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EETE MAR 2014

Google prototypes depth-sensing mobile phone By Peter Clarke OmniVision, Movidius and Paracosm could benefit if Google can hone its just announced prototype depth-sensing mobile phone. Google has announced that is has developed a prototype Android 5-inch mobile phone that includes a depth sensor alongside a motion-tracking image sensor. Fig. 1: The 5-inch mobile phone prototype with custom hardware and software designed to track the unit’s 3D motion and map its surroundings. Source: Google Fig. 2: Modest image sensor but separate motion tracking and depth sensing. Source: Google Fig. 3: Google camera being used to map the environment. Source: Google. The phone is the result of a one-year R&D initiative called Project Tango, and according to material at the Google website this 3D-tracking phone could provide a solution to location mapping and tracking as well as being a platform for new types of games and for robotics applications. The company says it will hand out part of an initial build of 200 prototypes of the phone to software developers for them to develop applications on. “We want partners who will push the technology forward and build great user experiences on top of this platform,” said Google on its website. The current prototype is a 5-inch mobile phone with custom hardware and software designed to track the 3D motion of the device while creating a 3D map of the environment using its image and depth sensors to make more than more than a quarter million 3D measurements per second. The Android phone includes development APIs to provide position, orientation, and depth data to standard Android applications written in Java, C/C++, as well as the Unity Game Engine. However, these early prototypes, algorithms, and APIs are still in active development. Remi El-Ouazzane CEO of Movidius, commented: “Project Tango is truly a groundbreaking platform, and we look forward to seeing the innovation the developer community achieves with unprecedented access to the Movidius Vision Processor.” Google did not provide any information on how much power is consumed by the tracking and 3D-mapping function. It is likely that this is considerable and that not only will application specific processors such as Myriad-1, be required to minimize the energy consumption, but that improvements may be required before it could be deployed in a commercial phone. Google did not indicate how soon a depthsensing phone might be released. Although Google does not indicate who has provided the depth sensor it is notable that only image sensor vendor in the Project Tango partnership is OmniVision Technologies Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) Other notable partners include: inertial MEMS sensor provider Bosch; Movidius Ltd. (Dublin, Ireland) the vendor of the Myriad 1 vision processor and Paracosm (Gainsville, Florida), which offers software that converts 3D scans into computer models. “Our goal is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion,” said Johnny Chung Lee, project leader from Project Tango at Advanced Technology & Projects at Google. IBM sets data transfer record in multimode optical fiber By Jean-Pierre Joosting By sending data at a rate of 64 Gb/s over a cable 57 meters long using a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL), researchers at IBM achieved a rate that was around 14 percent faster than the previous record and about 2.5 times faster than the capabilities of typical commercial technology. To send the data, the researchers used standard non-return-to-zero (NRZ) modulation. “Others have thought that this modulation wouldn’t allow for transfer rates much In the foreground are two Chalmers VCSELs. The one on the left has a 6 μm aperture and could operate error free up to 62Gb/s. faster than 32 Gb/s,” said researcher Dan Kuchta of the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York. Many researchers thought that achieving higher transmission rates would require turning to more complex types of modulation, such as pulse-amplitude modulation-4 (PAM-4). “What we’re showing is that that’s not the case at all,” Kuchta said. Because he and his colleagues achieved fast speeds even with NRZ modulation, he added, “this technology has at least one or two more generations of product life in it.” Following this achievement it is expected that standard, existing technology for sending data over short distances should be able to meet the growing needs of servers, data centers and supercomputers through the end of this decade. 12 Electronic Engineering Times Europe March 2014 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE MAR 2014
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