Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How to Adjust GPS Personal Geofencing in Reminders for iPhone and iPad

As reported by The Mac Observer: Geofencing - what is that, anyway? Some high-tech national border security measure?

No… it’s technology that, among other things, allows for the creation of virtual boundaries via GPS-enabled, location-aware smart devices. Geofencing technology has been around for several years, but used only for the likes of Bond, James Bond, and others of that ilk. For mere mortals, this technology is now available on our iPhones as well as on our assisted-GPS, wireless/cellular equipped iPads.

You can see geofencing in action on your iOS device by using the Reminders app. Recently, I discovered quite by accident - and was delighted to learn - that the geofencing perimeter can be adjusted. Here's how.

First and foremost, you need to have Location Services enabled for all this to work. To verify this, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
The Location Services settings panel
Verify that Location Services is enabled globally and for Reminders
There you will find the master switch; make sure it’s on. Further down, you will see a list of all apps on your device that support Location Services. You can keep enabled just the ones you want. It’s probably a good idea to go through these and fine-tune your settings. In any event, scroll down until you locate Reminders, and make sure Location Services is enabled.
For everything to work as described in this article, you also need to make sure that notifications are enabled for the Reminders app. This is done via Settings > Notification Center.
The Notification Center settings panel
Verify that Reminders is included in the set of apps that use Notification Services
Make sure that Reminders is listed in the Include section. From there, you can configure the Reminders notification just the way you want.
Back to the Reminders app…
In Reminders you have the ability to set what are known as Location Reminders. That is, you can be alerted about a reminder based on when you arrive or leave a location. This is what geofencing is all about!

Let’s use one of my own scenarios as an example. I tend to procrastinate when it comes to cleaning up my office. I want to be automatically reminded to work on this task each and every time I am about to pull into my garage. Thanks to the Location Services and Geofencing features supported by the Reminders app on my iPhone, I am alerted via a notification as I am entering into a pre-defined perimeter radius surrounding my business.
Here are the steps in Reminders for setting up a Location Reminder based on when you arrive or leave a location:
1. Add a new reminder by first tapping one of your lists where you want it to appear, then tap a blank line.
2. While editing your reminder, tap the Info button for a list of details regarding the reminder. Remember that to see the Info button you must tap on the reminder to enter the Edit Reminder mode.
A To Do list in Reminders
The Info button is only visible when tapping a reminder
3. In the Details panel, enable the Remind me at a Location switch.
The Details panel of a reminder
Tapping on the Info button takes you to the reminder’s Details panel
4. Tap Location, then choose a location from the list, or enter an address.
5. Select whether you want to be notified upon arrival or upon leaving the address.
The Location Details panel of a reminder
 Choose or enter a location and drag the geofence perimeter to modify it
6. You can accept the predefined perimeter of the geofence or adjust it by dragging in or out the black dot defining the edge of the geofence. This sets the approximate distance at which you want to be reminded.
7. Tap on Details at the top-left to return to the Details panel, where you can set other options like priority, which list you want this reminder to appear in, and any notes regarding this reminder.
8. Tap on Done at the top-right. You’re all set!
The finished reminder in the To Do list of Reminders
When the reminder is configured, all details are visible in the main Reminders app
It may be useful to know that you can add common locations to your personal info card in the Contacts app. When you set a location reminder, locations in the list include addresses from your card. For instance, add your work, home, and other favorite addresses to your card for easy access in Reminders.
Finally, don’t forget that you are also able to silence all notifications temporarily by turning on Do Not Disturb. This is configured in Settings > Do Not Disturb.

Why not familiarize yourself with Geofence technology? Moving forward, it will become a key player in advancing the “personal assistant” attributes of our devices – those that we could merely dream about in the past.

Smartphones Become The New House Keys

As reported by the Star TribuneFor Raffi Kajberouni, the keys to his Santa Clarita, Calif., home have become relics.

If he locks himself out, no problem. If a friend arrives at his two-story house before him, there’s no waiting outside for Kajberouni to arrive. 
Kajberouni taps his smartphone and his front door unlocks.
He can also turn down the thermostat or view his home security cameras from ­anywhere in the world.
“A lot of my friends are jealous,” the 31-year-old said. “It’s like the home from ‘Back to the Future,’ but in real life.”  From complete home ­systems to such individual Internet-connected products as high-tech appliances and power strips, the smart home is no longer a futuristic gimmick.
The technology behind smart gadgets — items that can be controlled remotely or perform tasks on their own — has been around for decades, but until recently the devices were rudimentary and, above all, expensive.
“It had always been an upscale-type business: Unless you were in the top 5 percent of income levels, you didn’t have access to this type of connectivity,” said Randy Light, ­merchant of home automation for Home Depot.
Wireless Internet and the widespread proliferation of smartphones are making smart home technologies more sophisticated — and ­affordable.
“This used to be something out of ‘The Jetsons’ or limited to the super-rich,” said Jonathan Dorsheimer, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity. But as smart home technology has improved and costs have come down, “it’s becoming more mainstream.”
Analysts estimate that only a small single-digit percentage of homeowners have smart homes. But the home automation systems and services market is expected to see enormous growth and is forecast to reach $14.7 billion in revenue globally by 2017, up from $3.6 billion last year, according to NextMarket Insights.
These days, a wide swath of companies are clamoring to sell smart systems, including home security firms, telecommunications giants such as AT&T and Verizon, cable ­providers and utilities.
That’s expected to help “propel the market from its fairly modest size today to one which serves more than 35 million households by 2017,” NextMarket said in its recent report.
Meanwhile, technology giants such as Samsung and LG are rolling out individual smart home products, part of the “Internet of things” trend that has seen Net ­connectivity make its way into everyday items.
The housing recovery also could fuel growth if owners choose to pull out their rising equity to give their homes high-tech upgrades.
And as Americans purchase more newly built homes, they may increasingly find those digs fully integrated with their phones. Some of the nation’s largest homebuilders now market tech-equipped houses’ advantages over older homes.
Although new homes are usually more expensive, builders have emphasized the long-term cost savings owners can reap through solar panels and the ability to monitor and change their energy usage with smart devices.
That’s because computerized controls in one’s home and on appliances can be set to respond to signals from energy providers to minimize ­electricity consumption at times when the power grid is under stress from high demand. Homeowners can even shift some of their power use to times when electricity is available at a lower cost. The so-called smart grid — a digital network enabling utilities, consumers and alternative sources of renewable energy to “talk” to one another instantaneously — steers electricity to where it is needed most.
Russell Chang and his wife recently purchased a four-bedroom house in Irvine, Calif., complete with solar panels and several home automation ­offerings from Miami-based Lennar Corp. Since they purchased the house in November for a little more than $1 million, he has enjoyed ensuring that the house is warm before he steps inside.
The high-tech options didn’t drive his decision to purchase, although he said the perks helped him decide that “this is the right home for us.”
“It really put the icing on the cake,” the 40-year-old said. “We know we are going to get cost savings.”
Not for everyone
Smart home technology isn’t for everyone. For many, it’s not too much trouble to set the washing machine or dishwasher manually or wait until getting home to turn up the heat. And smart home products are still more expensive than old-school items.
Analysts also point out that in many cases, it could take years for the savings from reduced energy use to offset the cost of installing a home system.
But the market is surging ahead. Los Angeles-based builder KB Home now offers a base home automation system in all of its new communities nationwide. The standard system enables owners to track their energy use through the Internet.
Home buyers can then add options, including appliances, a thermostat, lighting, security cameras and locks that they can control through smartphones and tablets. Solar power also comes standard in most of the firm’s Southern California communities.
A smart refrigerator, for instance, can be set to make ice only at night, when energy demand is lower. And parents can keep track of their children through security cameras they view using their Internet-connected devices.
“If you are a working family and your kid is supposed to be home at 3 p.m., they can actually go on their computer at work and see the kid is home at 3,” said Steve Ruffner, president of KB Home’s Southern California division.
If a child didn’t arrive home, an e-mail can alert parents that their alarm wasn’t disarmed by a scheduled time.
For about $1,600, a home buyer can turn a home into a smart one with smart lights, a high-tech front door lock, a Wi-Fi-controllable security system with a camera and a smart thermostat, said Kirk Page, president of KPS Alarms of Ontario, Calif.

