Displaying items by tag: development

Social networking colossus Facebook has announced that it is attempting to make a ‘technical ‘breakthrough in relation to developing and manufacturing futuristic ‘smart glasses’ specifically designed to allow you see to see virtual objects in the real world.

It has emerged that Facebook published a patent application for a ‘waveguide display with two-dimensional scanner’ which was compiled by three members of its advanced research division of Facebook’s VR subsidiary Oculus.

It has been reported that the display may augment views of a physical, real-world environment with computer generated elements. In addition to this, the patent filing also suggested that the display being developed may be included in an eye-wear comprising a frame and a display assembly yhat presents media to a user’s eyes.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously expressed his belief that virtual and augmented reality - represents the next major computing platform which is capable of replacing smartphones and traditional PCs. Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion and has announced its intentions to continue to invest billions on developing more revolutionary technology.

The ‘smart glasses’ currently being developed by Oculus will use a waveguide display in order to project light onto the wearer’s eyes instead of a more traditional display. However, it has also been claimed that the ‘smart glasses’ would be able to display images, video and be compatible with connected speakers or headphones to play audio when worn.

Facebook has thus far declined to comment on the patent application, but analysts have suggested that the social networking firm have adopted a similar approach to Microsoft, when they launched its HoloLens AR headset. Oculus’s ‘smart glasses’ have also drawn comparisons with glasses being developed by Google start-up Magic Leap.

Interestingly, one of the lead authors of Facebook’s patent application is optical scientist Pasi Saarikko who joined Facebook two years ago, after he spearheaded the optical design of HoloLens at Microsoft. However, despite the announcement being made in relation to work commencing on Facebook’s ‘smart glasses’, analysts have claimed don’t expect to see the device anytime soon.

Chief scientist of Oculus, Michael Abrash said AR glasses won’t start replacing smartphones until 2022. He said, “20 or 30 years from now, I predict that instead of carrying stylish smartphones everywhere, we’ll wear stylish glasses. Those glasses will offer VR, AR and everything in between, and we’ll use them all day.”

Published in Gadget

South Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung and Chinese vendor ZTE have both adopted aggressive strategies in relation to investment for 5G infrastructure – and many analysts are predicting that this approach will both disrupt and threaten the traditional trio of networks players which include Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.

ZTE has focused largely on the development of 5G specifications in the last twelve months, which is much more than any of it previous forays in relation to mobile technology. The Chinese telecommunications equipment and systems colossus has doubled its R&D spending on 5G in 2016 to $400m – and has assigned 1,600 employees to work on the technology at four dedicated research facilities located in China, the US and Europe.

Director of Wireless Standardization, Wang Xinhui has claimed that ZTE’s inactivity with 2G, 3G and 4G was down to the fact that it lacked maturity, and declared it was now much better equipped for the forthcoming era of 5G. At a 5G Summit in Tokyo in May, he told Mobile World Live: “In the past we were simply less mature. With 2G and 3G, and even with 4G, we weren’t that big. But in the era of 5G, we were well prepared. We’ve spent a huge amount of money and devoted so much human resources, particularly towards the New Radio specifications.”

Chief analyst at Global Data Technology, Peter Jarich said it made perfect sense for an entity like ZTE to attempt to penetrate the 5G market, as the technology will require new expertise and infrastructure. He feels it’s a natural and logical progression from ZTE to invest heavily in 5G, as they recognize it as a phenomenal opportunity.

South Korean smartphone giants Samsung have also adopted a similar approach, and have been working on 5G since 2012, when it started its first mmWave research and development. It has previously stated that it firmly believes that strong 5G infrastructure will help ensure Samsung executes its mission which is to ‘connect everything’.

Samsung has boldly set its sights on becoming a top-three player in the 5G infrastructure market, and it has estimated that network equipment sales will treble to $8.6 billion in 2022. It has been disclosed that Samsung, which is the world’s largest smartphone maker plans to accumulate market share by moving swiftly and targeting the US market.

The reason behind its strategic targeting of the US market is that its Asian competitors such as Huawei and ZTE may face a ban on selling networking gear due to security concerns which have been raised by the government. In May, Samsung publicly announced that it had conducted the world’s first field trial of a multi-vendor, pre-standard 5G network with US telecommunications firm Verizon. In addition to this, more recently Samsung and UK communications firm Arqiva announced it had conducted the first field trial of 5G Fixed Wireless Access Technology in Europe that went live in Central London.

VP of next-generation business and products at Samsung Networks, Woojune Kim, has expressed his confidence they can become a top tier network player in 5G, citing the fact that its Finnish and Swedish competitors are currently struggling. This stark assessment of its rivals was evidenced by the CEO of Nokia, Rajeev Suri conceded that the fact 5G was accelerating much faster than originally expected, would almost inevitable create some near term risks for his company, with the timing and completion of certain projects now uncertain. 

