Tag Archives: tablets

Phablet shipments will hit 1.5 billion in 2019

Writing for Business Insider, Tony Danova notes that the phablets — defined as a smartphone with a screen between 5-inches and 7-inches — will surpass 1.5 billion shipments by 2019. With that, the devices will soon account for 59% of total global smartphone shipments, up from an expected 35% in 2014. As a result, it is believed phablets will outnumber tablet sales three to one over the next five years.

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According to a new report from BI Intelligence, the market has been migrating towards phablets over the past few quarters, and that shift is expected to continue as phablets become the go-to smartphone form factor. “While this is a broad definition,” Danova notes, the advantage is that it captures one of the most important trends in the smartphone market in the last couple of years — the phenomenal popularity of devices such as the Samsung Galaxy line.

As the emerging trend continues to favor larger device screens, phablets are expected to remain the fastest-growig smartphone category through 2019, growing at a CAGR of 27%, nearly double the 15% compound rate for the smartphone market over the same period. Phablets have also accelerated the trend of consumer time spent on visually-oriented social media and messaging apps, with the report revealing that more than half of activity on phablets is tied to social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

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Cognizant of this trend, Atmel recently expanded its popular maXTouch T lineup of touchscreen controllers with the mXT640T, mXT336T and mXT224T. The new devices offer a comprehensive set of features, supporting next-gen mobile devices such as smartphones, phablets and mid-size tablets with touchscreens ranging from 3.2”-8.3.” With 640 nodes, the mXT64xT series of devices are the world’s most comprehensive capacitive touchscreen controllers designed for next-generation smartphones. The mXT640T supports screen sizes up to 6.2″ with a 1.0 mm passive stylus, up to 5.0 mm thick multi-finger glove sensing, and superior moisture touch performance, while also supports up to 7″ for Windows® 8 compliant devices, and up to 8″ for Android smartphones, phablets and tablets.

“The new T Series enables superior touch performance with single-layer sensors as compared to the most recently announced solutions. Simply put, the latest devices will enable Atmel to extend its industry leadership in the large-screen market to the smartphone and phablet spaces,” an Atmel engineering rep recently explained.

 

What factors do you consider when selecting a device?

What factors do you consider when making a purchasing decision for your next smartphone, tablet or PC? It’s quite likely that every individual goes through their own unique selection criteria, ranging from price of the device to functionality. However, what are the true deciding factors, and why?

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Smartphones
Smartphones are different than tablets and PCs in that they are almost always under a contract and tied to a carrier. On top of this, it is common that OEMs only release certain versions of the smartphone in specific territories or countries. With phones you have to factor in which carrier you prefer, where you have the best phone reception, which is offering the best deals, etc. There is less weight on the hardware and software itself, and more on outside influences of location and carriers. For this reason, I’m not going to focus on smartphones.

Tablets / PCs
Since tablets and PCs are not necessarily tied to a carrier, there is weight put into the hardware and software of the product offerings rather than other criteria. Hence, why we will focus on this particular category. So, what are these most important factors?

Functionality
Is this a work PC or a fun device to store music on and play with friends? Pricing / value will shake-out of this. You need high processing capability for work, there is premium associated with the best processors. If you are going to be doing a lot of gaming, then processing power is again important, but so are graphics. What your primary use case is for the device will largely influence your purchasing criteria and therefore your willingness to spend.

Brand
It seems people are either Apple fanatics or not. If you are, you tend to buy all Apple products, claiming that the simplicity, elegance and ease-of-use are the reasons for your obsession, and therefore you pay the premium for these products. Apple is an amazing company with amazing products and has (at least had) the ability to revolutionize any industry it sought to. If you are not an Apple person, brand loyalty is likely less important on the pareto of purchasing criteria. Another factor here, do you have full authority to make your own selection, or is this a work device paid for by your company? Many companies have IT departments that will only support certain machines.

Pricing
No matter who we are everyone wants to feel like they are getting a good value associated with every purchase. This is as much a psychological topic as a hardware one. The story of a person sitting at in an air-conditioned home vs. a person crawling through a dessert, who do you think values a bottle of water more? Same idea, the traveler sitting on a plane for 12-hours with no movies playing vs. a person sitting in front of their TV, who do you think values a tablet more? The person whom is provided a PC for their work, vs. someone whom has to purchase one on their own? This criterion melds with the previous criterion in functionality.

