VW Bik.e – Electric bicycle instead of a spare tire?

May 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Gaming, Hot Devices, News

Think of it as the spare tire in your new VW. Yet, you can’t ride your spare tire in case your car runs down. This is when you can pull out the Bik.e and get on your “green” way…

Volkswagen has introduced the Bik.e at Auto China 2010. This is a great and very cool looking device. Looks like a small bike without pedals. It’s nifty design allows it to fold down into a flat disc which fits perfectly into the spare compartment in the bottom of most trunks.

Even though it most likely will not come standard with your new VW commercial plans have been revealed.

The Bik.e is not meant for long distances and rather as a supplement to your car. It’s top speed officially is 20 km/h (12.5 miles per hour) though spectators say the version at the show was going much faster.

The Bik.e could use the car’s DC current or regular AC.

Wireless carriers open the network to embedded devices

Where’s the next big evolution in wireless?  The tier 1 operators think there’s tremendous growth opportunity in embedding wireless connectivity into all types of devices and appliances.

With penetration rates hitting 85 percent and above in the U.S., wireless carriers are quickly realizing that the next big growth opportunity lies in not just connecting people to their networks, but in connecting devices.  And those devices aren’t just the typical wireless handsets but all types of consumer electronics goods and appliances. Basically, any type of device-digital camera, personal music player or navigation device-can be outfitted with wireless.

This is the reason Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility have formed targeted open development business units and it’s why Sprint Nextel’s Xohm Business Unit is encouraging big vendors such as Intel and Nokia to “self-certify” their WiMAX gear to speed device time to market.

PCMCIA cards that connect the carrier’s network to the laptop are a good first step but the only way carriers will reap the rewards of their 3G/4G network investment is to give the consumer an embedded device.

“Whatever device it gets embedded in is OK with me, as long as I have the ability to place it on my network,” said Tony Lewis, vide president of Open Development for Verizon Wireless.

That’s an almost radical position for Verizon Wireless which, most everyone would agree, has a reputation of being something of a control freak when it comes to its network.

“This was met with some skepticism early on but I think folks have come to find out how serious we are and how significant this is and, more importantly, how quick and easy it is to get onto the Verizon Wireless network now,” Lewis said.

Sprint Nextel’s Xohm Business Unit comes from the opposite extreme. Within a couple weeks of its WiMAX launch in Baltimore, Xohm could point to a dozen laptops with embedded WiMAX capability available in retail and 20 more in the pipeline being certified. In the next three to five years, Xohm expects to see “smaller devices really starting to take off in terms of volume. These devices will be digital cameras, video cameras … music devices, e-books. From sheer volume they’re going to be very big,” said Bin Shen, vice president of product management and partnership development at Sprint’s Xohm Business Unit.

Embedding rather than having external USB or card-based technology is important because embedded devices “go through the more conventional consumer electronics device channels,” Shen said. “We all agree in order to drive the wireless broadband and the data adoption you really have to go through an embedded device model.”

AT&T’s 3G product focus is on embedded connectivity with such devices as Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) and Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) that look like small Internet-specific computers.

“When you get to ease-of-use, a plug-and-play for the customer, embedded is going to be the future, especially as you go into some of these other (non-laptop) devices,” said Glenn Lurie, president of emerging devices at AT&T. “I believe embedded is the only way to go.”

All the carriers talk about being open, but vendors must go through a screening process to get on their networks. Devices must work within a proprietary scheme, at least with Verizon Wireless and AT&T, and must be certified by all the carriers. Sprint’s WiMAX is an IP-based technology that’s available around the world but devices still need an OK to be on Xohm.

The big difference is how the networks will handle the devices, said Shen, pointing out that data is an add-on for voice-centric 3G and “WiMAX is designed for a really high-speed broadband network.”

