image Sony announced the second iteration of its SmartWatch with better specifications on many aspects. The Sony SmartWatch 2 now can run as stand alone wearable device as well as taping into user Android smartphone to harvest more usability.

The boxy body aluminum features a 220 x 176 1.6” screen designed for better outdoor display; water resistant supporting standard wristband. 

With NFC built-in support, user can pair the watch with Android smartphone just by tapping both devices together. The watch will then can handle many more tasks of the phone straight from your wrist. Tasks include email, call handling, remotely take a photo presentation control using an built-in app ..

The Sony SmartWatch 2 runs Android OS, which offers hundreds of apps pre-installed and recommended  along with face personalization to seamlessly suit your needs, whether you are on the go, keeping active, at home, relaxing to music, at work or even by the pool. The watch UI design should be familiar to Android smartphone users with the home, back, and menu capacitive keys on its face. The watch comes with standard microUSB port for charging and a battery that will last up to 3 days.


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Nokia announced the first Bluetooth stereo headset with NFC (Near Field Communication) support. NFC is a short range highly secured communication, it has little implication here beside the ease of pairing just by tapping the device. And thankfully the headset is compatible with regular Bluetooth equipped devices.

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The form factor used by Nokia has been seen previously and it did not have much success in popularity. The headset looks like a clip-on iPod Shuffle with wired ear buds.  But Nokia adds a twist to it with noise cancellation capability that the Finnish company claims it can eliminate up to 99.8% of pesky background noise, thanks to some clever active noise cancellation technology. And the headset support A2DP (stereo audio) in addition to normal phone calling audio.

Bluetooth Stereo headset remains my favorite accessory for tablet use.

[Source Nokia]

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PayPal, the popular online banking company owned by eBay is known for all payment transactions just by using your email address. The company is creating an entirely new way for people to shop and pay for personal face-to-face payment.

The company announced a peer-to-peer or person-to-person NFC solution that lets people pay and get paid in a matter of seconds by simply tapping together two Samsung Nexus S phones (or any phone that support Near Field Communication NFC). This feature will be out in the market late this summer. The video below shows how it works.

With a simple “buzz” you’ll be able to transact with friends, family, colleagues and employees easier than ever before. Sometimes the most obvious solutions are the most elegant.

NFC is still is the race for wider adoption. Currently only a limited number of smartphones supporting the technology but we hope more phones will jump on board by year end.

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image As NFC technology (near-field communication) is about to emerge to local commerce payment landscape using a smartphone equipped with a specialized chip. A new start-up  Naratte already offers lower cost alternative just by using the existing sound system on phone to communicate.

Any phones that have  a microphone and speaker can use  Zoosh software to exchange information. Similarly between phone and a Zoosh capable point-of-sale can exchange commerce transaction. The technology uses frequency inaudible sound signals between devices.

"It’s going to be years and years and years before NFC is fully deployed for the average purchase transaction," said Russ Jones, a partner at Glenbrook Partners, a payments strategy consulting firm. Zoosh could be a third alternative for mobile payments, in addition to NFC and digital barcodes displayed on phone displays, he said. In the hands of mobile developers, its possibilities may extend far beyond payments, Jones said.

[Via ComputerWorld]

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Google was the first major company to push NFC (Near Field Communication) in to the mainstream. NFC is the technology that allows contact-less payment using a smartphone device to replace the plastic credit card. NFC has been widely adopted in Asia.

imageThis morning the Wall Street Journal reported that the giant search company is teaming up with major financial institutions: MasterCard, VeriFone Systems and Citigroup  to pursue the push for adoption of NFC to daily retail transactions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Smartphone equipped with this mode payment yields convenience to users, since it can replace their wallet. The smartphone is more capable than a plastic credit card to provide additional security (e.g. Biometric scanning can be added to ensure identity of the user), Financial institutions and Google can also collect a wealth of data in real-time including location for various purposes. Local business advertisement is one of the benefits, The planned payment system would allow Google to offer retailers more data about their customers and help them target ads and discount offers to mobile-device users near their stores.

NFC requires  a special hardware chip install on the smartphone device. Google Nexus S, the company Android phone has such chip built-in. RIM Blackberry is also conducting some field experiments  with a new battery door with embedded NFC chip. Apple next iPhone is also rumored to have this technology built-in. Retailers are asked to install a new NFC capable reader for their point-of sale.

