Video Trumps Voice In Future Phones - InformationWeek
11:42 AM
Ransomware: Latest Developments & How to Defend Against Them
Nov 01, 2017
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of malware, and new breeds that escalate quickly ar ...Read More>>

Video Trumps Voice In Future Phones

Mobile-phone design is in the middle of a dizzying switcheroo. A state-of-the-art phone isn't really a phone anymore-it's a 5-megapixel digital camera, a slim digital camcorder or a high-quality portable music player that tucks in a phone as a value-added feature.

LAS VEGAS — Mobile-phone design is in the middle of a dizzying switcheroo. A state-of-the-art phone isn't really a phone anymore-it's a 5-megapixel digital camera, a slim digital camcorder or a high-quality portable music player that tucks in a phone as a value-added feature.

Such designs were everywhere in evidence at the Consumer Electronics Show here earlier this month. Samsung Electronics, for example, showed an array of portable audio/video hybrids featuring cell phone capability. Similarly, Sony-Ericsson exhibited a camera phone that was less a handset with an added camera feature than a Sony digital still camera that had morphed into a phone.

Cell phones are growing into one of the most important platforms for consumer ICs, said Leon Husson, executive vice president for the consumer businesses at Philips Semiconductors. Husson predicted that within 10 years, phones-not TV sets-will consume most of the consumer IC group's TV chips.

The numbers tell the tale. Some 200 million to 250 million TV sets are sold annually worldwide, but over the coming decade, 600 million cell phones will be sold per year, Husson said. Assuming that 50 percent of them come with a TV capability, that's 300 million handsets.

In Husson's view, advanced communication features "will become a commodity where we can do very little to differentiate," whereas "multimedia features can truly differentiate one phone from another."

Such systems will fuel a growing demand for billions of digital photos that can be easily uploaded onto a living room TV, said Vyomeshi Joshi, senior vice president for printing, imaging and consumer electronics businesses at Hewlett-Packard Co.

That will require engineers to design a video output capability into every camera phone, said Philips' Husson. "It can be composite video, USB 2.0, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi." All told, he said, "We see it [the cell phone] providing a huge opportunity where we can sell another piece of our silicon."

Smarter DSPs
The industry also anticipates that consumers will soon demand an easy way to transfer content from a living-room PVR to their mobile handsets, or to download music from a cell phone to the hi-fi system back home. Jeremiah Golston, chief technology officer for DSP streaming media at Texas Instruments Inc., said the next spin on DSPs-chips that will be designed into media centers or set-tops in 18 months-will not only need to decode audio/video streams but will also have to encode in formats appropriate to individual consumer devices in the home.

Such DSPs should have enough intelligence to change frame rates or resolution automatically to match the end product's capability. "HD [high-definition] video recorded into a PVR, for example, should be transcoded and downscaled, while eliminating certain functions such as trick plays from the bit stream so that the content can be viewed on a wireless handheld device without consuming too much power," Golston said.

Philips' Husson makes no secret of his excitement over the TV-on-mobile market opportunity. A trial under way in Berlin involving Philips, Nokia, Vodafone and Universal Studios Networks Germany is already proving the popularity of handset TV. "Consumers really like it," Husson said. Remaining challenges, however, include implementing "a global digital TV feature onto a global phone," he said. "You need a global TV feature in the mobile phone so that you can tune into a TV on your handset wherever you go."

From the semiconductor vendor's point of view, that means the software in the handset chip must deal with different global digital TV standards.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll