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[June 29, 2014]
Tech a look at the future [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) AT the recent CommunicAsia 2014 exhibition, Nicholas King gets a glimpse of what is to come.
Ever since Hanna-Barbera's The Jetsons hit the screens in the 1960s, the world had been waiting for the day when flying cars and floating cities would be a normal sight. It is safe to say that with the present technology, such a time is yet to come.
Fear not though, for there is still progress as shown at the four- day CommunicAsia 2014, EnterpriseIT 2014 and BroadcastAsia 2014 exhibition at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore from June 17-20. There, I found how much closer we actually were to the next phase of the future.
4K AND 8K UHDTV VIEWING Clearer viewing was the main highlight of the annual event. With companies looking to broadcast in full 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD), our viewing experience will soon find Full HD a thing of the past.
Sony and Panasonic focused on 4K UHD broadcasting during the event, with the viewing technology having already been in trial since last year in some parts of the world.
This year's Winter Olympics at Sochi and a few of the matches in the ongoing Fifa World Cup were some of the international events first recorded in the 4K UHDTV - so if you have a 4K UHD television set in your living room, consider yourself privileged to be one of the first to experience the next level of picture and video quality.
Even though Malaysia had yet to fully integrate itself with HD broadcast, Panasonic marketing group product manager Neil Ugo released some surprising data on how Japan had already planned for 8K broadcast trial run sometime in 2016 - that's twice the visual quality of a 4K UHD - for public consumption.
Pricey as UHDs are at present (in the five-digit price range) locally, a price drop is imminent and may be sooner than we think.
When higher resolution televisions become the norm, larger sets will become more affordable.
This also means more 4K UHD content soon. For those worried that their Blu-ray discs will be the thing of the past, Ugo assures that these have enough storage space to handle 4K UHD terabytes.
DRONES AND OCTOCOPTERS We all find it hardest to achieve aerial shots and have to be content with the limitations of buildings, cranes and customised remote controlled alternatives.
Not anymore. Eye in the sky brings a whole new meaning to those into aerial photography and videography.
The consumer-friendly DJI's Phantom 2 aerial drone comes with a Zenmuse H3-3D to hold GoPro Hero 3 and Hero 3+ cameras and is viewable on iPhone or iPad while it is up in the air.
For something more heavy duty, Spreading Wings S1000 octocopter is strong enough to carry your Canon 5D MK II and MK III. Just be prepared to shell out almost RM30,000 (estimated below US$10,000) if you're in dire need of it right now.
Those interested may want to check out www.dji.com to find out more or make a purchase.
TOUGHER GADGETS Today's smartphones and tablets look more eye appealing, compared to a decade ago, yet they all suffer durability issues. Drop it and the screen has a 50 per cent chance of shattering.
However, the phones from RugGear can take a beating. The company claims its latest iSafe Innovation 2.0 smartphone, which runs on Android 4.2.1, can even withstand an explosion.
The phone has Near Field Communication, a push-to-talk button, a Lone Worker Protection SOS system, dual SIM capability and like many of its products, it can withstand the standard two-metre drop test and -20 to 60oC temperature test - perfect for outdoor trekking.
It's a bit pricey at S$2,700 (RM6,948), but its other products are more affordable. Check out www.ruggear.com.sg.
If money is not an issue, and you want the toughest, largest tablet around, there is Panasonic's latest 20-inch Toughpad 4K tablet.
Currently the only 4K UHD tablet in the market, the massive screen runs on Windows 8.1 with specs that make it run like a portable PC on its own (the Performance variant comes with Intel Core i7-3687U vPro Processor, 2.1GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz, NVidia Quadro K1000M GPU, 2GB dedicated VRAM, 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM, HD 720p webcam with microphone, 5Mp rear-facing camera). It is also able to handle computer-aided design (CAD) software.
Available only in the United States and Japan for now, it costs US$3,999, according to Panasonic Toughbook Asia Pacific Group director Jun Matsuo.
CONNECTED CITY Smart home security systems, smart bed, mobile payments solutions taking away the need for physical wallets, data gathering and WiFi at a whim from almost any location, driverless cars, cloud systems set up everywhere to accommodate a mobile work environment - nearly everything will be accessible with the touch of your smartphone or tablet.
Yes, the future is right at our doorstep.
Companies like Kore Wireless and Bimar have proposed methods to help urban residents stay connected, with instant data gathering in shopping malls and installed hubs in the city to allow WiFi access in parks and streets.
If these don't sound too far-fetched, that's because you've probably already seen, experienced or know what the latest technology is capable of.
Researchers at Singapore-MIT Alliance Research and Technology, National University of Singapore and Massachusetts Institute Of Technology have come up with a Mobility-on-Demand system that can transform electric vehicles into driverless machines.
At the end of the day, the core of this entire blueprint of a connected city has to begin from a place we find the greatest comfort in - our home.
Taiwan-based company Tecom aims to offer an affordable smart home system for the mass market with home alarm and monitoring, purchasing and communication - all connected to your tablet or smartphone. Details at www.tecom.com.tw.
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