Monday, December 30, 2013

GPS-Tagged Sharks Post Location to Twitter, Alerting Beachgoers

The Twitter feed of Surf Life Saving Western Australia - a non-
profit group dedicated to beach-goer safety is being accessed
regularly by GPS-tagged sharks that tweet their breed, size, and
location, alerting beach-goers to their presence.  The great white
shown above is called 'Genie'.  Genie measures nearly 15 ft, and
weighs in at 2,292 lbs.  The tracking device shown above is attached to
her dorsal fin.
As reported by Nature World NewsThe Twitter feed of Surf Life Saving Western Australia - a non-profit group dedicated to beach-goer safety - is being accessed regularly by GPS-tagged sharks that tweet their breed, size and location, alerting beach-goers to their presence.
The tweets are sent when one of more than 320 tagged sharks is identified by a monitoring system that sends an alert to Surf Life Saving Western Australia computers when the shark swims within about a kilometer of a beach, according to Australia's Sky News.
The tweet gives the size and type of shark, as well as its approximate location. One tweet posted Thursday alerted swimmers of a great white shark:
"Fisheries advise: White Shark 2.5 - 3m, had been sighted at Rottnest 500m offshore from Pt Clune. Sighting @ 1535 Reported @ 1610."
Location information for a great white shark
off of the South African coast named Madiba.
The speed at which the shark location data can reach people may ultimately save lives. Western Australia is the world's deadliest place for shark attacks - six people have died there from shark attacks in the past two years, Sky News reported.
There are about 160 species of sharks known to inhabit Australian waters, according to Surf Life Saving Western Australia, and three of them are considered to be a risk to human safety: the great white, the tiger shark and the bull shark.
The majority of shark fatalities in Western Australia are attributed to white sharks, the group states on its website.
The official Department of Fisheries Western Australia web page acknowledges the partnership between the government and Surf Life Saving Western Australia, linking to the Twitter account and stating that the partnership is aimed to "develop new strategies for beach goers and users of the aquatic environment on the risks associated with sharks​."
The track of Mary Lee, a great white shark
off the East coast of the USA.
"These detections and WA's extensive receiver network are contributing to important research to help the government to better understand the movements of white sharks through WA waters, as well as playing a major public safety role," Rory McAuley, Department of Fisheries principal research scientist, told Sky News.
"The battery life of internal acoustic tags is up to 10 years so the scientific data that may be collected from this shark is unprecedented."

You can view some near real-time shark locations at:  or you can follow the Surf Life Saving WA twitter feed at:

Bomb-Hoaxing Harvard Student Used Anonymous Web Browser and Email, Yet Was Still Caught. How?

As reported by Electronic Products: This story is actually a pretty good lesson on the limits of online privacy.

In case you missed this story from earlier in the month, Harvard Student Eldo Kim sent in an anonymous email to school officials claiming two bombs had been placed in two buildings on campus.

The point behind his doing this? To get Kim out of his finals.

The result? The school shut down and a media frenzy ensued.

But no sooner did the story get picked up by the various news outlets was Kim caught and the threat proved a hoax.

Truth be told, catching Kim shouldn't have been that easy. According to an FBI affidavit, the student sent the threat using a Tor browser, which 'anonymizes' a user’s web browsing, paired with Guerilla Mail, an anonymous email program.

Typically, this would be enough to shield Kim’s identity.

So what was his mistake?

He sent the threat while connected to Harvard’s wireless Internet system.

According to the FBI’s report, Tor half-worked for Kim; that is, the police couldn't see what he was doing on the browser, but because his computer was connected to the University’s wireless network, coupled with the fact that he was using a cloaking service not only very early in the morning but also at the same time the threatening emails were sent in, his location became pretty easy to identify.

The lesson here, beyond the fact that one should not email fake bomb threats just to get out of a test, is that if you’re using free Wi-Fi, you need to lower your expectations in terms of privacy. A lot of people nowadays assume that if they take the proper precautions when it comes to protecting their online identity and activities, they’re always protected, and that’s not the case. If you use a public service like free Wi-Fi, you should expect to give up a little bit of your information in exchange.

NASA LADEE Lunar Mission Confirms Potential of Laser Communications In Space

As reported by NDTVNASA has completed its 30-day lunar laser mission which confirmed that the possibility of expanding broadband capabilities in space using laser communications is as bright as expected.  

Hosted aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), for its ride to lunar orbit, the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) mission was designed to confirm laser communication capabilities from a distance of almost a quarter-of-a-million miles, NASA said.

In addition to demonstrating record-breaking data download and upload speeds to the Moon at 622 megabits per second (Mbps) and 20 Mbps, respectively, LLCD also showed that it could operate as well as any NASA radio system.

