Not so fast. Put the fronds back on the PALM tree!

At the end of the day, Tuesday, the CEO of Palm, in a posting on the company's official weblog, announced that Palm would be terminating the Foleo as a product effective immediately.

Excerpted from C|NET News -

Palm cancels first-generation Foleo
Posted by Tom Krazit - September 4, 2007 2:32 PM PDT

Faced with biting criticism of the Foleo, a Linux-based psuedo-laptop gadget, Palm has decided to cancel the first generation of the device.

Palm CEO Ed Colligan broke the news (ed.) Tuesday after the close of the stock market.

Just last week, a financial analyst predicted that Palm would have to delay the Foleo's launch until September or October because of serious software-related bugs, but Colligan decided to kill the entire project instead.

"In the course of the past several months, it has become clear that the right path for Palm is to offer a single, consistent user experience around this new platform design and a single focus for our platform development efforts. To that end, and after careful deliberation, I have decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion product in its current configuration and focus all of our energies on delivering out next generation platform and the first smartphones that will bring this platform to market," Colligan wrote on Palm's blog. Calls to Palm representatives were not immediately returned.

Palm unveiled the Foleo at the D: All Things Digital conference in May to widespread skepticism, despite the fact that Palm founder Jeff Hawkins considered it "the best idea I've ever had." The Foleo is basically an underpowered laptop that's designed to give Treo users a break from typing e-mails on a small phone keyboard. However, few could figure out why smart phone users--who ostensibly own a laptop already--would want to buy a separate $499 device that could do little more than send e-mails.

Colligan said that Palm is still working on Foleo II in conjunction with Hawkins. But Palm has to focus on updating the Treo and getting the newest version of Palm OS--now based on Linux--to market before tackling a new category like the Foleo. Palm will take a $10 million charge associated with the cancellation of the product, he wrote.
Reference Here>>

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I’d Rather Do It Myself!

Fujitsu U-SCAN self-checkout station. Image Credit: Fujitsu

I’d Rather Do It Myself!

America is really becoming more self-reliant.

We all would rather do it ourselves according to a study just released by a global research and advisory firm specializing in technologies for the retail and hospitality industries.

IHL Consulting Group, based in Franklin, Tenn., issued a report that confirms the growth and acceptance of people preferring to wait on themselves when paying for the goods they purchase in most shopping environments.

What is probably the most astonishing fact that the IHL study brought forward is that the higher the income level of the shopper, the greater the acceptance of “Self- Checkout”.

This excerpted from eWeek -

Report: Self-Checkout Usage Soared 24 Percent Last Year
The IHL study found consumers spent more than $137 billion in retail self-checkout in 2006
By Evan Schuman, Ziff Davis Internet - September 6, 2007

Consumers spent more than $137 billion in retail self-checkout in 2006, with increased self-checkout use in do-it-yourself stores, supercenters and warehouse clubs mostly responsible, according to an IHL study released Sept. 6.

That's 24 percent more than was checked out by consumers in 2005, IHL said.

The study also reported that consumer resistance to the machines is starting to dilute, with 44 percent saying they "really like self-checkout" and only 9 percent saying "they will not use the technology," IHL said, citing its 1,000-consumer survey conducted in the spring and summer this year.

The survey confirmed what most would expect, which is that acceptance of the device increases sharply as consumers use the machines more. Although some of that can be explained by consumers "getting used to" the interface, another fact is the self-selecting nature of that question. In other words, consumers who don't like self-checkout are not likely to use it more than once or twice.

"The more retailers can provide an incentive for people to use self-checkout to get past this hump, the more of their checkouts can be converted to self-checkout," the report said.

