Software updates over the air are popularly called, OTA have been a point of debate for about a decade now. There are two types of updates that are rolled out to any product: Minor update and Major update. Minor update takes care of bug fixes, hardening of platform, code stabilization, security updates, etc. Major update would include new features, visual language change, user experience change and also some bug fixes. These updates are common for any hardware or software product. But lets us talk about iOS and Android here. Let us also discuss if you will really need an update.
LeEco launched its second generation lineup of smartphones last week. Along with the usual specifications upgrade and design changes, one thing that caught my attention was the term CDLA. CDLA stands for Continual Digital Lossless Audio and is a proprietary technology developed by LeEco in India. It is a technology which enables a music player device (mobile or dedicated player) to get rid of the 3.5 mm audio jack. This technology leverages USB-C port to connect to the headphone or earphone. There are rumors that Apple is thinking about getting rid of the 3.5 mm audio jack in their next version of iPhone. 3.5 mm audio jack has been there since the age of the analog music players. Nothing much has changed in the 3.5 mm port technology. The CDLA is still a wired solution like the 3.5 mm audio jack. Bluetooth head phones is an option to replace 3.5 mm audio jack, but the quality of audio over wireless medium suffers a bit and it is not loss-less. So how does the CDLA help delivering better audio than 3.5 mm audio jack or a Bluetooth solution?
Active Noise Cancellation
Noise Cancelling headphones have been around for a while now. Passive noise cancelling refers to the headphones which have physical materials or design measures to reduce the ambient noise. It could be an airtight cavity with cushion buds around the ear. It could be the placement of the drivers in the ear canals and tightly sealing off the ambient noise. Passive noise cancelling headphones are bigger and heavier in dimensions. Also they are not very effective in a noisy place. Active noise cancelling reads the ambient noise and generates a counter audio signal to cancel it out. It filters out the noise and directs only the intended audio to the ears.
But Active Noise cancellation required power. If you have seen the Bose QuietComfort series, they have a battery powered noise cancelling circuit that is connected between the headphones and the music player. Though it is a very effective solution, it depends on power and it is very expensive.
So the CDLA Headphone from LeEco has the noise cancelling circuit built within the headphones and it draws power from the USB-C port of the mobile, along with the digital audio. In papers, the CDLA headphone must be cheaper and smaller than the other noise cancelling headphone solutions available.
While the USB-C port offers to act as a power source for the headphones, here are a few drawbacks. USB-C port headphones are not widely available. 3.5 mm audio jack on the other hand is the most widely available music solution on earth. So inter-operability is an issue.
While the USB-C port is engaged to connect the headphone, you cannot charge the mobile. In other words, your mobile cannot be charged, while you are listening to music. Most mobiles with FM radio, utilize the 3.5 mm audio jack as the antenna. That cannot be done with the USB-C port and effectively, the mobile needs to have a dedicated antenna inbuilt for FM radio.
While USB-C port can be inserted up or down, the 3.5 mm audio jack has no directional limitation. This is a not a major deterant, but still that is not a USP to buy the CDLA technology. Only advantage of this dual functional port is that, it reduced design clutter and would enable better aesthetic appeal.
Currently LeEco has announced an earphone and an active noise cancelling headphone with CDLA technology. They intent to introduce more models, but the technology will take off only when third party manufacturers jump in to make these headphones.
— LeEco India (@LeEcoIndia) April 20, 2016
LeEco has announced 3 mobiles with CDLA. The Le Max 2 has 6GB of RAM, 5.7″ QHD display and powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. Le Pro 2 is powered by MediaTek Helio X25 and has 5.5″ FullHD display. Le 2, is powered by MediaTek Helio X20 chipset. You can read more about these mobiles here.
Ricoh, the Japanese office equipments and electronics manufacturing giant has introduced the Theta S in India. The Theta S is a 360 degree camera and it was announced earlier this year at IFA. Theta S is a successor to the Theta M15, which never made it to India. The Theta S has two lenses on each side and each can capture 180 degree image (photo and video). Internally the images are stitched to give a 360 degree view. The Theta S can shoot full HD videos at 30 fps and can capture 14 MP stil images. The lenses have an aperture of f/2.0. It has two sensors for each lens and they measure 1/2.3 inch in size. It has an internal storage of 8 GB.
The Theta S does not have a display. It tethers to a smartphone via WiFi and the Theta app in the mobile controls the device. Theta app is available for Android and iOS mobiles. The app give you control over shutter speed, white balance and ISO. I can’t think of a practical day to day usage for this device. However online platforms are expanding their support of 360 degree images. The Google cardboard is the first thing that comes to my mind. Also Google has expressed its interest in the Ricoh Theta and they want people to use it and contribute to the Google Maps. Facebook has also recently extended support for 360 degree imagery.
Birthday Party in Japan – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
The Ricoh Theta S will be available in India from December 2015 and will be priced, starting fro Rs 39995. It is definitely expensive, but I am just imagining plugging the Theta S to a drone and capturing the world from above.
While the Qualcomm’s Quick Charge and Oppo’s VOOC charging technologies are trending in the tech industry, Huawei has come up with a new fast-charging tech which is claimed to have 10 times faster charging speed than normal batteries. Recently, Huawei unveiled the new batteries which charge up to 50% within few minutes. These batteries are developed by the Huawei Watt Lab, which belongs to the Central Research Institute at Huawei Technology Corporation. The new lithium-ion batteries were unveiled at the 56th Battery Symposium held from 11 to 13 November in Nagoya, Japan. The company says that just 5 minutes of charging can give you up to 10 hours of phone calls.
Huawei presented, videos that shows the new quick charging technology in lithium-ion batteries. The 600mAh battery gets charged to 68% capacity in two minutes and second battery with 3000mAh capacity and an energy density of 620 Wh/L gets charged to 48% capacity in just 5 minutes. As of now, there is no news from Huawei as when we can see these new batteries in devices.
Speech and image processing has been under research for more than 2 decades. I remember how I struggled with the first generation dragon speech recognition service. Speech and image pattern recognition has taken leaps and bounds since then. The commercially available good example would be the Google, Cortana and Siri. Now Microsoft is working on a project code-named “Oxford”. This project oxford is a bundle of technology that aims to provide human like recognition capabilities to the gadgets of the future.
The Project Oxford is based on the same technology as the Microsoft Cortana or the Skype Translator. In addition to improvements on the speech recognition, Project Oxford offers web-based REST API for Emotion recognition, Spell Check, Video Processing, Speaker recognition, etc… The emotion recognition can scan images and recognize the emotions in the faces on the image and point them to one of the eight basic human emotions. Social media posts are already analysed for sentiments and provide great depth of intelligence for marketing. Now with videos and photos being analyzed, it will just add more details to the big data analysis engine. The project oxford is also working on a service to provide spell checking, tracking a specific person in a video footage and a recognize the speaker from audio streams.
The future just got more interesting and the future gadgets spookier.
For more details and to play with some of the recognition concepts, visit https://www.projectoxford.ai/