"Throughout our testing we did not see anything that would prevent the operational use of this technology in the immediate future," said Don Cornwell, LLCD mission manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

For example, LLCD demonstrated error-free communications during broad daylight, including operating when the moon was to within three degrees of the Sun as seen from Earth.

LLCD also demonstrated error-free communications when the Moon was low on the horizon, less than 4 degrees, as seen from the ground station, which also demonstrated that wind and atmospheric turbulence did not significantly impact the system. LLCD was even able to communicate through thin clouds, an unexpected bonus.

Operationally, LLCD demonstrated the ability to download data from the LADEE spacecraft itself.
"We were able to download LADEE's entire stored science and spacecraft data (one gigabyte) in less than five minutes, which was only limited to our 40 Mbps connection to that data within LADEE," said Cornwell.

Using LADEE's onboard radio system would take several days to complete a download of the same stored data.

Additionally, LLCD was to prove the integrity of laser technology to send not only error-free data but also uncorrupted commands and telemetry or monitoring messages to and from the spacecraft over the laser link.

LLCD also demonstrated the ability to "hand-off" the laser connection from one ground station to another, just as a cellphone does a hand-off from one cell tower to another.

An additional achievement was the ability to operate LLCD without using LADEE's radio at all.
"We were able to program LADEE to awaken the LLCD space terminal and have it automatically point and communicate to the ground station at a specific time without radio commands.

This demonstrates that this technology could serve as the primary communications system for future NASA missions," said Cornwell.

The ability of LLCD to send and receive high definition video was proven with a message from NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, completing the trip to the Moon and back with only a few seconds of delay.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Companies Looking to Profit with Niche Fleet Markets - Like Towing

As reported by GPS World: Niche markets for location companies are sometimes hit-and-miss. One real opportunity that is gaining more traction among location companies is towing.

There are legions of Duck Dynasty-type of towing trade show attendees, but you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. There is tons of money in the towing industry as banks, insurance companies, motor clubs and other technology entities are flocking to these shows. Many times that scruffy-looking guy in a Duck Dynasty T-shirt is a multi-million-dollar owner of a big towing company. 

Although it is a strong niche market, the towing industry is gaining traction among the dozen or so location companies that were exhibing at the recent American Towman Exposition there.  

Location companies exhibiting asked towing operators to look at the usual benefits of their products: fuel savings, dispatching tow trucks to the nearest incident, reducing idle time, reduced overtime hours, monitoring of speeds and other features. 
Several financial institutions were on site who acknowledged the importance of tracking and monitoring technology in towing company fleets and headquarters. One banker said that he will not give a loan to a towing company unless it has, across a fleet, a real-time tracking system. The same goes for many insurance companies.
One challenge that location companies may have in smaller niche markets is volume. One company says it cannot sell to fleets with five or fewer trucks.
In related GPS/location news:
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently said that more than two-thirds of the calls to 911 emergency centers in Texas from wireless phones do not include the accurate location information necessary to find a caller in crisis. The data, provided to the FCC by state and local 911 agencies, show a dramatic drop in more accurate “Phase II” data in Texas from 67 percent of all wireless calls in January 2011 to just 33 percent in June 2013, despite a dramatic increase in cell phone calls over the same period.
  • C.J. Driscoll & Associates released a new multi-client marketing research study covering U.S. fleet operators with Mobile Resource Management systems and services. The 2013-14 Survey of Fleet Operator Interest in MRM Systems and Services assesses fleet operator interest in GPS fleet management, driver behavior management, and GPS-equipped handset/portable solutions for managing mobile workers. The study was partially funded by 14 companies, including major cellular carriers, GPS fleet management solution providers, suppliers of driver behavior management systems, and other leading telematics suppliers to the fleet market. The following are among the key findings of the study: More than three-fourths of the fleets that are using a GPS fleet management system reported a high level of satisfaction with their system and two-thirds reported that they have recouped their investment in the system. Another study finding indicates participating fleets that have never used a GPS fleet management system expect to deploy a system in the next 12-18 months.
  • MapQuest, which hasn’t gotten the publicity of Google Maps or Apple, recently rolled out a new mapping application, which was a nine-month project. The new mapping app features layers of information “around” a user such as coffee, bars, gas, banks and parking. The new app gets traffic updates on the fly and works more like a standard GPS system, according to published reports. MapQuest is still the number 3 mobile map provider, which is a quiet stat given how long the company has been around in the location industry.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Year in Mobile: 2013

As reported by GIS User:   Just like there is no “year of electric cars” or “year of razor blades” or “year of the Greek yogurt,” there is no “year of mobile” or “year of this or that.” However, as we have seen over the 30+ years of mobile evolution, the next year is better than the previous one and so on and so forth. So, 2013 ends in the long tradition and continuum of human endeavor to make significant progress in multiple mobile dimensions and make an impact on individuals and societies alike. 2013 proved that connectivity has become the core of our fabric and we are entering the “connected intelligence era” that will enable the Golden Age of Mobile.

