The new year is just around the corner, and it is that time when we look back at the tech innovations through the year. We’ve already taken a look at top gadget launches of the year, we’ve covered about the top-rated smartphones, and we also talked about the adaptation of 4G and affordable mobile internet plans. Now, it’s time to look at innovations through the year 2017, something that made us go ‘wow’ instantly.
Smartphones with 18:9 displays
Yes, we have talked about this before, but we couldn’t ignore the fact that the innovation has been one of the top trends in 2017. Last year, Xiaomi introduced the Mi MIX with near bezel-less display with an aspect ratio of 17:9. Looking at the consumer interest, Google added support for 18:9 displays in the Android OS code.
Starting with LG G6, followed by the Q6 and V30, Google Pixel 2 XL and Honor 7X to name a few, 18:9 displays quickly became mainstream. Even the affordable Micromax Canvas Infinity priced under Rs 10,000 sports 18:9 display. New the resolution on these smartphones changes between HD to Full HD and QHD, but basically you get an all screen display on the front. Samsung also added tall displays to its flagship Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 smartphones, but here, the aspect ratio is slightly higher at 18.5:9.
Having tall displays makes it easier to watch videos, play games, and also surf websites with a wider view. And even as the display size increases, the form factor remains the same. In essence, a smartphone with 6-inch 18:9 display has a form factor of a 5.5-inch display phone, which means it is still compact enough to easily operate.
Face ID – new smartphone authentication feature
We store a lot of personal data on our smartphones, right from photos, videos and contacts. Our messages and emails also have confidential information, and with all of this data security is important. Until now, fingerprint sensor has been a commonly used biometric authentication solution, but trends are now changing.
With the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung introduced Iris scanner, and the same is present on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 smartphones too. It uses an infrared sensor and a dedicated camera to scan your irises and unlock the smartphone. Apple, on the other hand, introduced the new Face ID solution, which uses facial recognition technology to scan your face and unlock the smartphone.
Apple’s Face ID technology uses a dedicated TrueDepth camera and infrared sensor which projects and map and analyses over 30,000 invisible dots to create a depth map of your face. Making your face the password, you just need to look at the camera to unlock the smartphone. What’s more, Face ID can also be used for making purchases on App Store and other sites.
Other manufacturers are also including face recognition in their smartphones. LG did it with the Q6 and V30, Oppo and Vivo’s latest flagship smartphones come with face recognition feature. Even the latest OnePlus 5T comes with face recognition feature, and it will soon make its way to the OnePlus 5 via a software update. However, it is important to note that while Apple uses dedicated sensors, other manufacturers are using software based implementation.
Under display fingerprint sensor
Sure, Face ID (or facial recognition) technology sounds interesting and practical too, but there are times when the tech may not work as expected, especially in the dark. And fingerprint sensors are here to stay, just their implementation is likely to change. At MWC 2017 Shanghai, Qualcomm and Vivo demonstrated a prototype of the much-rumored under-display fingerprint sensor.
The technology uses an ultrasonic sensor which is placed under the display. Once the ultrasonic signals travel through the display, they create a 3D map of the fingerprint. An example of this could be sound wave traveling through compatible surfaces and creating unique fingerprint-based identities with the help of software.
Yes, it sounds too technical, but the technology will allow manufacturers to put the sensor under the display. To unlock, you just need to place your thumb or finger over the display, and it will unlock. This type of implementation will also allow manufacturers to save on space, and add other components instead. Synaptics also demonstrated a similar solution, and a lot of next year’s flagship smartphones such as iPhone XI, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and OnePlus 6, to name a few, are expected to come with under display fingerprint sensors.
Nintendo Switch – The mobile gaming console
This one’s for the gamers. While Microsoft and Sony are competing with powerful console level gaming, Nintendo built a system that bridges the gap between console and on-the-go play. Called Nintendo Switch, it is a handheld gaming device that comes with a 6.2-inch capacitive HD touchscreen display.
Now, what’s interesting here is that the display is sandwiched between a pair of removable controllers that can be used for gaming on the go. At home, you can remove these controllers, slide the tablet into a dock, which connected to a TV for the console-like gaming experience.
Since its launch in March, Nintendo has sold approximately 10 million units. Another factor that works in its favor are the game titles, which include Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The platform is also expected to get new gaming titles such as SquareEnix’s Project Octopath Traveler and Bethesda’s Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.
Light L16 – a portable camera with 16 sensors
Now, this is where things get interesting. Photography has always been often taken as a newfound hobby by a lot of novices (including me). A decade ago, there were analogue cameras, then came the compact point-and-shoot ones. Today, even a beginner wants to buy a DSLR. Why? Because it gives you advance controls to take professional level photos, and also gives the ability to use different lenses.
But today, even smartphones are as capable as the point-and-shoots and crawling closer to DSLRs. Dual camera sensors is the buzz word, and has also been the trend for mid-range and flagship smartphones. And then, you have Light L16, a compact camera with 16 sensors. Yes, you read that right, 16 different camera sensors on one portable camera. But why soo many lenses? It lets you capture wide-angles photos, standard photos, panoramas, and photos with 5X optical zoom, without the lens moving in and out.
Priced at $1,950 (Rs 125,000 approximately), there are 16 individual modules of 13-megapixel sensors. Out of these, five are 28mm lenses of aperture f/2.0, five are 70mm lenses of aperture f/2.0 and 6 are 150mm lenses of aperture f/2.4. With ISO sensitivity between 100-3,200, it also supports shutter speed between 1/8,000 t0 15 seconds.
The portable camera is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, runs on Android OS, and features connectivity options such as GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It is armed with a 4,120mAh battery that offers up to eight hours of battery life on full charge. It also comes with 256GB of onboard storage and 4K video recording capabilities.
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