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Intel Computing Technology Demo in Taipei - controlling lightning with our fingertips and driving a car with no hands
Earlier today here in Taipei we attended the yearly Intel Computing Technology Demo which is tour held by Intel folks from the headquarters in US where they give Asian press a look into some fairly exciting tech that it's working on and stuff that we may see in the future.
At the event at the Sherwood Hotel today, Intel showed off a lot of its new Ultrabooks, tablets and smartphones, which of course are all powered by Intel chips. A lot of those products have been seen at events prior to this one, but what took our interest was Intel's take on perceptual computing and where it sees it going in the future.
At the front of the room was an Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook running Windows 8, some may get excited for that fact alone. Besides just multitouch where we are now with such Windows 8 based machines, Intel showed off various demos which makes uses of the computer's web camera to produce some rather interesting results.
In the video above the first part shows a demo where a Creative Labs 3D camera (attached via USB) is able detect the user's fingertips and control lightning. It uses depth perception and other cool technologies to recognize your fingertips and interact with them on-screen. Another demo we saw (not shown in the video above) showed the camera being able to recognize an Intel employee's hands, and he was able to accurately move around balls on the screen, even flick them with a real flicking motion - quite cool.
We reported yesterday about the European Commission announcing a research grant for 5G, but now we have Tokyo, Japan-based NTT DoCoMo confirming that their tech-equipped vehicle successfully conducted a 10Gbps wireless test in Ishigaki in December.
They received help from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and their test relied on frequencies and bandwidth outside of the usual cellular service, trekking all the way into the 11GHz band with 400MHz of spectrum, but they proved they could far exceed the speeds of LTE and LTE-Advanced when moving outdoors.
In order to keep the connection, they required 24 antennas, with the telco hoping for similar speeds in frequencies over 5GHz, and they're hoping that the technology will define mobile communications as it improves. We shouldn't expect this tech inside of the next half decade or so, but it's impressive that we're seeing it this early on.
If you thought that you dream of getting 4G was getting close, well those bandwidth goal posts just moved, a lot. While the Mobile World Congress festivities are still bubbling along, the European Commission have just announced research grants for 5G mobile technology.
The news comes from the European Commission VP Neelie Kroes, who said that they're pumping approximately $65.4 million into research grants for 5G mobile technology, where they hope to have it online by 2020. Kroes said "I want 5G to be pioneered by European industry, based on European research and creating jobs in Europe - and we will put our money where our mouth is."
It's long been a contention that the advertised speeds are an "up to" rating meaning that the ISP doesn't actually have to provide that speed. Consumers generally expect that the advertised speed is the speed that they will be receiving at their house. The FCC monitors the actual versus advertised speed and has reported some data for September of last year.
According to the FCC's data, more than half of the major ISPs failed to meet the advertised download speed. An additional three meet the advertised speed when averaged over 24 hours, but fell short of the advertised speed during the peak hours of 7-11p.m. The chart of data can be seen above. Upload speeds can be seen below.
When it comes to upload, the companies performed better. Only four of the 15 companies didn't provide advertised upload speeds. It just goes to show that not all ISPs are created equal.
Users of Sprint with 4G LTE devices in Washington DC, San Francisco, and New York City should be able to pick up spotty LTE coverage. It appears that Sprint has started flipping the switch on towers in those cities without making an official announcement. It's likely they're testing the towers ahead of an official launch.
Coverage has been spotty meaning that not all towers have been turned on. Once the coverage is officially announced and made live, users should expect a blanket of LTE goodness. Sprint has confirmed that the cell towers were turned on for testing and that the company decided to leave them on until the official announcement so that users could continue using LTE.
We have been hearing rumors of Microsoft's plans to transition users of its MSN / Live Messenger service over to Skype for a while now, and today it appears that we have an official date. The transition will begin taking place on April 8th of this year.
The upgrade will target English users first and then trickle down to the rest of the world, over the rest of the month. This news comes shortly after a confusing email which alluded to all Live Messenger services shutting down on April 15th, which is not true.
"The upgrade process itself has been going really well, we've had millions of customers move over", said Skype's Parri Munsell. The transition process begins when existing Live Messenger users are greeted with an upgrade notification. The upgrade will prevent users from signing in to the messaging service using the existing Live Messenger application. Microsoft is pre-caching existing machines with the Skype installer so that the upgrade will appear seamless.
While some people are still stuck using 3G, including most Sprint users, many countries around the world have been upgraded to 4G LTE. OpenSignal, a company that crowdsources signal maps for different carriers around the world, is reporting that Sweden's LTE is the fastest in the world.
Unfortunately for users in the United States, our LTE speeds come in at eighth overall. Above us is Sweden, Hong Kong, Denmark, Canada, Australia, South Korea, and Germany. After Germany, the speed really drops off from 14 Mbps to 9.6 Mbps in the United States. Japan follows behind us with 7.1 Mbps.
Part of the reason for this could be due to carriers in the United States only having access to 20MHz of spectrum for their network. In Sweden, and most other countries, carriers have double that amount available, which gives them more bandwidth. If you're on 4G LTE, what's the fastest speed you've seen?
AT&T has acquired part of the 700MHz B band spectrum from Verizon for $1.9 billion in cash. This spectrum acquisition by AT&T will allow the company to boost its US LTE rollout. According to AT&T, the new 700MHz license will allow AT&T to rollout LTE to more than 42 million people across 18 US states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
AT&T says this spectrum purchase will "complement [its] existing holdings in the 700 MHz B band and will allow AT&T to continue to deploy 4G LTE services to meet demand for mobile Internet services on a wide array of smartphones, tablets and other devices."
AT&T has been in an acquisition mode as of late. Just a few days ago, AT&T paid $780 million to acquire Alltel's US wireless business. It plans to use this acquisition to expand rural coverage. The spectrum acquisition is subject to regulatory approval, so it hasn't closed yet. Once the transaction is approved, AT&T believes the deal will close "in the second half of 2013."
Google, according to CNET, is looking to acquire wireless spectrum. Before you get all excited about a Google wireless carrier or Google wireless broadband, you should know that Google is reportedly not after the spectrum for a new service. Instead, they are looking to acquire the spectrum to conduct testing.
An application by Google was filed last week and asks permission to test frequencies in the 2524 to 2546 MHz range and the 2567 to 2625MHz range. Clearwire currently uses these spectrum ranges for its 4G WiMax wireless broadband service. Google had previously owned a stake in the company up until last year.
One of CNET's sources has said that Google is only interested in using the spectrum for testing and nothing else. Google has declined to comment on the request. If Google were to create a wireless broadband company or wireless carrier service, would you be inclined to switch? What would it take?
At the US Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has voiced opinion for at least one "gigabit community" in all 50 states by 2015. The FCC Chairman wants a Google Fiber-like gigabit network across the US and believes that "establishing gigabit communities nationwide will accelerate the creation of a critical mass of markets and innovation hubs" enabled by the gigabit Internet connectivity.
At the moment, 42 communities in 14 states feature fiber optic Internet providers, but most of those installations aren't pushing gigabit speeds. In order to help out with the gigabit rollout, the FCC chairman has announced plans to create a new online and publicly accessable clearinghouse to collect and disseminate information about how to get the costs down, as well as increase the speed of broadband deployment across the United States.
We now have the problem of who would pay for it, as the current worldwide economy isn't strong to have the US government wholly fund the project. Could we see a telco or two step in, or Google possibly half finance the project? It looks like Internet access in the US is about to get interesting.