In no particular order, here were some of the highlights of mobile 2013:

Number of mobile subscriptions ~ humans: the total number of mobile subscriptions got tantalizing close to the number of humans on the planet. Next year, we will go past the milestone but it shows the pervasiveness and strength of the mobile technology that it has become the basic part of our Maslow’s hierarchy.

More data please: As smartphones approach the 2B mark, the data appetite of consumers showed no signs of abating. In Sweden, the mobile broadband subs are consuming over 7GB/mo. In the US, some Android devices are consuming over 4 GB/mo on average. Operators will need to continue to refine their pricing and margin models as the demand for more spectrum will continue.

The dominance of Samsung and Apple: The tussles in the device segment has all the intrigue and juxtaposition of a Shakespearean drama and the ups and downs of a Pavarotti’s masterpiece. Through sheer muscle tenacity and the execution speed of Usain Bolt, Samsung was able to firmly dominate 2013 despite Apple’s grip on the high-end smartphone market. These two account for almost 50% of the smartphone shipments and almost all of the profits in the space. Apple continued to set the tone for the market with the launches of new iPhones and iPads. Though iOS trails Android in raw deployment, it trounces it in consumer usage. It is also remarkable how quickly consumers upgrade to the latest iOS in stark contrast with the Android fragmentation. Apple finally got access to the big Chinese market.

The disappearance of the legacy device brands: Nokia, Motorola, and RIM were dominant players a few years ago but Apple ensured the smartphone script is rewritten. They all made serious strategic errors one after another and while Nokia and Motorola have found new families to host their aspirations, their story should be a reminder of the turbulent cycles of the device business and that the complacency virus spares no one. The rise of the local OEMs should keep everyone on their toes in 2014.

Android juggernaut: In 2013, Android continued to create distance with Apple in terms of downloads, easily going past the mind boggling 1 billion milestone. Android has changed the industry for the better. While there is trouble in the house, Android will continue to play a major role in the device and app ecosystem in 2014.

The growth of OTT Services: As we discussed in our 4th wave paper earlier this year, OTT Services will be the biggest growth segment for the next decade. In 2013, the segment grew 50% ahead of any other telecom segment. Young IP messaging stalwarts fundamentally altered the messaging landscape with Whatsapp performing exceptionally. SMS usage and revenue numbers were impacted worldwide.

The digital revenue streams are very distributed with diverse players such as Facebook, Twitter, Starbucks, Expedia, Uber, Pandora, Amazon, AT&T, Telefonica, Verizon, DoCoMo, Netflix, China Mobile, Rovio, Square, Softbank, Ebay, Hertz, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. In our work with players around the world this year, it is clear that there is significant energy and application in mining the opportunities on the 4th wave. With nascent efforts in Bhutan, Vietnam, Malaysia to moonshots in the US and Europe, mobile is rewriting the rules in virtually every industry. Fasten your seat belts for another fast paced year in 2014.

Post-PC beat PC+: Apple expertly wrote the post-PC narrative and while the PC+ crowd has a legit argument, perception is often reality and there in no doubt that from here on out, the industry will be talking about the post-PC world in one voice. Even Microsoft will grudgingly admit to the transition and likely shift its strategy accordingly. As we wrote long time ago, Tablets have fundamentally altered the computing paradigm. In our SMB research released earlier this year, it was clear that smartphones and tablets are the tools of choice for the enterprise and that is not only altering the device business but also the software landscape. Mobile broadband, the cloud, and the applications are altering the enterprises – big and small. Microsoft should take solace from a tough year of progress. Blackberry is practically done and Microsoft has established itself as the distant but a viable third mobile ecosystem. Had it not been for a series of strategic mistakes, Microsoft might have made better inroads in 2013.