As always, the adoption of NFC creates a new ecosystem that might rock the current systems. Wireless carriers might be wondering if they can ride along with the new technology or this will bypass their potential business revenues.

[Via WSJ]

As we mentioned several times on SolSie.com, Near Field Communication or NFC will make big way to our lives this year. NFC allows secured mobile payments (among other things) using your smartphone and with few taps.

imageThe mobile blog BGR just scored few screenshots indicating Bank of America will soon launch a trial program dubbed as “Mobile Wallet Payment” to its customers equipped with a Blackberry smartphone (eligible models: 8520, 8530, 9630, 9000, 9650 and 9700).

As you know, NFC requires a built-in chip in the mobile device as well as the other end such cashier. RIM Blackberry could get away with existing devices by changing the battery cover with a special one that includes the required electronic and a microSD card.

Google already built the NFC chip in the company latest smartphone Nexus S and Apple is rumored to have this technology in its next iPhone.

The trial will start this Spring and will last for few months.

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image We posted an article speculating how NFC (Near Field Communication) would be the mobile technology of 2011. The NFC, integrated to your mobile phone, will provide a short distance bi-communication (read/write) communication between two device while insuring a better authentication. NFC can be used for casual exchanges such photo, address, business card, advertisement message..as well as exchanges requiring authentication such hotel key, credit card payments, etc.. NFC can replace many functions until now require entering user ID/ password..

The technology is great and promising but many are skeptical about giving too much power to a small easy-to-lose device. It’s evident that NFC can only take off with if users embrace and fell completely safe using it or losing it.

Today ComputerWorld’s Mike Elgan adds another complementary technology Bio-Metric, which has been used for personal identification using a range of recognition using voice, retinal, fingerprint scanning technologies.

Developments and uses have increased with demand to match concerns over international, business and personal security.

Biometrics is more personal than a passport photo or Pin, using traits such as fingerprints, face or eye "maps" as key identifying features.

With Bio-metric, the device will not activate without being able to identify its legitimate owner.   The combination of these two technologies, all of a sudden changed the perception and added tremendous credibility.

Both Apple and Google are actively working on both technologies, according to Mike Elgan, to roll in their upcoming mobile devices. The technology will enhance both companies in the domain of media, app purchasing or advertisement .

[Via ComputerWorld]

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image Near Field Communication (NFC) technology that allows authentication and encrypted information exchanges between two enable devices at short distance. NFC has started tricking in to Android devices since Android 2.3 Gingerbread and the whole Blackberry line-up. There were words about Apple is also hiring NFC engineers for the net iPhone.

Last December, Google showcased the “pure Android” Nexus S  interacts with Google Places NFC enabled sticker just by touching the phone to launch Google Places app.. Today few more third party apps have made their debut in Android Market.

The first is Taglet, a Japanese language NFC tag reader that can read tag  that is placed in the back of the phone to associate related online information.

 

Next app is EnableTable, an US-developed app that lets restaurants issue discount coupons to loyal customers to entice their next visits.

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[Via NearFiledComminicationsWorld]

image NFC or Near Field Communication is a new wireless short distance communication technology that has emerged to the mobile space.

Unlike Bluetooth or Wifi that are designed to transmit and receive large amount of data after few basic hand-shaking protocols, NFC will only be used to authenticate using highly encrypted information to initiate the transaction.

NFC chip powers mobile devices similar to cellphone that can receive encrypted information wirelessly (Credit card, key, boarding pass, car rental agreement, etc..). When the phone approaches another NFC enabled devices such door lock, car, ATM,.. it can authenticate with information it received previously and eventually initiate the appropriate transaction.

The videos below showing trials conducted  by ASSA ABLOY to use NFC for hotel checking.

Mobile Hotel Key

Mobile Key Animation

Further more, the blog CulofMac has reported that Apple could use this technology in its next iPhone  as the company aggressively seeking talents in the area as well as consideration to acquire  Vivotech, a company that specializes in contactless payment and Near Field Communications technology.

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Today, Samsung unveiled the new generation of its flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S5. The new Android-based smartphone featuring a slightly larger 1080p HD AMOLED display 5.1”; finger scanning and a heart rate reader .

