Saturday, February 23, 2008

Short Range Proximity Communications Breakthrough

GiFi (60GHz "millimetre wave" spectrum wireless communications) may have a function effect on all consumer and appliance electronics. Image Credit:

Short Range Proximity Communications Breakthrough

Short-range wireless technology is a hotly contested area for technology development. Many research teams around the world are racing to be the first to make and have embedded into small display devices, proximity technology that would deliver the capability to transfer a high volume of data at high-speed.

The assumption is that every display device (TV, cellphone, PDA, computer, portable game handset) would benefit from having the ability to be within 30 to 40 feet from a transmission source and be able to display high quality video images.

Applications range from having an information kiosk right in ones hand to high density/high speed data transfers from handset to computer or computer to TV and any combination therein.

Japan's NEC Corp unveiled a prototype cellphone handset capable of receiving digital broadcasting signals, enabling users to not only make calls and take photos, but to watch TV. Image Credit:

Examples: One goes to a movie retailer, and 1) samples a movie from a kiosk via the cellphone display, decides to 2) purchase the movie for viewing later on ones home entertainment system – on the way home, one walks up to a transit terminal and 3) finds the best bus route to make it back home and 4) purchases the fare. At home, the movie is 5) transmitted and transferred to the computer or the home entertainment system for viewing.

This string of functionality can be made possible without a camera/scanner and is compatible to be embedded via a small computer chip that can be placed on circuit boards of any consumer appliance or device which would make them “GiFi” capable (60GHz "millimetre wave" spectrum wireless communications). Wireless, high speed, anywhere, anytime, any device, within 30 to 40 feet proximity … and nearly free – now that is a revolution in short range communicative power.

GiFi chips are smaller and more powerful than Bluetooth. GPS Chips -The smallest chip is the newest GPS chip from SiRF, the middle one includes a Bluetooth connection (for a wireless connection with other devices that can use GPS coordinates), the top one is last year’s GPS chip. Image Credit: Tarmo Virki

This excerpted from Fairfax Digital’s, The Age -

$10 chip puts Australia on the fast track
Nick Miller - The Age - February 22, 2008 - 1:18PM

A new silicon chip developed in Melbourne is predicted to revolutionise the way household gadgets like televisions, phones and DVD players talk to each other.

The tiny five-millimetre-a-side chip can transmit data through a wireless connection at a breakthrough five gigabits per second over distances of up to 10 metres.
The "GiFi" was unveiled today at the Melbourne University-based laboratories of NICTA, the national information and communications technology research centre.

Professor Stan Skafidis of Melbourne University. Image Credit: Neil Newitt

"I believe in the longer term every consumer device will have this technology," said project leader, Professor Stan Skafidas, who with his team spent almost a decade developing the chip.
Professor Skafidas said his team is the first to demonstrate a working transceiver-on-a-chip that uses CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) technology - the cheap, ubiquitous technique that prints silicon chips.

This means his team is head and shoulders in front of the competition in terms of price and power demand. His chip uses only a tiny one-millimetre-wide antenna and less than two watts of power, and would cost less than $10 to manufacture.

It uses the 60GHz "millimetre wave" spectrum to transmit the data, which gives it an advantage over WiFi (wireless internet). WiFi's part of the spectrum is increasingly crowded, sharing the waves with devices such as cordless phones, which leads to interference and slower speeds.

But the millimetre wave spectrum (30 to 300 GHz) is almost unoccupied, and the new chip is potentially hundreds of times faster than the average home WiFi unit. However, WiFi still benefits from being able to provide wireless coverage over a greater distance.
For Professor Skafidas, the chip is several breakthroughs in one. It includes a world-first power amplifier that is only a few microns wide, with a micron being one 300th the width of a human hair.

It also has world's first signal mixing and filter technology, and a switch that isolates the transmitter and receiver so they do not interfere with each other.
There is about another year's worth of work on the chip before it is ready to be marketed to the public, he said, and the team still needs to develop technology that injects data into the transceiver.

Professor Skafidas said he sees several ways the technology could be put to use.
It could be used to transfer data-rich content such as video around the home between different storage and display devices, and it could help turn a mobile device into a "shopping cart" for data.