Operating System (OS)
Let’s focus on PCs and tablets separately for this discussion. In terms of PCs, you primarily are on Windows or iOS — iOS if you are using Apple, and every other PC OEM is mostly running Windows. This is starting to fragment some with the introduction of Google Chrome, Linux, and many others, but the lion’s share in PCs is still between iOS and Windows.

For tablets, it’s a bit more skewed. Again, Apple iPad users are on iOS, but Android still has the largest overall OS share (smartphone / tablet / PC) with 48% (1.2B devices in 2014). With it being an open-sourced OS it invites all the OEMs to utilize it very easy. From a user’s perspective it has become very familiar and easy to use. Windows with their introduction of Win8 in October 2012 has been slowly gaining market share.

But when it is all said and done, do the users really care about which OS? Or, is the OS more connected to the functionality — in other words, when a user makes a purchase for a work PC, it just comes with Windows?

Form Factor
How heavy is the device? What screen size does it have? Is it a convertible, 2-in-1, or rotating screen device? The form factor again will be most influenced by the user’s primary use-case. If you are getting a computer for work, but you have to travel a lot, you definitely aren’t going to get a desktop. And on-top of that, you will want the lightest possible device you can get so you don’t have to lug around a heavy brick everywhere, but yet that still meets your processing needs. Depending on your supplementary use-cases, you might be inclined to get a 2-in-1 in that situation. Form factor is definitely a consideration, but tied to use case.

Applications
Being able to go to the app store and download the latest and greatest apps that everyone is talking about is a big deal. Apps are what make our devices more functional and important today than ever before. But different OSs have different quantities and qualities of apps available. Apple is leading this charge, then Android, and lastly Windows. Almost all developers were at least starting with iOS, apps first version available usually on iOS, followed by Android.

Advertisements
Catchy, fun, relative, and helpful advertisements are always good, but it should make less implication on decision criteria other than communicating the information associated with the previously discussed decision pareto.


Intended functionality / use case is likely the most important criteria, even including brand seems to fall out of this. This is definitely a topic that has far more breadth!

“Always on” with Hillcrest Freespace and Atmel MCUs

Hillcrest Labs has announced that Coolpad Group (previously China Wireless) is using the company’s sensor hub software to enable “always on” sensing for Coolpad smartphones.

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More specifically, Hillcrest’s Freespace software will run on Atmel’s low-power microcontroller (MCU) solutions to provide high performance sensor fusion, gesture recognition and always on context awareness capabilities – with dramatically lower power consumption and extended battery life.

“Coolpad realizes that sensors are critical to differentiate its functionality and maintain its dramatic growth in the global smartphone market,” said Chad Lucien, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Hillcrest Labs. “We’re proud to have been selected by Coolpad to provide the sensor hub functionality that will define its new mobile experience and enable context awareness, augmented reality, improved navigation and better gaming.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, sensor hubs are a separate class of chips designed to offload sensor management from the main processor for mobile phones and other devices. Essentially, they reduce the power requirements to add always on sensing in smartphones, tablets and wearables devices such as activity monitors, smartwatches, as well as head mounted displays (HMDs).

This enables gesture control, context awareness, pedestrian navigation, augmented reality, health and fitness monitoring, along with immersive gaming. Hillcrest’s sensor hub software products combine an array of sophisticated algorithms to provide low power, high performance sensor fusion and transform sensor data into valuable application-ready information.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Hillcrest’s official site here and Atmel’s MCU product page here.

Nano tech could store power in cables, clothes

Professor Jayan Thomas and Ph.D. student Zenan Yu have developed an innovative method of transmitting and storing electricity in a single lightweight copper wire.

According to UCF Today (University of Central Florida), the technology could ultimately allow individuals to power their MP3 players, smartphones and tablets using the fabric of their jackets. 

Indeed, by being able to store and conduct energy on the same wire, heavy, space-consuming batteries may very well become an outdated remnant of the past.


“It’s an interesting idea. When we did it and started talking about it, everyone we talked to said, ‘Hmm, never thought of that. It’s unique,'” said Thomas. 

