The World is Going Mobile

There are only a few major smartphone manufacturers as the technology needed to make (and distribute) them takes a lot of capital. These major manufacturers are mostly from Asia, but have parts made in different locations all over the world. The modern smartphone features near-ubiquitous connectivity, desktop-like processing power, and enough storage to facilitate the millions of applications that are constantly being developed for the two main OSs. The best ones feature mics and speakers that are protected from water and sand, multiple cameras that are capable of 4K video, and batteries that only slowly degrade and can be active for half-a-day on a single charge. What’s worse, these manufacturers are doing it at a time when the devices they’ve created last a few sales cycles and result in their margins noticeably shrinking. This has created less competition at the top of the market, with more people using devices manufactured by a limited amount of companies. Smartphone Markets A brief look at the global smartphone market will show you that there are now only six manufacturers with a market share of eight percent or more. They are Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo. Most of these manufacturers service emerging or Asian markets, while Apple and Samsung are the only truly global brands. In the United States, Apple is the largest distributor of smartphones with a 41 percent market share, with only Korean manufacturers Samsung (21 percent) and LG (13 percent) holding more than 10 percent of the market.  Things are basically the same in much of the English-speaking world. In the UK and Australia, Apple comes in with 49 percent and 55 percent of the market share, respectively. Samsung is a distant second with 29 percent and 22 percent, respectively. In mainland Europe, however, Samsung’s market share is nearly twice Apple’s. Overall there are over 1.5 billion smartphones shipped every year for a market that is now at nearly three billion people.  82 percent of people in the UK and 77 percent of Americans own one. Predictably, China is actually the largest smartphone market with nearly 800 million smartphone owners. Conversely, there are some places where smartphone adoption hasn’t reached high percentages. Despite having nearly 1.4 billion people, the smartphone ownership rate in India is only around 28 percent. Other potential growth markets include Indonesia (27 percent), Pakistan (14 percent), and several coastal African nations (6-to-13 percent). Innovation of the Modern Smartphone Steve Jobs is roundly credited as the “inventor” of the smartphone. Whether this is true or not is up for debate, but people in-the-know about such things say that companies were working on something like this for a decade leading up to the iPhone’s 2007 launch date. Apple’s iPhone was the first smartphone to market, but even though it was only a dozen years ago now, the devices have changed precipitously.  Innovation of technology (and of the devices) has been a major driving force in pushing the use of devices. As we stated earlier billions of people actively use (and periodically purchase) smartphones and they are always looking for new ways to use their devices. So while the fundamental technologies found inside these devices have been pretty static, any new tools, and improved specifications show up on all manufacturer flagships eventually.  The best phones are no longer […]

IT Is Fueling Innovation

Innovation Through IT It’s not a secret that lots of businesses rely on their information technology systems to run their entire business. IT fuels efficient data storage, use of stored data, and collaborative interfacing with said data. Even as that’s happening, businesses have to constantly monitor and maintain their IT systems. After all, if you depend on technology, and the technology goes down, your business isn’t going to get anything done. That is why innovations that make technology more reliable, and new tools that turn traditional business resources on its head, are moving business, and society, forward. Since this simple notion has been very difficult to put into practice, thought leaders and industry professionals are now trying to determine how to transform applications and infrastructure architectures, service delivery, DEVOps, production operations, security, and compliance. They are doing this, more than ever, by assessing what is needed and developing solutions. This is leading to the development of new solutions that will take IT out from a support capacity and make it more active in the day-to-day administration of key business tasks.  Investment in Cognitive Computing Cognitive computing is the act of using powerful computing resources machine learning and artificial intelligence to continuously process data that is received in the course of doing business. These systems include pattern recognition, language processing, and data mining to create an efficiency that isn’t possible without these technologies. As more information comes in, these technologies are being used to improve the business’ ability to shift their business in ways that can: Enhance business agility by quickening decision making. Be able to consistently scale processes to meet budgetary and operational demands. Improve the overall efficiency and performance of a business.  These technologies can also be used to support several different internal and external aspects of your business. They can help build a more robust operational structure, while also automating several of your business’ customer retention initiatives. By investing in the tools needed to create a more effective business, the “smart” business is sure to stay a step ahead of their direct competitors, and in some cases will be able to help the business to explore new avenues of revenue generation.  Information Security A data breach can be a really terrible situation for any business, especially when clients’ and employees’ personal information is stolen. Today, threats are numerous and consistent, so technologies have been developed to help organizations weed out threats. There are several innovative tools designed to improve an organization’s data security initiatives.  Many of these tools also use machine learning and artificial intelligence to actively adjust a cybersecurity policy to the threats the individual business faces. Since both sides have access to these tools, it becomes essential that companies get proficient at identifying the risks that their essential information systems present. These include: Remote access – With many businesses using workers that access data and applications from outside of their network, security solutions need to be able to secure these connections. IoT – With most businesses having dozens of unsecured endpoints in the way of IoT devices, having a strategy to keep them from becoming vulnerabilities is important.  Regulatory demands – Some businesses have certain regulations they have to comply with and have certain conditions they need to meet in order to do so. Hackers – […]