However, WiMAX has its limits when it comes to footprint. Sprint’s Xohm Business Unit is expected to merge with Clearwire to form the “new” Clearwire with a $3.2 billion investment from Google, Comcast, Intel and others. That merger is expected to close by year-end and while the “new” Clearwire is promising nationwide ubiquity, AT&T and Verizon Wireless are everywhere now.

“Pretty much everybody has a handset… so where’s the next big momentum in this industry? It’s in the connected devices. An embedded module is a radio chip that would be placed in that device,” Lewis said. “It could be as extreme as your refrigerator or toaster; it could be as useful as medical devices; as fun as gaming devices; attaching things not just to your car but to your parking space, your front door, your medicine cabinet.”

As long as there’s a Verizon connection, Verizon’s open to partnering with any number of device manufacturers and is willing to simplify its certification process. In the end, though, it becomes a Verizon Wireless product built by an outside vendor.

“I want to qualify it for my network. I want to have the ability to have as many devices as possible working on this network. If a manufacturer chooses to go to another network that’s certainly their option to do that,” Lewis said. “This is giving consumers their choice on which network they want to operate this device.”

Perhaps the best example to date of a wildly successful embedded device is the Apple iPhone which really is not open at all.

“We’re having very nice success with the iPhone (and) the only way we got there was because I knew that when Apple walked into my office they weren’t walking into Verizon’s tomorrow. We could really open up and give them all of our details and work on new things and build new capabilities,” Lurie said.

While admitting that the new era of open embedded devices will go both ways–exclusive and non-exclusive–Lurie believes that the relationship with the carrier, not the technology, will drive the market.

“Many of these consumer electronics players have never done mobility before… so they’re looking at their core partner to help them build mobility, build a distribution model, build the device. Those are the things they’re going to want to do with a partner to start and possibly down the road that will change,” he said.

What won’t change is the carriers’ focus on the embedded device as Velcro to bind consumers to their networks and grow revenues beyond voice.

“This is the natural evolution of utilizing one of the greatest assets we have, the network, (and) more importantly giving our consumers even more choices than they have today,” said Lewis. “There are lots of opportunities for folks out there to do some innovative things if they know they have an open network.”

Gameloft Wins iLounge’s “Game Developer of the Year” and “Game of the Year” Awards for iPod/iPhone Development

November 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Gaming, Mobile Phones, News

NEW YORK, October 31, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ — Gameloft, a leading developer and publisher of video games on mobile phones and consoles, was selected today by the editors and readers of iLounge as the “iPod and iPhone Game Developer of the Year” for its outstanding contributions to iPod and iPhone gaming. Editors also chose Gameloft’s Platinum Sudoku as the “Game of the Year” for iPhone and iPod Touch.
“We are proud to receive this honored distinction,” explains Michel Guillemot, president, Gameloft. “The iPhone has been a revolutionary device in the mobile gaming industry allowing us to truly maximize our production qualities and deliver a stellar gaming experience to audiences worldwide. This competitive award reaffirms our dedicated efforts in creating fun and entertaining titles that leverage the iPhone’s unique capabilities.”
“Gameloft’s awards this year are notable in that they came from both our editors and readers,” said Jeremy Horwitz, Editor-in-Chief, iLounge. “Everyone agreed that this was an outstanding year for Gameloft, which transformed itself from an impressive developer of Click Wheel iPod games into a powerhouse for iPhone development. We cannot wait to see what it has in store for 2009.”
Celebrating its fifth anniversary, iLounge’s 2009 iPod + iPhone Buyers’ Guide annually recognizes the world’s best iPod and iPhone hardware, accessories, and software in an extensive, consumer-focused publication. Other games featured in the buyer’s guide ‘100 Best iPhone and iPod Touch Apps and Games’ include Brain Challenge, Asphalt 4: Elite Racing and Real Soccer 2009.
This is the inaugural year for Reader’s Choice Awards, in which thousands of users cast their votes online. Winners were announced in the Buyers’ Guide on October 31, 2008.