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5 things to expect at Mobile World Congress

Posted: 27 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mobile World Congress? M2M? IoT? 5G? LTE?

Always-on smartphones

The big pre-MWC news over the last few weeks is the much-touted curved display on Samsung's next smartphone Galaxy S6. Scheduled for unveiling the night before the MWC, it has also triggered speculation about which U.S. carriers will launch it.

As Apple and Samsung are the two giants occupying much of the global smartphone market, their next flagship phones mean everything to the rest of the industry.

Many handset vendors expected to launch new smartphones at the MWC are holding their specs close to the vest. However, the biggest trend among smartphones emerging in 2015 and 2016 is shaping up to be the "always-on" handset, with "context awareness as the key," according to PNI Sensor's George Hsu.

If it took four steps to do certain things on your smartphone, the new context-aware smartphone will let you do it in one, he explained.

Samsung Gear VR

Samsung Gear VR

A sensor hub, whether implemented as a part of applications processor or a stand-alone chip, will play a key role in the always-on smartphones. It will also prove effective in accurate indoor navigation, when data coming from Wi-Fi hotspots, cellular and pedestrian dead reckoning (PDR) using MEMS motion sensors in mobile devices are fused, offering a hybrid approach, Hsu explained.

VR coming to smartphone platform

Hsu, however, took the role of sensor hub a few steps further, by predicting that virtual reality on smartphones will be the hot smartphone feature in the next few years. VR games are poised to come to smartphone platforms. It's a natural progression. Game developers have already begun using Oculus VR platform for new games.

While Samsung has already taken a lead with Samsung Gear VR using Galaxy Note 4 as its screen and engine, others will follow, he said. The VR trend is destined to change technology requirements for displays, graphic rendering engine and sensor hubs used for head tracking.

First, "you need higher resolution displays such as OLED," said Hsu. When an optic of Oculus gets too close to display, it has a magnifying effect thus making pixels on LCD visible. Further, LCD isn't fast enough to redraw a screen, he added.

A graphics rendering enginea part of apps processor in a smartphonealso needs to be able to render graphics fast enough to keep up with VR.

Most important of all, though, is that because VR requires a user to wear headgear, head-tracking technology becomes critical for users' VR experience. Sensor data used for measuring head movements needs to be updated very quickly. The whole process from head-tracking to graphics processor rendering graphics, to the right graphics being rendered on a display, has to happen in less than 2milliseconds for VR to look acceptable, said Hsu. Not every sensor hub is capable of doing this, but Hsu said that PNI Sensor's SENtral motion coprocessor is up to speed.

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