Thursday, June 28, 2007

The evolution of Personal Navigation Devices

I have just read an interesting post at the Register on soe recent announcements for GPS in the UK.

This comes close to me completing a challenge question on the Techdirt Insight Community on the future of personal navigation devices.

I do believe that, with the number of mobile handsets now sporting GPS and a handful of Bluetooth GPS device available that you can connect to your mobile, GPS and Location Based Services are ready for large scale adoption.

You can read my insights from here:
PNDs for Pedestrians
PNDs for Vehicles

Telmap has an interesting spin on the collaborative and community aspects that I mentioned. And it will be interesting to see how the Vodafone & TomTom deal evolves.

If you are a Jeteye user you can also access my Jetpak.

UMA lowdown

UMA, the technology that allows WiFi and GSM convergence should be a natural evolution for carriers. The infrastructure costs are less than GSM and if you read my post on how carriers could use the volume of home WiFi hotspots to build out their network, FVNO, then it should be compelling.

Katie at GigaOm had written a good lowdown for those who want to be in the know on UMA [not Thurman]

Monday, June 25, 2007

The sweet side of biofuel

Here in Thailand the Government have been pushing gasahol pretty hard. Gasahol is blended petrol and ethanol.

The trouble is that Thailand loves the Honda Civic and it's VTEC engine, apparently VTEC doesn't like ethanol very much, however I wonder if it would like something a bit sweeter.

Researchers at University of Wisconsin are two years away from producing biofuel from natural sugars (Fructose). The upside is that a sugar based biofuel is 40% more dense than corn based ethanol and this means more fuel once fractionated. Initial studies have shown that a sugar based fuel cell could power an engine.

Read the article on iTWire

The other option here is biodiesel, which uses palm oil and is one of the projects of HM King Bhumipol. Australia opened a palm oil based biodiesel plant last year and is set to produce 140 Million litres per year.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Films come to life... almost: Laser Fusion Power

In an article that reminds me of the file Chain Reaction a team of scientists are looking at the possibility of creating energy from fusion using lasers and sea water.

The technology is theoretical at the moment and faces some challenges in laser development, more powerful and faster cyclical rates.

There is a very good write up on the process on the BBC Technology mini site

Drive 2.0 revisited

Less than one year ago I posted this article on how flash memory could evolve and replace traditional drives with moving parts.

Well Fujitsu are following this path by using Samsung produced SSD in their Lifebook Q and B laptops.

And the trend is set to continue with Intel now producing a flash memory drive that is set to replace magnetic hard disk drives.

This is good news for battery life. The reason why an iPod can have good play times is that the solid state drive doesn't have to use energy to spin for reading. Putting SSD technology in laptops will extend the life of the battery for mobile use and allow us to break away from offices for longer. It might that people traveling in business class can actually conduct some business as the battery should now last longer than 2 hours :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Films come to life... almost: Power from Leftovers

In a development that reminds me on the face of it of that clip in Back to the Future when they raid the dustbins to fuel Mr Fusion.... the latest development on alternative energy is using your leftover food to generate methane and hydrogen.

In the 90's there was a fad about wormeries. The basic concept is put your food rubbish (highly selective) into a bin with [tiger] worms in and get a form of liquid fertilizer tapped of from the bottom.

The fuel process is similar in the food rubbish is dumped into vat-like generators. Microbes break down the rubbish and in the process the resulting gas, typically methane and hydrogen, can be tapped of from the top and used in specialized vehicles.

For more see the Technology Review.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Power 2.0: Solar Collector

In an innovation that could cut the cost of solar energy technology in half. Soliant Energy now provide a solar concentrator.

One of the application problems of solar panels has been how to get the maximum efficiency out of the installation. One solution has been to mount the panels on a pole that allow sun tracking.

The system from Soliant bypasses this need, which makes the panels subjected to wind conditions, by using traditional roof panels with individual panes that can track. The panes reflect the light to a row of photovoltaic cells.

Read more from Technology Review.

Solar Store-y

This is the first of a series of new posts on how the electricity we use and the we use it is up for disruption, loosely termed Power 2.0 to stay in the trend of the 2.0 boom.

For some time I have been looking to build a house here in Thailand and I am very keen to generate as much of our own power needs as possible. The emergence of alternative energy in Thailand is not very strong as today power is quite cheap. Thailand is blessed with an average of 12 hours of sunlight year round, yet the country still heavily relies on oil for electricity production.
There are quite a few hydro electric dams in the country, mostly place by the King.

One energy source, the Sun, is up for some changes as EGAT (Electrivity Generating Authority of Thailand) now agree to buy back any surplus energy. This change in the economics means that you could now recover the costs within 10 years opposed to the potential 20 to 30 years before. You can tell then that solar today is cost prohibitive.

One of the key challenges of solar is how to effectively store the energy. Batteries are improving and one of the best uses for solar energy is hot water or pumped water so you can use a gravity fed water supply over the more common pumped supply.

MIT, via the Technology Review, are working on a system that use photosynthesis. The basic process is to use algae and encourage them to grow with sunlight. You can then use this to release hydrogen. Some years away from a practical application but worth keeping an eye open.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What's the story - Product Portfolio Management

There's a new beat on the street, the use and benefits of Product Portfolio Management.

The current leader is Tribold.

The intention is to get products to market faster, this is targeted at Telecom companies with a known time to market problem. The idea centralize the product management function that has a single view and representation of a product. This can then be shared with CRM, OSS and BSS systems.