SM-G900F_charcoal BLACK_01 (1)

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Contrary to the rumors, the newly announced device is reminiscing the old feel of the previous model S4 as the company states “designed for what matters most to consumers. The new Galaxy S5 offers consumers a refined experience with innovation of essential features for day-to-day use. ”, in other words: no drastic change.

The most notable features include a finger scanner providing a secure, biometric screen locking mechanism, located on the home button; an optical heart rate reader integrated to the camera LED Flash; An ultra power saving mode turns the display to black and white, and shuts down all unnecessary features to minimize the battery consumption. Galaxy S5 waterproof and dust-proof in compliance with standard specification IP67, meaning it can submerge up to 30 minutes at about 1 meter deep.

The camera offers superior camera functionality, featuring a 16 megapixel camera with an enhanced menu and user interface that allow consumers to effortlessly take, edit and share photos. A faster auto-focus in less than 0.3 seconds; an advanced High Dynamic Range (HDR) allowing production of better intensity contrast. A new selective focus feature allows users to focus on a specific area of an object while simultaneously blurring out the background. With this capability, consumers no longer need a special lens kit to create a shallow depth of field (DOF) effect.

The S5 will be available in April worldwide

Samsung Galaxy S5 Product Specifications:

Network

LTE Cat.4 (150/50Mbps)

Display 

5.1” FHD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080)

AP

2.5GHz Quad core application processor

OS 

Android 4.4.2 (Kitkat)

Camera

16MP (rear), 2.0MP (front)

Video

UHD@30fps, HDR, video stabilization

Video Codec : H.263, H.264(AVC), MPEG4, VC-1, Sorenson Spark, MP43, WMV7, WMV8, VP8

Video Format: MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM

Audio

Audio Codec : MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/ AAC+/ eAAC+, WMA, Vorbis, FLAC

Audio Format: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA

Camera

Features

HDR (Rich tone), Selective Focus, Virtual Tour Shot, Shot&More

Additional

Features

IP67 Dust and water Resistant

Ultra Power Saving Mode

Download Booster

S Health 3.0

Quick Connect

Private Mode

Kids Mode

Google Mobile Services

Chrome, Drive, Photos, Gmail, Google, Google+, Google Settings, Hangouts, Maps, Play Books, Play Games, Play Newsstand, Play Movie & TV, Play Music, Play Store, Voice Search, YouTube

Connectivity

WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac HT80, MIMO(2×2)

Bluetooth®: 4.0 BLE / ANT+

USB: USB 3.0

NFC

IR Remote

Sensor

Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, Hall, RGB ambient light, Gesture(IR), Finger Scanner, Heart rate sensor

Memory

RAM: 2GB

Internal Memory: 16/32GB

microSD slot upto 64GB

Dimension

142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm, 145g

Battery

2800mAh

Standby time: 390 hrs / Talk time: 21 hrs

 

[Source Samsung Press]

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imageAt dozens of grocery stores in three major US cities will roll out application that uses Apple’s iBeacon technology. Customers using iPhone and a specific app will receive product information or relevant coupon as they  get close to a particular products that have an iBeacon emitting device located nearby. The technology uses Low Energy Bluetooth that is available on new Apple iOS products.

The rollout is orchestrated by InMarket, an advertisement company. Grocery stores Giant Eagle and Safeway stores in Cleveland, Ohio, Seattle, Wash., and San Francisco, Calif are the first ones to be implemented. In order to receive InMarket promotion, customer needs to install the advertiser’s loyalty app for iPhone, called Checkpoints

If the implementation is deemed successful, InMarket will proceed with the same technology at more than 100 Safeway and Giant Eagle locations and thousands of locations in the top 20 markets.

So far iBeacons are used in Apple Stores, Macy’s Retail Stores. The technology promises additional benefits including no friction shopping payment to squarely target Android’s NFC.

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Today Google officially introduced its flagship pure android smartphone the Google Nexus 5, which is available in Google Play store. The Nexus 5 plastic body feature a 4.95” Gorilla Glass 3 with 1920 x 1080 resolution 445 PPI.The device is measured  69.17mm wide, 137.84mm tall, and 8.59mm thick and weighted 130g. The innards include 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 quad core CPU and 2GB RAM. 2300Mah non removable battery; no microSD slot for expansion.