The survey broke consumers down into geographic and income categories, finding that Southern consumers are slightly more inclined to embraced self-checkout, as are consumers earning more than $100,000 a year. The report theorizes that higher-income consumers travel more and are therefore exposed to self-ticketing kiosks at train stations and airports. In this case, the theory goes, familiarity breeds acceptance.
Reference Here>>

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Form Factor Is The Measure Of All Mobility

The handheld 'cool thing.' - Call it an unfettered kiosk designed to get shoppers to pick it up, play with it, and, most importantly, receive personalized marketing messages. Image Credit: Motorola

Form Factor Is The Measure Of All Mobility

New product configuration may prove to be a big hit and not just because an industry leader makes the introduction.

The marriage of Motorola and Symbol Technologies had its logical understandings and now that the first year is nearly in the books … the introduction of the MC17 shows how the mobility lineage may actually bring solutions to the next level of commercial usefulness.

Designed to become the technology version of a personal shopper, the MC17 becomes dedicated, when programmed properly, and in tune to the shopper’s needs when the shopper swipes his or her loyalty card. From then on through the shopping experience, the hand held computer uses the shopper’s stored database information to inform and assist the shopper in finding specials based upon the shopper’s personal shopping habits.

The customer also aides in the shopping experience by using the MC17 as the ultimate in self checkout. Each item the customer puts into the cart is scanned by the customer which, when done properly, will speed up the checkout process.

MC17 - A tool to assist in the personal shopping experience. Image Credit: Motorola

Excerpts from Jupiter Online Media’s, –

Kiosks You Can Carry

By Erin Joyce - Enterprise - June 5, 2007

calls it the next generation retail solution with enterprise mobility technology. But the company just wants shoppers to call its latest wireless device a cool thing, and use it.

Either way, Motorola's latest foray into enterprise technology products is in full swing with the third-generation release of its MC17 mobile computer device for retailers.
If that approach helps drive more sales, then those happy retailers are also happy customers of Motorola.

The MC17 symbolizes another extension of the self-service stations that are growing more popular at retail outlets such as grocery stores and pharmacies, said Chris Ciervo, a product manager for Motorola.

Unlike stationary scanners in retail stores these days, this device is a handheld kiosk that does more than provide look-up information in the store. It also sends affinity information to participating customers when they swipe their shopping card next to the scanner.

"What we're seeing today is a little more of this emphasis" in new store layouts, he told "It can be in a rack when customers walk into the store. Then, they can pick them up, scan their loyalty information, then start their shopping process.

It's also available to do things like stock lookup, inventory and to help with line-busting," a term used by retailers to help break up long lines at traditional checkouts in stores.

In a sense, the self-service checkout functionality more shoppers experience has now moved into the store aisles, Ciervo noted.

"It's actually doing all that scanning while they shop. The value to the retailers is that, instead of when they check out, they have a point of activity to push various forms of content down to the consumer as they're putting items in their baskets. Those are the cross-selling opportunities. So there are potentially greater opportunities for a larger basket size."

The target markets for the product include retail environments such as mass merchandisers, grocery department stores and pharmacies.

The twist on this launch are the contextual suggestions the device collects and pumps out (assuming the person is participating in an affinity program) when the shopper is actually traipsing the aisles. In addition, the MC17 can be used for gift registry in department and specialty stores.
It's not Motorola's only move to gain market share with businesses. Last November, it snapped up privately-held Good Technology in order to spice up mobile applications for business users, most notably for its Q smartphone.

The MC17 deploys the Windows CE 5.0 operating system and uses the PocketBrowser from Motorola to enable developers to build mobile applications for enterprises, such as printing and bar code scanning. And, of course, it's compatible with prior Symbol systems too.

So is Motorola concerned that some customers might walk off with the devices? Not at all. Motorola's Seldon Safir, a director of product marketing for the company's enterprise mobility division, said the device would emit beeps to let the store know it has left the building.

Then again, RFID tags are also a specialty of Motorola's Symbol division. Look for the kiosks to deploy more uses of those in the future, too.
Reference Here>>

The MC17 is set to be priced at $995 and should prove to be a real hit for the retailer that has a solid interactive vision for its implementation. Only problem is ... it needs a catchy name ... any suggestions?