LTE launches: LTE is the fastest growing generation of cellular technology in the history. With over 250 networks launched, the desire to launch IP networks quickly is on top of the agenda. US leads with all major operators having substantial LTE deployments but other nations are fast catching up. While there has been quite a bit of focus on LTE, WiFi has been emerging as the white knight and its importance only grew in 2013 with 60-70% of the mobile data traffic being carried by WiFi networks in most of the countries. It might lead to some interesting business models in the coming years. 5G entered the industry lexicon.

M&As: It is natural for fast growing and competitive industries to consolidate. 2013 wasn't any different. There were some blockbuster and expected M&As: Microsoft acquired Nokia, Softbank surprised with Sprint/Clearwire acquisition, Verizon finally got hold of its destiny from Vodafone. As we have eluded to several times in our past research notes, we expect the global M&A to continue with several block buster deals slated for 2014. Stay tuned.

Patent wars: In maturing markets, patent wars are the unfortunate part of the ongoing battle for dominance. Mobile saw its share of patent wars. With roughly quarter of the USPTO grants becoming mobile related, it shouldn't come as a surprise though.

Regulatory tussles: Regulators are generally always behind in understanding a fast growing industry. It was clear in 2013, that the convergence of the computing and communications world has left the regulatory world woefully short of expertise and imagination. Governments around the world will do better by hiring folks from the industry to get a grip of the fast-paced every-changing dynamics of the mobile world as the very competitiveness of a nation depends on it. From spectrum to privacy, from competition to commerce, regulators need to get up to speed on unexpected trajectories of the new world.

Security and Privacy: From Snowden revelations to industrial espionage, from credit card data loss to enterprise security, the security and privacy of mobile data, applications, networks, and devices became front and center of the security and privacy debate.

Operator disruption plays: In the telecom space, the #4 player generally doesn't have a big impact on the overall mechanics of the industry. However, when it has nothing to lose, it can provide a potent dose of disruption to the market. Free in France and T-Mobile in the US were examples of that this year. In France, by offering cheap mobile data services at low margins, the newcomer altered the economics of the segment tumbling the incumbent revenues by 10%. In the US, through a series of financial and marketing maneuvers, T-Mobile was able to alter its net-add trajectory and had meaningful sub gains for the first time in three years. Also, for the first time, T-Mobile forced the top three to react to its moves and not the other way around. It also inspired other smaller players in other countries to rethink their strategies.

Connected devices: The promise of M2M and connected devices has been there for some time. Internet of Things (IoT) has morphed into the gimmicky Internet of Everything. While the hockey stick curve hasn't arrived yet, there was plenty to celebrate with the introductions of Google Glasses, wearables, fitness bands, smart watches, connected autos, glamorous thermostats, winking light bulbs, home security and energy management solutions and much more. GE is spending billions for its “industrial Internet” initiative. A nice platform has been set for continued feverish growth and product introductions in 2014.

Mobile’s impact on commerce: Mobile is changing every industry but its impact on commerce is particularly notable. In the 2013 holiday season (according to IBM), mobile made 17% of the online sales increasing over 55% from 2012. Tablet users spent $126/order.

Meteoric rise of mobile apps: In 2010, we evaluated the impact mobile apps will have on the industry. Much of the growth has been expected, however the players who lead in revenue and downloads have fluctuated across the various platforms. In 2013, Google started to match Apple in downloads though Apple easily wins in the revenues category and thus still remains more attractive to the developers though the gap is closing.

There was much more – Twitter IPO, Surface, Moto X, spectrum scandals, Facebook’s love for mobile, Google mobile advertising dominance, the rise of the Chinese OEMs, decline of HTC, and several other events captivated our attention.

2014 is going to be another terrific year for mobile. The progress and surprises will come from all quarters. New players will emerge, new business models will take hold, and we will take a significant step forward in the new year. I am sure that you all will do your part in shaping the mobile cosmos.