How Augmented Reality Could Shift the Workplace Forward

Let’s Define AR Augmented reality is the real-time process of enhancing reality with information using cameras and displays. Some places where AR is well-travelled include sports broadcasts, Snapchat filters, and the world famous Pokemon Go. Some businesses have even begun creating their own AR app that’s designed to increase the immersion of the consumer with their products.  AR’s Drawbacks and Opportunities A big hurdle to AR innovation has always been the reliance on devices that have small displays. The lack of technology to use AR-fueled apps leads to a lack of immersion; and, since AR is all about building immersion, it becomes a non-starter when it can’t be delivered. That’s not to say that AR isn’t useful and on the rise. Let’s take a look at some of the variables on the horizon that are sure to push AR forward fast: Connections are Faster AR depends on delivering information to users right now. With 4G LTE, developers had enough bandwidth to make it work, but with the advent of 5G, AR will now have more bandwidth to deliver information.  Hardware is Improving Hardware has improved greatly and continues to do so, making it more and more capable of handling AR’s assorted demands. Higher processing power and the improvement of sensor technology will go a long way toward fueling AR innovation. Wider Adoption and Application Many organizations are coming up with various new ways to leverage AR to their advantage. Marketing agencies have used AR as a means of boosting engagement with their efforts and initiatives. It has proven useful in training applications in various industries, especially training and development – delivering information to students and workers at the time it is needed. Reduced Costs Of course, as AR becomes more common, it also becomes more affordable for a business to deploy. As more applications and devices become able to support it, its costs should only continue to trend down. It has become apparent that AR will play a big role in the future of many industries – so, what is your impression of all of this? Is AR just a gimmick, or do you see truly legitimate uses for it in the business environment? Discuss it in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe!

