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Hot Hardware at Uplinq Day 1

Veteran developers may recall that Qualcomm’s annual Uplinq Conference began as the Brew Developer Conference for mobile software developers. The event has grown into a show for the entire mobile ecosystem, something with everything under one roof.

Uplinq 2013 kicked off with Hardware Day, featuring a showcase of exciting new hardware technologies coming to smartphones. Many of the technologies were demoed on Qualcomm Snapdragon devices. 

Here is some of the fun tech we ran into:

Toshiba TransferJet and HDR Image Sensor

Toshiba was showing off a short-range wireless technology called TransferJet, which can pass data between devices at 560 Megabits per second. Compare that to peak speeds of some other common wireless technologies:

NFC = .424 Mbps

Bluetooth 4.0= 24 Mbps

Wi-Fi Direct = 250 Mbps

What’s cool about TransferJet is that it requires no pairing.  Just tap the TransferJet devices together to send a file.

The demo we saw used a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Mobile Development Smartphone and Tablet that had been customized with TransferJet radios.  A 50 Megabyte file flew between two devices in about four seconds.

Toshiba also had USB adapters on display, meaning that any Android or Windows device with a USB port can have TransferJet added to it externally.

Toshiba also had a new image sensor on display that shoots HDR (high dynamic range) video in real time.  Creating HDR still images is done typically by taking at least two photos—one overexposed and one underexposed—then merging the two. To achieve HDR video, Toshiba’s image sensor sets one pixel to underexpose and the adjacent one to overexpose. Clever.

Cellrox

Yes, we said this was Hardware Day, but this booth offered such an interesting product we couldn’t resist. Cellrox software secures your single mobile device by allowing it to run two versions of Android simultaneously. The goal is to keep your personal Android experience separate from your corporate Android experience—kind of like preventing your worlds from colliding. For example, the photos you take, your personal email accounts and personal text messages remain on one Android OS while your work email, work IMs and work apps remain on the other. Even if “corporate IT” needs to remotely wipe your handset, it can be done without any of your personal information and apps being affected. 

Kanex Slimport

Slimport, currently in devices such as the Nexus 4, turns your USB port into an HDMI, VGA or DisplayPort output. (These devices are limited to outputting video at 1920x1080 high definition.)

That’s sweet. But even sweeter was the Slimport we demoed—a tiny port that is implanted inside the phone (from the outside it looks like a micro-USB port). This latest Slimport features a Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and puts out Ultra HD video (3840x2160).

Morpho

You may have heard talk recently about “heterogeneous computing,” which basically means processing computing tasks on cores other than the CPU.  Heterogeneous computing offers many advantages, including freeing up the CPU for other tasks, reducing power, and boosting performance. Morpho showed off new software (hang on, it’s closely related to hardware) that enhances the camera experience by doing image processing on the Hexagon DSP inside the Snapdragon processor. What’s the big deal? A DSP, or digital signal processor, is a specialized microprocessor that typically converts analog-to-digital or vice versa (e.g., converting MP3 file to sound, or capturing light to a digital JPG file).

With Morpho software, a mobile device can do Full HD video capture on the DSP to conserve CPU power, or use the CPU to enhance the video with digital image stabilization. That’s smart resource allocation.

Kionix

Ever see a digital accelerometer before? Well now you have. They don’t look too exciting, but these little guys can sense acceleration in three directions (the X, Y and Z axis.)  This is how your smartphone can run apps that simulate a compass and pedometer… or how some computers sense when they’ve been dropped and instantly turn off the hard drive… or how automobiles know when to deploy airbags in high-speed and not low-speed collisions. Totally amazing stuff from a very small package and Kionix’s latest model is smaller and uses less power, meaning smaller mobile devices and longer battery life.

That’s all from Hardware Day at Uplinq 2013. More recaps to come, including the keynote from the company’s Chairman and CEO, Dr. Paul Jacobs.

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