The Nexus 5 supports LTE and full range WiFi bands; Bluetooth 4.0; 4.0 LE and NFC. 8MP camera with OIS and 1.3MP in the front.

image

The Nexus 5 is the first smartphone that runs Android KitKat 4.4 with Google Now integration. To activate, you can just swipe to the left or simply say “OK Google”. Android 4.4 adds some visual enhancement such translucent panels; Widget tab; SMS capable in Hangouts..

Users can buy the phone out right without contract unlocked at $349 for the 16GB version and $399 for the 32GB version. The color selection is white or black. The phone will work with almost all wireless carriers except Verizon in the US.





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Google is readying to launch its pure Android Nexus 5 made by LG. Today Wind Mobile, a Canadian carrier accidentally posted a pre-registration page with full specs. Many details about the device have been leaked on the Web for while now; so there is no surprise here. The device will feature Android 4.4 codenamed KitKat, which probably introduces new unknown coolness as described as “the smart, new phone made to capture the moments that matter.”

The Nexus line is known for its pure Android experience with no custom UI; full specs and relative low cost for an unlocked no contract smartphone.

image

  • Screen: 4.95-inch 1920×1080 display (445 ppi) Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Cameras: 1.3MP front facing 8MP rear facing OIS
  • Weight: 130 grams
  • Dimensions: 69.17 x 137.84 x 8.59 mm
  • Operating System: OS Android 4.4, KitKat
  • Chip Set: 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
  • Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G) 802.11 a/b/g/n/ncNFC (Android Beam) / Bluetooth 4.0
  • Storage / Memory / Ram: 16GB or 32GB internal storage 2GB RAM
  • Ports & Connectors: microUSB, SlimPort enabled, 3.5mm stereo audio jack, Dual microphones, Ceramic power and volume buttons

[Via MobileSirup]

The popular fitness & health tracking bracelet FitBit is readying for the holiday season with a new version called FitBit Force. The $129 bracelet gets additional functionalities as well as its size.

image

Last year, the wearable technology focused on fitness but this year wearable extends to smartwatches, smartglasses, etc; In addition to its forte of fitness tracking, FitBit Force is also delivering limited smartwatch like features starting with time.

Similar to many fitness bracelet, you would expect the FitBit to track your physical activities base on a set of predetermined goals. Data are loaded in to the smartphone or PC app, mainly serves as daily motivator to stay active and healthy.

The water resistant FitBit Force features a wider rubbery bracelet with a small OLED display to provide information such date, time, alarm clock, steps, stairs climbed, distance, sleep patterns, etc..

As aforementioned, the device sync to your smartphone app via Bluetooth or NFC if your Android has the support. The battery on the bracelet last amore than a week.

In the future, FitBit will offer notification for incoming call, text SMS.


[Source FitBit]

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image Last night, HTC announced the long-rumored HTC One Max smartphone. The device is somewhat similar to HTC flagship HTC One except the size. The full metal body allows a removable back cover just for microSD insertion. The battery 3300 mAh regretfully remains non replaceable.

The most notable feature and also the first on Android is the fingerprint scanner located on the back on the device. Similar to Apple’s offering, the feature lets user scan the fingertip to unlock without a entering the password. So far no hands-on experience has been reported for its effectiveness.

Additional features include:

  • 5.9-inch full-HD LCD display
  • 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with Sense 5.5 UI
  • 4MP UltraPixel/ 2.1MP cameras
  • HTC BoomSound speaker
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, DLNA
  • 16GB/ 32GB inbuilt storage variants, expandable up to 64GB via microSD card
  • 164.5×82.5×10.29mm
  • 217 grams

 


No words on pricing nor availability.

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Samsung just unveiled its $299 Android powered HomeSync device, a high-capacity (1TB) personal cloud device for your home. It lets you stream content from your GALAXY device such as the Galaxy S4 Note 3, S III, Note II, Note 8.0, Note 10.1 2014 Edition and Galaxy Camera using proprietary “Samsung Link” to the TV, so you can watch, browse and access all your home videos, photos and apps at full-HD 1080p.

image

As a personal cloud device, you can create and manage several accounts to upload, download, store, play back contents. The device lets user interact via the smartphone that can initially paired using simple touch NFC. Furthermore, you can install apps from the Samsung app store or Google Play. You can watch video contents stored on the HomeSync or stream from Internet.

The smartphone is acting as remote control to navigate, data input the HomeSync or mirror the phone display to the TV.