Fuel ‘Fingerprints’ Could Mean More Efficient Vehicle Engines

As reported by GigaOM: Modern cars are crammed with computers that measure and respond to everything from brake pressure to luxury features. Soon, they will also come with a mini-computer than can sniff the contents of gasoline and tell the engine how to react.
The new technology, which relies on a $25 sensor, promises to improve fuel efficiency and reduce pollution. It also shows how many of the sensors and connected computers that used to found only in industrial operations are making their way into everyday things.
Thousands of fuels - and none of them fit
“Many people don’t realize that fuel is not the same every ten miles you go,” said Alain Lunati, a former petroleum executive who now heads SP3H, a startup based in Aix-en-Provence, France.
As Lunati explained in a recent phone interview, the gas we buy varies from station to station due to factors like the refinery source or the additives that gas retailers add to the fuel blend.
The difference in gasoline matters because car engines are built and calibrated around one specific gas blend that varies with each car model. Optimal engine performance occurs when the car uses the exact same gasoline that the auto maker did; however, in reality, a driver has little hope of finding that same fuel when it’s time to fill the tank.
“The engine is only calibrated with one fuel, but there are an infinite number of fuels,” said Lunati. “It’s statistically impossible to find the fuel that is calibrated with your engine.”
As part of its research, SP3H has sampled 3000 different fuel blends from 60 countries.
The fact that you’re not using the same fuel as the manufacturer doesn't mean, of course, that you’re harming your vehicle. Your car is doing just fine since engines are built to ingest a standardized range of fuel variations, and gas stations ensure that what they sell falls within this range. (And there’s no need to buy that premium gas, by the way).
The issue, instead, is a question of waste. According to Lunati, cars’ use of non-optimal fuel means a decline in fuel efficiency of up to 5 percent and up to a 20 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Those numbers are not jaw-dropping for an individual car. But what if this inefficiency could be reduced across a nation’s entire vehicle fleet?

Personalized gasoline

When he worked at petrol giant BP, Lunati said he used industrial sensors that could detect the precise molecular composition of fuel. The sensors, which are also used in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, stood three feet high and cost over $3 million apiece — hardly a practical option to strap onto a Toyota Camry or Ford Focus.
Now, though, SP3H is producing a mini-version of the sensors for cars that uses near-infrared technology to acquire a “fuel fingerprint” of whatever is in the tank. This information can then be relayed to the car’s central computer system, which can in turn direct the engine to adjust the fuel injection, consumption and treatment process.
The system, which can be applied to gasoline, diesel or any other type of fuel, is not part of the auto manufacturing process yet, but Lunati said it soon will be.
“The system is already there. Cars now have around 60 computers, including one for engine optimization that uses 10 parameters that adjust in real time to outside temp, the temperature of engine, pressure, altitude, and more.”
He added that SP3H already has deals with car makers around the world, and is in talks with one of America’s two auto giants to license the patented technology. SP3H’s business plan calls for the car companies and parts makers to manufacture and and integrate the sensor as they see fit, and expects test models to be on the road by next year.
A SP3H prototype envisions the sensor to be about 3 inches long and a few hundred grams, and to cost about $25.
A cleaner global fleet
If SP3H succeeds, the result will be a new low-cost way to monitor fuel quality on the road and in real time. This could yield an immediate reduction in CO2 from vehicles, especially if more countries also adopt the start-stop technology that is taking off in Europe.
And in places like China and Brazil, where SP3H plans to road-test them first, the sensors could make an additional difference. According to Lunati, the fuel quality in such countries varies to a much greater extent from gas station to gas station than it does in the U.S. or Europe — and the fuel product from some unethical sellers is so bad it can kill engines. The mini-sensors could make it easy to find out who is selling bad or dirty fuel to the benefit of both motorists and the air.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bridge Inspection Robot has Magnetic Wheels, Shuffles up Walls

As reported by Engadget: Most wall-climbing robots rely on advanced forms of suction to keep them adhered to a flat surface, but Japan's latest wall crawler employs a different method: magnets. Hailing from the Osaka City University Graduate School of Engineering, BIREM (which stands for Bridge Inspection Robot Equipping Magnets) is designed to -- as the name suggests -- inspect bridges. Riding four spoked wheels adorned with eight magnets a piece, it can creep across metal girders at a rate of 7.8 inches per second. Its flexible midsection promises to give it an edge over uneven structures, and its creators hope that it will eventually lower infrastructure inspection costs. You won't see it crawling across the Golden Gate any time soon, however -- the team doesn't expect to commercialize it for another three years.

Telematics Evidence Helps Prove Knife Attacker’s Location in Court Case

As reported by Fleet World:  Daniel Paita has been convicted for a knife attack on a man in Glasgow in February last year after the device pinpointed his location despite Paita claiming he was not in the area on the day.  

The evidence collected by the device was passed onto the police by motor anti-fraud team Asset Protection Unit Ltd (APU), which now works closely with Police forces to reduce motor fraud.   

