Wireless Charging Sector Frustratingly Fractious

IT Business Edge
Date: May 17, 2013
By Carl Weinschenk

The northeast has entered that two- or three-week period of beautiful weather, upon which we will look back in nostalgia in just a few weeks. In any case, it’s great to enjoy. And it’s Friday, time for a wrap-up of important news and commentary from the past week.

Three Approaches to Wireless Charging

One of the things that we’re most likely to look back on years from now and chuckle about is the need to tote around cables and cords to recharge mobile devices. It’s annoying and an environmental nightmare.

There are two basic ways to approach the issue. One is a half-measure in which cables still exist but are standardized. In this way, one cord can serve more than one device, and can be used on the person’s next phone.

The other approach is even more enticing: Charge devices wirelessly and do away with the cords altogether. The challenge, according to All Things D, is that three groups are vying to be the big power in the device powering world, so to speak. The site reported that a company it characterizes as influential but low-profile, PowerbyProxi, is joining the Wireless Power Consortium, one of those groups.

The press release from the company and the consortium was released on Monday. The Wireless Power Consortium apparently missed the Marketing 101 class in which it is suggested that naming the product something that nobody has a clue about how to pronounce is a bad idea. For the record, Qi is pronounced “chee.”

IDC: Android, iOS Ship More than 90 Percent of Smartphones

IDC reported this week that Android and iOS accounted for 92.3 percent of all smartphone shipments during the first quarter of 2013. It may or may not be big news, but Microsoft’s Window Phone passed BlackBerry for third place. The reason it may not be that big a deal is that they are fighting for scraps: The two bigger players accounted for 92.3 percent of shipments, after all.

The release has the highlights for the four, as well as those for Linux and Symbian. BlackBerry did get some good news with assessments that the BlackBerry10 may be helping it regain ground in Canada from where, of course, the device hails.

Desperately Seeking Wi-Fi

There are a few ways to head off the impending bandwidth crunch that experts never tire of warning the rest of us about: Adding bandwidth, more efficiently managing the overall supply, and embedding more bits into the bandwidth itself.

Devicescape’s Personal Curator tackles the second issue. Wi-Fi is more flexible and plentiful than more expensive cellular bandwidth. Thus, operators can save money, improve end customer services and more efficiently manage bandwidth by mediating between the two. Personal Curator, according to a piece at GigaOm, detects Wi-Fi availability and prompts people to switch to that platform. The rationale is well stated in the piece:

Devicescape claims that as many as 30 percent of smartphones never connect to an available home Wi-Fi network, which would mean an enormous quantity of traffic that could easily be shunted onto a cheap broadband connection is instead heading toward the cell towers. That number seems high, but it’s not entirely out of the question. I’ve configured the Wi-Fi settings of many a friend or relative who never bothered to do it themselves.

Google Glass Developers Look to the Future

The road to the world of Google Glass is full speed ahead. Several stories, including this one at The Financial Post, looked at some of the development efforts. Google Glass apparently was a hot topic at Google I/O, the company’s developers conference that was held this week in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that eight members of Congress sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page focusing on the security and personal information concerns of Google Glass.

Smarter Computers

And, finally, quantum science was in the news this week. ExtremeTech reported that researchers in China have “constructed the first memory device that uses single photons to store quantum data.” The bottom line of this complicated story is that this is a big step that eventually could greatly enhance networking capabilities.

A backgrounder on quantum computers, which is a closer goal than that suggested by the research described in the ExtremeTech story, serendipitously was posted yesterday by The Economist.

Google, meanwhile, has created the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, which will be hosted at NASA’s Ames Research Center. CNET reports that it will house a quantum computer made by D-Wave Systems and operated by the Universities Space Research Association. The goal, according to a Google blog post quoted by CNET, is to explore quantum computing’s ability to advance machine learning.

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