No More Pencils, No More Books… Examining Technology in Education

How Has Technology Been Beneficially Introduced into Education? It may be easier to explore how it hasn’t been, to be honest. From official educational tools to the device that students tend to have in their pockets, technology is seemingly everywhere. Chalkboards have been phased out by digital smart displays, and laptops are more and more frequently seen as an essential learning device, as compared to the luxury that they were once considered. Some educators have leveraged this technology to connect with other classrooms across the world, exposing their students to different cultures. Cooperation and collaboration have become more common, as have breakthroughs being facilitated through the use of technology as an educational tool. The EdSurge on Air Podcast provided a few accounts from educators that contained anecdotal evidence of technology’s value in the learning process. One educator, Mimi Kasner, shared a story about how she had to work with a young, first grade student who was experiencing significant difficulties in learning how to read and write. It wasn’t until the little girl was introduced to a website that teaches the alphabet that something clicked, and the girl was overjoyed. More recently, Kasner was principal of a school where students were working on self-managed projects when they were interrupted by a fire drill. Teachers approached Kasner, reporting that students wanted the time that the fire drill took from their projects back to work on them. Sam Jordan, the education technology coordinator for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, also expressed how technology has impacted students. Using Skype, students in Alaska and students in Sri Lanka were able to communicate and learn from one another – despite nothing being done about the language barrier between the two groups. Technology has also made learning more interactive, boosting participation among students by “gamifying” the learning process. What sounds more engaging to you: listening to a teacher reciting facts from a textbook published in the mid-1970s, or turning the lesson into a role-playing scenario or other game, supported by the technology available? With technology, a student will always have access to the most up-to-date knowledge available, inherently improving the quality of their education. It isn’t just students who can benefit, either. Teachers can leverage technology in their classrooms to make their lives easier as well. For instance, an AI called Jill Watson was developed that could field the questions that students would ask regarding their class processes, answering what “she” could, and passing along those that she couldn’t, to a human teacher. Imagine how much a teacher could accomplish in the future if their students had a resource to turn to with their questions. From improved learning tools, to more accessible teaching methods, technology shows great promise in advancing the educator’s goals. However, there are some negative considerations to take into account. How Technology Can Hurt Education Like we said, we’re getting into the warts as well. Some studies suggest that technology can be just as much of a detriment to education as it can be a supplement. For instance, there’s the obvious issue – the risk of distraction. A survey that questioned 500 community members of the University of Waterloo found that very nearly half of them found their technology to be distracting, and 68 percent of teachers found the use of […]

Foldable Screens Enter Smartphone Market

OLED Foldable Screens The first thing you should know about the technology that allows a display to fold is that it is an innovation from LED (light-emitting diode) technology. The LED is a semiconductor light source that emits light when an electric current flows through it. It works through a process called electroluminescence. As electrons in the semiconductor recombine with electron holes, energy is released as photons. The color of the light emitted depends on how the photons cross the energy gap of the semiconductor. In an OLED display, the electroluminescent anode is made from an organic compound. It is situated between two electrodes, and as the electrons move and recombine, light is produced through the emissive organic layer. Since it already produced visible light and not just a charge of targeted energy, no backlight is needed. As a result, OLED displays typically display deep black levels (which help in image contrast) and can be produced thin and flexible. Over the past five years, many different manufacturers have made use of OLED displays. Some are PMOLED (using a passive-matrix design) and some are AMOLED (using an active-matrix design). The difference is the PMOLED display has control of each line of pixels sequentially, while the AMOLED display uses a transistor to directly access pixel function. Bendable Displays This doesn’t really get us closer to why OLED displays can be so flexible. Inherently, the organic compounds found in an OLED anode are able to be manipulated any which way, as long as the transistor used to carry the energy formed by the electric current is also flexible. Once scientists figured out that problem, it was a simple task of finding a substrate layer that was able to flex while maintaining its integrity while bending. This is why glass, while used in most of the smartphones up to this point, isn’t an option for flexible screens. The flexible OLED displays typically make use of a flexible plastic substrate that provides the right mix of flex and strength that a foldable device needs to be effective. Foldable Options Some of the top manufacturers like Motorola and Apple are rumored to have foldable smartphones ready for market sometime in the near future, but there are plenty of manufacturers, including the world’s most successful smartphone manufacturer, who is ready to launch their first foldable phone. Let’s look at some of the options you may see in 2019: Samsung Galaxy Fold https://youtu.be/7r_UgNcJtzQ Available to the public on April 26, 2019, the Samsung Fold, is the first foldable smartphone to hit the United States’ smartphone market. Reportedly carrying an antenna capable of 5G speeds, it is a seminal phone in multiple ways. The biggest draw, however is the foldable screen. The unfolded screen measures at 7.3-inches and features a new Dynamic AMOLED display. When folded up, there is a 4.6-inch Super AMOLED display on the front of the phone. There is still no word how the software will integrate with the two displays. The Galaxy Fold features a strong 64-bit, octa-core processor and 12 GB of RAM. It comes standard with 512 GB of internal storage. The battery clocks in at 4,380 mAh. There are still a lot of questions being asked, and not many answers to be had about the Galaxy Fold. Huawei Mate X https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_c2KGtZP64 The […]