”We take it step by step. I love getting to the lab everyday, and seeing what we can come up with next. Sometimes things don’t work out, but even those failures teach us a lot of things.”

As Thomas notes, while copper wire may be the starting point, special fibers could eventually be developed with nanostructures to conduct and store energy.

The current model involves a single copper wire equipped with a sheath of nanowhiskers grown on the outer surface of the copper wire. 

The whiskers were subsequently treated with a special alloy, which created an electrode.

However, two electrodes were required to handle the energy storage, so the researchers created another by wrapping a thin plastic sheet around the whiskers using a metal sheath (after generating additional nanowhiskers). 

The layers were then glued together with a special gel. Because of the insulation, the inner copper wire retains its ability to channel energy, with the layers around the wire independently storing powerful energy.

Simply put, Thomas and his team managed to create an effective supercapacitor on the outside of the copper wire.

Although more research is required, the technique has the potential to be adapted for a wide range of applications. For example, flexible solar cells paired with the above-mentioned fibers could be used to design a jacket capable of powering various electronic devices.

How to make the IoT a reality

ARM will be chairing a symposium on the sidelines of the upcoming Sensors Expo and Conference in Chicago on Jun 24th from 9AM to 5PM. Titled Making the Internet of Things a Reality: A Toolkit for Designing “Smart,” key speakers include Atmel’s Adrian Woolley, ARM’s Zach Shelby and Sensor Platforms CTO Kevin Shaw.

According to ARM’s Will Tu, Kevin Shaw will be kicking off the session with an overview of how IoT devices can evolve to optimize their interaction with humans – ultimately becoming invisible and predictive.

“We can see sensor fusion at work with smartphones, tablets and wearables and today as they apply the concept of contextual awareness of where a user is and what he or she might be doing,” Tu writes in a recent blog post. “From this awareness a device can respond to offer a service, enable features on a device, conserve valuable battery power or delight users in some novel way. Sensor fusion will bring the same type of value to embedded devices and  these software algorithms will be the key to unlocking the commercial value proposition of future IoT device.”

Next up is ARM’s very own Zach Shelby, a thought leader in the industry who has been heavily involved in connectivity from his early days as co-founder of Sensinode. Zach is currently a key contributor at the IETF for IoT standards with contributions in 6LoWPAN, routing, web services and security related standards, ETSI and OMA standardization on M2M and in several top international research programs.

Atmel’s Adrian Woolley will then discuss the hardware side of the IoT. A 25-year veteran of the semiconductor market, Woolley is the Director of Strategy and Business Development at Atmel’s microcontroller business unit. He has an extensive background in mobile and communication markets, along with a considerable amount of embedded experience in microcontrollers.

“When you are talking about hardware building blocks, Atmel can offer more than just MCUs; they also provide radio technologies,” says Shaw.

Interested in learning more? You can access the symposium’s official page here for additional details and registration information. Readers may also want to check out Atmel’s recent IoT SoMa panel on the subject herePatrick Sullivan’s EELive! 2014 presentation here and our extensive Bits & Pieces IoT article archive here.

Atmel looks back at Q1 2014 wins and launches

Yesterday, Atmel execs detailed the company’s Q1 2014 highlights. Key launches, collaborative projects and product wins spanned multiple markets, including:

Winning with maXTouch (smartphones) – LG’s G Pro 2, G2 Mini and L Series 3 L90; Verizon’s Lucid 3, Xiaomi’s RedRice 5.5″, Gionee’s Elife S5.5 and ZTE’s Grand S Lite.

Winning with maXTouch (Android and Windows 8 tablets) – Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 10.1,” Galaxy Tab 12.2,” Galaxy Note 12.2″ and HP’s EliteBook 1000 G2.

Collaborating with Corning – Developing ultra-thin, next-generation capacitive touchscreens using Gorilla Glass and XSense.

Working with Mentor GraphicsAccelerating development of next-gen IoT devices using Atmel’s ARM-based Cortex M3 and M4 based microcontrollers under the auspices of the Embedded Nucleus Innovate Program.

Launching maXTouch 1066T and 1068T – Extending product leadership in the large screen capacitive touch market with devices targeted at 7″ – 8.9″ high performance tablets.