After Paita was sentenced Thursday. the 19th of December at The High Court, Edinburgh, APU’s Neil Thomas was clear about the role telematics can play and the benefits of private anti-fraud teams cooperating with the police.

‘It is extremely pleasing to have been an important cog in convicting an individual like this, it might never have happened at all had the device not been installed in his car. They are able to generate data about the inner workings of a vehicle but also show its location at any time, which is a great help to us, the police and victims if vehicles are used for criminal activity,’ said Thomas.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nearly Half of All Phones in UAE are Smartphones

As reported by The National: Nearly half of the registered phones in the UAE are smartphones, new data from the telecoms regulator showed.

“During the period between July 1, 2013 and September 30, 2013, 46 per cent of handsets registered on the UAE’s networks were smartphones, a figure that has increased during each quarter in 2013,” the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said in a statement.

That is up two percentage points from June, when the smartphone penetration rate stood at 44 per cent.  At this rate, smartphones would account for half the phone market sometime around the middle of 2014.

The TRA report also showed that the iPhone 5 was the most popular smartphone in the country during the quarter, with a 2.8 per cent share of all registered handsets. Coming second was the Samsung S3 with 2.5 per cent. The iPhone 4S came third with 2.3 per cent, and tied for fourth were the iPhone4 and BlackBerry 9900 at 1.8 per cent.

Following them were: Samsung S4 at 1.6 per cent; Galaxy S Duos at 1.2 per cent; BlackBerry Bold 9790 at 1.1 per cent; and BlackBerry Bold 9780 at 1 per cent.

Overall, Nokia dominated the market with a 56.2 per cent market share. Samsung came second with 16.4 per cent. Third was BlackBerry with 10.2 per cent, and fourth was Apple with 7.8 per cent, then LG at 1 per cent, Sony at 0.9 per cent, Huawei at 0.5 per cent and HTC at 0.6 per cent.

“Unlike Nokia and Blackberry, Samsung and Apple recorded increases in their market shares in third quarter,” said the report.

Apple’s iTunes was the most popular applications website during the quarter, followed by Nokia OVI; Samsung Apps; BlackBerry App World; and Android Applications, the report says.

Users of smartphones and fixed line phones made a total of 13.7 billion visits to social media sties during the quarter. Facebook topped the list with 91 per cent of the visits. It was followed by Twitter with 8 per cent of the total visits, Maktoob at 0.1 per cent, then LinkedIn and MySpace.

Friday, December 20, 2013

California Bill Would Require 'Kill Switch' For Smartphones

As reported by USA TodayTwo California officials have announced plans to introduce legislation requiring smartphones to have a "kill switch" that would render stolen or lost devices inoperable.

State Sen. Mark Leno and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced Thursday that the bill they believe will be the first of its kind in the United States will be formally introduced in January at the start of the 2014 legislative session.
Leno, a San Francisco Democrat, joins Gascon, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other law enforcement officials nationwide who have been demanding that manufacturers create kill switches to combat surging smartphone theft across the country.
"One of the top catalysts for street crime in many California cities is smartphone theft, and these crimes are becoming increasingly violent," Leno said. "We cannot continue to ignore our ability to utilize existing technology to stop cellphone thieves in their tracks. It is time to act on this serious public safety threat to our communities."
Almost 1 in 3 U.S. robberies involve phone theft, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Lost and stolen mobile devices — mostly smartphones — cost consumers more than $30 billion last year, according to a study cited by Schneiderman in June.
In San Francisco alone, more than 50 percent of all robberies involve the theft of a mobile device, and in Los Angeles mobile phone thefts are up almost 12 percent in the last year, the San Francisco DA's office said.
Samsung Electronics, the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer, earlier this year proposed installing a kill switch in its devices. But the company told Gascon's office the nation's biggest carriers rejected the idea.
But the CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group for wireless providers, says a permanent kill switch has serious risks, including potential vulnerability to hackers who could disable mobile devices and lock out not only individuals' phones but also phones used by entities such as the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies.
The CTIA has been working with the FCC, law enforcement agencies and elected officials on a national stolen phone database that debuted last month.
Gascon and Schneiderman have given manufacturers a June 2014 deadline to come up with solutions to curb the theft of stolen smartphones.
"I appreciate the efforts that many of the manufacturers are making, but the deadline we agreed upon is rapidly approaching and most do not have a technological solution in place," Gascon said. "Californians continue to be victimized at an alarming rate, and this legislation will compel the industry to make the safety of their customers a priority."