Published in Telecom Vendors

Facebook has specifically developed a censorship tool in order to try and force its way back into China. The social network empire was banned in China following the violence that broke out in Urumqi in July, 2009. The Chinese government took the decision to ban Facebook – after they established that many Xinjiang independence activists were using the social network to organise other activists.

There was also a theory or belief on the ground in China that Facebook would not succeed in the region following Google’s problems in China over the contentious issue of censorship. However, Facebook are desperate to get back into China and in order meet its censorship requirements, Facebook has built a tool which is specifically designed to filter news feeds in specific geographical locations.

The New York Times have reported that three current and former Facebook employees revealed to them that the tool had been developed as part of Facebook’s strategy to get back into China.

When the question was put to Facebook, a representative for the organization remained coy on the subject – but did admit they were interested in China. The spokesperson said, “We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country. “However, we have not made any decision on our approach to China."

Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has tried to rebuild Facebook’s relationship with Chinese leaders, and spent years learning Mandarin. He visited China recently and that sparked rumours that he was pitching their new product in an effort to re-enter the market there.

The censorship tool could also combat some of Facebook’s other issues – with the company being blasted for a spike in the amount of ‘fake’ news stories going viral on its platform. Facebook has already restricted content in a whole host of countries according to a recent transparency report by a Californian-based company.

Facebook has worked closely with Russian authorities to ensure it doesn’t violate the integrity of the Russian federation and local law which forbids activities such as mass public riots and the promotion and sale of drugs.  There have also been similar examples in France and Pakistan.

U.S. internet companies have a practice of complying with legitimate government requests to block posted information in keeping with local laws, subject to evaluation. The New York Times suggested that the tool created in China would prevent posts from happening instead of waiting on government authorities to request to have them removed once they’ve been posted.

It is reported that Facebook may give the tool to a third-party based in China to decide what shows up in newsfeeds. Censorship software was just one of many ideas Facebook has as it tries to get back into China, according to the New York Times report.

Published in Government

Telcos, data analytics and development

Written on Wednesday, 20 January 2016 13:45

The use of data analytics by telcos was the subject of a panel session at ITU Telecom World in Budapest in October, chaired by Active Telecoms editor-in-chief Toni Eid. Here's how the ITU reported the session, arguing for the importance of data analytics in meeting development goals, and for the role of organizations like the ITU in facilitating greater usage.

Big data is increasingly being used in interesting and creative ways not just for commercial purposes but also to improve policy making around the world, in developed and emerging nations alike. From health to transport planning, emergency response, agriculture and food, there is hardly an area of government that cannot benefit from big data.

And it is big data, of course, that is driving smart cities right now, and will do so to an ever greater extent in the future. According to Ole Bjorn Sjulstad, deputy director of corporate development, Telenor Hungary, "Many cities now use big data to do their planning; this will increase a lot in future."

Call data records a good source

Among the most widely used sources of big data for policy are call detail records (CDRs) from mobile operators. CDRs also provide the most widely and easily available access to data in developing countries, making them arguably more representative than other big data sources. For this reason, suggested the panelists, mobile operator data could, to a certain extent, be considered a public good.

That very availability means developing countries with poor quality, unreliable or outdated access to statistics through traditional sources such as surveys and censuses could harness big data from CDRs to complement existing national statistics and leapfrog statistical systems. National statistical offices could play a role in terms of ensuring data quality and sharing methodologies.

Big data challenges

Nevertheless, challenges remain in the use of big data, most notably in addressing issues of security, privacy and related ethical issues on ownership of data. Plus, notions of privacy can vary widely across cultures and generations, making regulations on personal data use difficult to standardize, let alone apply in practice. Helani Galpaya, CEO of LIRNEasia, called for an attempt to standardize at national, regional or international level: "We need more guidelines for data sharing," Galpaya said.

David Manset, CEO & entrepreneur, GNUBILA, argued that any decisions on the sharing of personal data should be left to the informed end-user: "Informational self-determination is a key principle when it comes to big data," he said.

However, René Arnold, head of department markets and perspectives, WIK, pointed out that in practice this is not easy to implement, saying that individuals could not be expected to negotiate privacy with everyone who might want access to their personal details.

Given the importance of big data in meeting developmental targets, it is critical to bring together different stakeholders, including private sector, governments, NGOs and others, to enable all parts of the ecosystem to benefit. In this context, international agencies and neutral third parties such as the ITU can play an important role in facilitating the dialogue and cooperation.

Published in Featured