With powerful reporting that can show take up of the offering and the unified product master when CRM, OSS and BSS will be in synch this should be a great boost for offering promotion to market. It's also not limited to telecom as this is a problem that many enterprises face today with disparate applications using the data (CRM, Self Care, Financials, Manufacturing, Distribution).

The great enabler for me is that will allow MVNO's to communicate their product vision to OSS and BSS provider of choice. The trend will be for pick best of breed billers for market segments, for example converged solution at the youth or business market and a less capable (and therefore less expensive) solution at pure voice users. Having a single view of a product means that IMS provisioning will be more simplified. With any product any screen provisioning attributes will vary by subsystem. A PPM solution will allow for that.

The benefits to operators is also making the migration to or between vendors easier. With a central repository for products it you wanted to switch from Siebel to SugarCRM this doesn't mean a mass migration of the whole product catalog, a new interface to pass the existing representation from PPM to CRM should make the process faster and more efficient.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cellphone PC's the new batch

There has been many attempts to make PC's as small as possible or to equip cell phones with as many PC features as possible.

The realization that as wireless broadband gets more prolific and todays workforce is more mobile than ever before the need to have small, capable PC's is very real.

Palm aired their approach, the Foleo at D: last week. Touted as a Cell Phone Companion it has many of the features required by a PC and uses the phone to create the connection.

Now Taiwan is pushing it's pledge for the space. For a long time Taiwan cell phone manufacturers have understood the need for cell phones to have a full keyboard, Dopod and HTC both have handsets with slide out keyboards. Now they are looking at full PC features in small units.

Via Technologies are launching the Nanobook. A small but powerful PC that at less than 1 Kilogram is looking for convenient portability.

Asus are launching the PC 701 or Eee. At 2 pounds, WiFi and solid state storage this mini PC should be well priced. Price has always been the problem for uptake in the past with most of the devices that have tried to drive this space.

Of course if you believe the adverts from Nokia then the new form that the PC has already taken is the N95. Nokia is trying to shape the Mobile Internet Device (MID) space with eraly entries of the 770 internet tablet and it's new brother the N800. I think I will wait a bit longer and see how the technology evolves to see where the feature alignment heads, more towards voice and PC convergence or compromising some features for size. For me the latter would be best as there is already a lot of confusion with many of the current smart phones that promise the world but compromise on the quality of the core function, voice.

PC over IP - The Teradici Effect

Teradici are hoping to blur the lines between PC and Data Centre.

Their solution allows a use to view multiple screens and control the blade PC over IP. This is kind of like the dumb terminals with a new edgy deployment.

The intention is that all of the computing power is performed offsite in a centralized area, the Data Centre, and this will save on power and maintenance costs as the engineers are co-located with the hardware and therefore don't have to go out to the client site for basic maintenance.

The Teradici Company
Article found in the Wall Street Journal

Sunday, June 03, 2007

How will Telco's need to adapt in the Web 2.0 world

The internet is adapting faster than ever before. Web 2.0 is seeing innovation at an increasing rate and social networking platforms, mashups, online collaboration and Software as a Service (SaaS) is showing what can be achieved and still have customer service as a core value.

Telco's are renowned for over engineering seeking the elusive 5 9's (99.999%) when in reality less is more. Skype can suffer lower voice quality but generally the quality is more than adequate for the average user. Compare this to mobile call quality from a network centric operator and where the results can be shocking.

The Web 2.0 is driving customers into new levels of collaboration and the Generation Me subscriber expects more from their services. Increasingly the need to immediate response and low cost means that the Telco's have a real challenge, despite the impact [or not] of Skype, Jajah, Gizmo and Vonage, the reality is that the Telco style of service is not good enough for the average Joe Punter.

The wish of IMS and it's any content any screen with it's foundation of SIP based connectivity may not be fast enough for tomorrows consumers. Maybe the cold hard truth is that Telco's need to get out of service creation and marketing and concentrate on their core competency, operating networks.

In an insight for Techdirt I concluded that Telco's need to facilitate the network operation and open up for more MVNO's and companies that know how to bundle content. This is likely to come from cable and media companies who are used to dealing with a fickle customer base and therefore have to interact more closely with them.

In another insight for Techdirt on the disruption that is now seen in TV and Video new business models, more aligned to Web 2.0 and consumer driven content production, was my conclusion for that industry.

Today's Telco's need to understand what mass collaboration can do and how brands are now being created, and broken, on the internet. To succeed the Telco will need to collaborate closely with the end user and content providers to create more depth and width of services that supply the needs of Generation Me subscribers. This means learning how to be more open and use Web 2.0 platforms to change the dynamics of the transaction.

Download the insight "Adapt a Telco to Survive"
Download the insight "Video 2.0"
Read the article on Light Reading "Why Telco's need Web 2.0"

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blockbuster to start download service

Almost one year ago I wrote up an idea on how distributors, like Blockbuster, could stay in touch with the speed of innovation that technology and internet usage is experiencing.

This was an idea about how Blockbuster could use WiMax as a distribution platform.

Yesterday Lionsgate announced that Blockbuster are due to start a download service similar to the recent announcement that iTunes will start a movies download service.

The timing comes just after a wrote an insight for Techdirt on how TV is up for disruption in the light of TV and film distribution that is being driven by web TV services like Kyte and Joost.

You can download the insight from here.