A mobile device could also become a fully-fledged computer through the GiFi, simply by placing it near similarly-equipped peripherals such as a screen, extra storage, optical drives, a keyboard and mouse.
Reference Here>>

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Grammy For Math ... At The Wire

50TH ANNUAL GRAMMY® AWARDS 3-D Logo - Image Credit:

Grammy For Math ... At The Wire

Math algorithms aid our lives in many ways. Here at Symblogogy, we have highlighted the use of math and the reading of symbols with regards to:

** Barcodes for retail transactions and item tracking identification
** Two-dimensional symbologies that are able to deliver small databases that can be attached to an item and decoded on-the-spot with out the need to refer to a database.
** Cameraphone 2-D codes used to acquire additional information through a connection with internet webpages (PWC/PWH - Physical World Connection/Physical World Hyperlink). Applications include having the code appear in print advertisements so that one could scan (take a picture of the code) and read from their display.
** Three-dimensional codes where a 2-D code includes the element of color discernment. This type of symbology was invented to allow one to transport even more information to be decoded on-the-spot. Information is decoded through a math algorithm and delivers enough information to display and play a twenty (20) second low resolution video … right there, in the phone … without having to reach out to a website or internet database.

Just this last weekend, the use of math algorithms were recognized in a big way. Math was able to retrieve sound information that was recorded on an outdated and almost unsupported recording technology known as magnetic wire sound recording.

Magnetone Model BK-303 portable wire recorder. Example of a typical portable magnetic wire recording machine. Image Credit: University of San Diego/Courtesy of The Brush Development Company

This excerpted from Science News Online -

The Grammy in Mathematics
Mathematician nominated for award for restoring the only known recording of a live Woody Guthrie performance
Julie J. Rehmeyer – Science News Online - Feb. 9, 2008

Shortly after September 11, 2001, a small, heavy package wrapped in brown paper arrived in the mail at the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York City. Inside was a mess of wires.

Guthrie's daughter Nora eventually figured out that the suspicious package wasn't a bomb, but rather a recording of her father on a device that predated magnetic tape. After a year of searching, she managed to track down someone with the equipment to play it.

What she finally heard was a bootleg recording of her father singing a live performance in 1949. It was the first time she had ever heard him perform in front of a live audience. He had developed Huntington's chorea and stopped performing when she was a child, and she thought he had never been recorded live.

So she was determined to preserve the recording. For the first step, she and a team of engineers transferred it into digital format. It was a hair-raising experience. "The wire was really flimsy," says Jamie Howarth, a sound engineer on the job. "It was frustratingly, maddeningly fragile." It snapped over and over, and with every snap, a moment of the recording was lost. And when it didn't snap, it kinked and snarled.

After a 36-hour session, Guthrie and the engineers listened to the recording they produced. The pitch rose and fell independent of Guthrie's singing. They could hear him telling long stories, but only every few words were intelligible. The wire had stretched in places, slowing the recording down. The kinks produced moments of silence.

Howarth is the head of a company that specializes in restoring old analog recordings. If a tape slows down for any reason either during recording or playback, it lowers the pitch and stretches the sound out longer. If it speeds up, the pitch goes higher and the sound goes faster. Howarth had found that slight speed variations occur even in modern recording equipment, creating slight distortions that sound like "wow-wow" or a flutter.

Fortunately, math can help. Howarth had developed algorithms to correct these recordings.
When a recording is made, this background rhythm is even. But when it's played back, it speeds up and slows down in perfect timing with the errors in the recording. That allows Howarth to adjust the timing of the recording to make it much more similar to the original sound.
The Guthrie recording was such a mess that it forced him to develop new techniques. He turned to Kevin Short, a mathematician at the University of New Hampshire who had done work on signal processing for sound compression.

The team discovered the many ways that wire makes a lousy material for sound recording. One problem is that wire's round. When the wire kinked, it would twist out of position and the head would no longer be reading the proper side of the wire. The machine still read the low and medium frequencies, but the very high frequency sounds dropped out—including the signal Howarth used as his foot-beat.

Short developed techniques to interpolate the missing information. "We could actually pick up a hum from the Con Edison power supplies," Short says. "It's a pretty nasty noise." Because that hum was lower frequency, it remained even in the twisted sections. Short also brought in more sophisticated techniques to shift the pitches once the algorithm had identified what needed to be done.

"When it was done, we were all just awed by this recording," Howarth says. "It was miraculous." Despite all the difficulties in the process, the wire recording was in many ways surprisingly good. "It sounds really, really, really good for its time," he says.

