Around the IT Industry 1/7-1/11

by Modis on January 11, 2013

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Papertab Is Taking “Lighter and Thinner” to New Extremes

While flexible e-ink displays are nothing new, researchers at Queen’s University in Canada have created a way to make a full working tablet as thin as a sheet of paper.  The device is called Papertab and it works by connecting sheets of monochrome e-ink displays to a central processor by way of thin cables.  Each sheet becomes, in effect, its own application.  A photo displayed on one sheet can be attached to an e-mail being composed on a second sheet simply by touching the sheets together.  A multi-page document can be read on a single sheet by tugging up on the edge of the sheet, much as you would to turn a page.  While the Papertab is not likely to go commercial any time soon, Intel research scientist Ryan Brotman believes that most computers will look and feel like Papertab “within five to ten years.”

Samsung Announces 8-core Mobile Processor

Each year, the technology behind microprocessors continues to advance with higher speeds, multiple cores, and larger memory caches.  In 2013, Samsung is continuing that trend with the announcement of a new 8-core processor called the Exynos 5 Octa.  However, this particular processor is not being marketed towards high-end gaming PCs or graphical development workhorses; the Exynos 5 Octa is designed for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.  The processor works by having two independent quad-core clusters each based on different architectures.  For common processes such as e-mail or text messaging, the Exynos 5 Octa uses low-voltage ARM Cortex-A7 cores while reserving the higher-powered A15 cores for more demanding tasks like gaming or video processing.  This unique design will reduce power consumption up to 70% in mobile devices capable of using the processor, greatly extending battery life.

Electrowetting Technology Combines LCD and E-Ink

Liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) have long dominated the electronic display arena.  Televisions, smartphones, laptops, and even many modern vehicles make use of this technology every day.  LCDs are not without flaws, however.  For one, they use a considerable amount of electricity to operate.  They are also very difficult to read in brightly lit environments (especially in daylight).  More recently, a display technology known as “e-ink” has surfaced that uses very little power and is highly visible even in bright light.  This technology, commonly found in e-readers, is unfortunately restricted to monochrome and has issues with handling video due to its slow transition speeds.  Now, however, these two technologies have come together in a new display technology known as “electrowetting.”  Utilizing applied voltage to alter the behavior of a thin layer of receptive oil, the technology is capable of providing vibrant colors and fast-moving video with a fraction of the power consumption of LCDs and with much more visibility.

Target Agrees to Price Match Amazon All Year Round

In an effort to curb the behavior of “showrooming” in which customers will browse items in a brick-and-mortar store to evaluate them before returning home to purchase them online at a lower price, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel has announced a move that should really grab the industry’s attention:  Target stores will price-match Amazon for the entire year.  While the official start date of the offer has not been set, this offer will allow customers to purchase an item at Target and bring it back at any time within 7 days along with a listing from Amazon (or other retailers) for a lower price and have the cost difference refunded to them.

Google to Offer Free Public WiFi in NYC

Google is at it again in their seemingly endless quest to bring superior Internet connectivity to America.  This time, they have targeted the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City for their latest innovation: a wide-area public wireless network.  Much like the WiFi hotspots found in coffeeshops and bookstores across the country, the wireless network will be extended across a large number of homes and public areas to enable continuous Internet connectivity for all compatible devices within the network.  While Google hopes to extend the network to eventually encompass the entire city one day, the Chelsea project is a two-year pilot program intended to test the validity of such a program and measure its overall effectiveness.

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