For $299, the device is expensive but it certainly does many things that other set top boxes can not. As far as your personal cloud, prepare to have a back up solution when you put all your family contents to that box.


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image After you upgraded to iOS 7 and supposedly you have the iPhone 4s or newer, you will have a new micro-location based technology called iBeacon. The technology uses a component dubbed as Bluetooth Low Energy as part of Bluetooth 4.0 specifications.

App developers and beacon maker can create an indoor location aware application based on this technology. A Polish company called Estimote, based in Silicon Valley, just announced pricing for its iBeacons. $99 can give you 3 units that can be placed at the desired locations. Roximity is another start-up company that leases beacons for monthly fees.

The battery powered beacons (the battery life is about 2 years) can detect supporting smartphones when they get within 30 ft radius of proximity to trigger corresponding app to broadcast information such discounts, detailed info about the products that are in sight, etc.. The API can issue both enter and exit triggers for appropriate actions. One of the benefits of BLE is the coverage and the cost of the chip that is much cheaper than NFC, which has been endorsed by Google but lately the company also jumped on BLE bandwagon.

PayPal recently, issued a similar technology for friction-less mobile payment. Apple could also combine iBeacon and PassBook app for similar mobile payment. We should expect to hear more about this promising technology in the months to come.


Update

Read more
Sony QX100 – 20MP F1.8 3.6X zoom $500 http://bit.ly/1cHJPNk
Sony QX10 – 18MP 10X zoom $250 http://bit.ly/14kP9pM

imageAhead of the official announcement, below is the promotional video of Sony lens camera QX10 and QX100. The QX10 has 10x optical Zoom ; the QX100 features 1 F/1.8 3.6x Optical Zoom and built-in sensor. When pairing with your Smartphone, Sony PlayMemories app will let user control the lens from the smartphone. The connection will be WiFi or NFC.

The camera can be attached to the back of the smartphone for a traditional form factor or it can stay detached while using the smartphone display as remote view finder.

QX10 and QX100 weigh 105g and 179g respectively with battery. Both of them come with Rechargeable Battery Pack NP-BN and power consumption rating of 1.1W during shooting. The two 18MP QX10 and 20.2MP QX100 will be available for $250 and $500 respectively.

We will find more tomorrow at launch.

 

Today Sony launched the low cost DSLR Sony Alpha 3000 and the mirrorless NEX-5T. Both cameras support standard APS-C sensor and Sony E-mount interchangeable lens.

The traditional DSLR Alpha 3000 sports an Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor 20.4 MP that can take photos at 3.5 frames per second. The camera can also capture HD videos up to 60 fps. The MRSP is $399.

image The more interesting of the two offerings is the smaller and fashionable 16.1 MP NEX-5T supporting 3X optical zoom and a 4X digital zoom.

The touch enable LCD is 3” in size and can tilt 180 degrees. The device comes with NFC and WiFi built-in, the 2 wireless technologies can be used to transfer photos from camera to Smartphone or use the phone display for live image preview and control.

The NEX-5T will come in black, white, and silver colors. the NEX-5T body-only for $550, or as a kit with a 16-50mm lens for $700.

In addition, Sony made available for both cameras some new lenses: the 16-70mm f/4 costs $1,000, the 18-105mm f/4 costs $600, and the 50mm f/1.8 will be $300. 

image Google is using the Moto X as test bed for Android innovation. The upcoming Moto X will be the first Android smartphone that has the capability to continuously monitor voice command from its owner to spring in to action. Today the search giant unveiled a new quick way to unlock the smartphone with just a tap bypassing the archaic password PIN entry.

The solution consists of a small clip paired with the smartphone using NFC that the user can just tap the phone to unlock. The clip called Moto Skip, which comes in several colors to match with the highly customizable Moto X. It can be worn on clothing, belt, etc… three additional dot stickers are also offered with the purchase of the Clip. These stickers can also unlock the smartphone with a single touch.

The solution could rival a widely speculative rumor that Apple will offers a finger scanning reader on the next iPhone to authentication and later on, a possible smartwatch that can unlock the iPhone by touching the two devices together.

Both solutions would make quicker and safer way to get in to the smartphone without entering a series of characters and special characters. PIN can still be used as password to unlock the phone in case of lost.

The Moto Skip will be available on Motorola’s website when the Moto X goes on sale.

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