Introducing the new automotive maXTouch S lineup – Targeting touchscreens up to 14″ in center consoles, navigation systems, radio interfaces and rear-seat entertainment systems.

Debuting the SmartConnect platform – Integrating Atmel’s ultra-low power microcontrollers (MCUs) and wireless connectivity solutions into turnkey solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Introducing new low-power ARM Cortex M0+ microcontrollers (SAM D21, D10 and D11) – Offering Atmel’s peripheral event system, support for capacitive touch button, slider and wheel user interfaces, multiple serial communications modules, along with a full-speed USB interface, as well as additional pin and memory combinations.

Unveiling new $79 SAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation kit – Providing a low-cost, fast prototyping and evaluation platform for microprocessor-based design built around Atmel’s SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based MPU.

Xplaining 8-bit development– Offering a development board for Makers and engineers based on Atmel’s 8-bit AVR technology.

Launching the ATPL230A – Introducing a Power Line Communications (PLC) modem designed to implement the physical layer of the PRIME standard (Power Line Intelligent Metrology Evolution).

Rolling out Atmel Studio 6.2 – Upgrading the popular integrated development environment for Atmel AVR and ARM based microcontrollers.

Ramping up with LIN – Extending Atmel’s automotive in-vehicle networking leadership position with the launch of next-generation, low-power local interconnect networking (LIN) systems.

BI Intelligence details IoT building blocks

Writing for Business Insider, Marcelo Ballve notes that the Internet of Things (IoT) will make many of the familiar objects in our lives connected, as well as accessible via smartphones and tablets.

“This shift to connectivity in once-inert things — the logical next step in the growing ubiquity of the Internet — will force companies large and small to transform dramatically,” said Ballve. 

”But how are the ‘things’ in the Internet of Things actually put together? What elevates an object or device from normal status to a sensor-laden node in the soon-to-be-massive Internet Of Things?”

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As Ballve notes, a recent BI Intelligence report lists the following 6 primary attributes that will help make “things” a part of the rapidly evolving IoT:

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Sensors – IoT devices and systems include sensors that track and measure activity.
  • Connectivity – Internet connectivity is either contained in the item itself, or a connected hub, smartphone, or base station.
  • Processors – IoT devices will obviously pack some form of computing power.
  • Energy-efficiency – Many devices may need to be able to operate for a year or more using a minimal amount of energy, waking only periodically to relay data.
  • Cost-effectiveness – Objects that contain sensors will need to be relatively inexpensive to purchase and deploy.
  • Quality and reliability – Some IoT devices will need to operate in harsh environments (outdoors) and for extended periods of time.
  • Security – IoT devices may need to relay sensitive or regulated information such as health-related data, making data security critical.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a future world where all types of electronic devices link to each other via the Internet. In 2009, there were 2.5 billion connected devices; most of these were mobile phones, PCs and tablets. By 2020, there will be over 30 billion connected devices of far greater variety.

According to Reza Kazerounian, Senior VP and GM of the Microcontroller Business Unit at Atmel, the IoT is a combination of multiple market segments, tens of thousands of OEMs and hundreds of thousands of products.

“It is seen by many as the next wave of dramatic market growth for semiconductors. If you look at the different estimates made by market analysts, the IoT market will be worth trillions of dollars to a variety of industries from the consumer to financial, industrial, white goods and other market segments,” he told EEWeb in February.

“Companies that provide cloud-based services, service providers and semiconductor companies will also benefit from this market. The number of small or new companies that are showcasing connective devices has increased – there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. These nodes will have characteristics such as low-power embedded processing, a human-machine interface and connectivity.”

Reza also pointed out that Atmel views microcontrollers (MCUs) as an essential building block for every PC, consumer device, industrial machine, home connectivity device and automobile. To be sure, MCUs are playing an increasingly critical role in the lucrative space.

“As the semiconductor industry has transitioned from PCs to mobile, IoT will now rise to become the predominant market,” he added. ”This transition will favor ultra-low power and integration of microcontrollers, wireless connectivity, security, touch technologies and sensor management products.”

Interested in learning more about the IoT? You can check out Atmel’s recent IoT SoMa panel on the subject here, Patrick Sullivan’s EELive! 2014 presentation and our extensive Bits & Pieces IoT article archive here.