To test his algorithms, Howarth whapped a pencil eraser against the transport of a tape player during the recording of a single, steady tone, disrupting its even motion. The top sonogram shows the recorded pitch varying wildly with the disruption. He then corrected the recording using his algorithms and removed the distortion entirely, producing the bottom sonogram. Image Credit: J. Howarth / Plangent Processes

Sound File: Guthrie Clip 1—Before processing

Sound File: Guthrie Clip 2—After processing

To hear a sample of the recording, before and after processing, click on the sound file links above.
[Audio clips courtesy Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. Copyright © 2007, Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. Used by permission]

The restored recording was released last September and was almost immediately nominated for a Grammy. The award ceremony will be broadcast Feb. 10.
Reference Here>

And the winner is ... Image Credit:

The Grammy for Best Historical Album (category 91) was awarded to “The Live Wire” - Woody Guthrie In Performance 1949:

Category 91

Best Historical Album (winner highlighted in orange)

** Actionable Offenses: Indecent Phonograph Recordings From The 1890sDavid Giovannoni, Meagan Hennessey & Richard Martin, compilation producers; Richard Martin, mastering engineer (Various Artists)[Archeophone Records]

** Forever Changing: The Golden Age Of Elektra Records 1963-1973 (Deluxe Edition)Stuart Batsford, Mick Houghton & Phil Smee, compilation producers; Dan Hersch & Bill Inglot, mastering engineers (Various Artists)[Rhino]

** The Live Wire - Woody Guthrie In Performance 1949Nora Guthrie & Jorge Arévalo Mateus, compilation producers; Jamie Howarth, Steve Rosenthal, Warren Russell-Smith & Dr. Kevin Short, mastering engineers (Woody Guthrie)[Woody Guthrie Publications]

** Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970Alec Palao, compilation producer; Dan Hersch, Bill Inglot & Dave Schultz, mastering engineers (Various Artists)[Rhino]

** People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs 1913-1938Christopher King & Henry "Hank" Sapoznik, compilation producers; Christopher King & Robert Vosgien, mastering engineers (Various Artists)[Tompkins Square]
Reference Here (field 27)>>

Friday, February 08, 2008

Mobile Power Supply Solution With Legs

Everyone has been through a day when their mobile phone’s battery has died, because of the absence of a charger. But, soon, up may just need to take a brisk walk to revive the charge of a dead battery in a cell phone. Researchers have developed a new device that will allow people to generate electricity while walking. Image Credit: Arthur Kuo, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineers, University of Michigan

Mobile Power Supply Solution With Legs

What is the essence of mobility (enterprise mobility) … is it not movement, the ability to move anywhere, anytime and be able to remain connected to the aid and information provided through technology?

What if one were able to recharge the tools that provide power to the devices we carry to remain connected to our information age? Well, here is an invention that never requires a person to ever be near a traditional power source in order to recharge the batteries of the devices we use to keep connected as we move about.

Engineers from three universities in Canada and the US have successfully developed a generator that is able to harvest and convert the energy we produce from walking into electricity. The generator is embedded in a brace that is worn above and below the knee to capture the motion power that walking creates in order to turn the mechanical energy of human muscles into electrical energy.

Out and about and completely tether free with the ability to power PDA’s, Cellphones, and all other enterprise mobility devices.

This excerpted from The Register (UK) -

Thigh-drive phone charger put through its paces
Let your legs help your fingers do the walking

By Lewis Page - The Register - Published Friday 8th February 2008 10:55 GMT

North American boffins have produced a knee brace which can generate several watts of power as the wearer's leg flexes while walking. The inventors believe the device could be useful for powering medical equipment - and even mobile phones.

In a paper for the boffinry journal Science, the researchers reveal their device's test results. The knee generator works on the same principle as the regenerative brakes used in battery-driven cars. It can clutch in and out, so creating resistance only during selected periods of the leg's motion.

If the gizmo engages itself only during the "braking" period, when the knee is bending to absorb the body's weight after a footfall - thus actually helping the leg somewhat with its task - it puts out an average of 5W when fitted to a man walking slowly.
It compares well with the output levels offered by portable batteries. The knee brace could power ten mobile phones, or charge them up. And unlike ordinary hand-cranked or pedal generators, it doesn't require any attention from the operator - though he or she does have to keep walking.

According to biomedics and engineering prof Arthur Kuo of the University of Michigan, one of the inventors, the leg generator doesn't require a significant level of effort from the user - though it's still too cumbersome.
"The prototype device is bulky and heavy, and it does affect the wearer just to carry. But the energy generation part itself has very little effect on the wearer, whether it is turned on or not. We hope to improve the device so that it is easier to carry, and to retain the energy-harvesting capabilities."

Kuo sees systems of this sort being used by soldiers, to charge the increasing load of electronics they carry. The idea could also power implanted medical gear like pacemakers or neurotransmitters.

One likely consumer app might be for hikers or other outdoorsy types wishing to keep their gadgets charged up. (Trade names: Walkman, ThighPod, You'll-never-walk-alone-Phone. Etc.) But it's hard to imagine regenerative knee braces being a big hit among those with frequent access to grid power.
Reference Here>>

Obviously, this Brit has never been forced to endure being without power (and the information it can provide) in a mission critical situation.