Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Healthcare devices with infrared

I received an announcement forwarded from one of my readers about a healthcare product in Japan - Wireless Japan 08 show. Omron had introduced a weighing machine that uses infrared to beam data from the device to a computer for monitoring one's body fat over time - now that's a useful thing these days! Quite a clever thing. Here's the picture from the show, the Omron HBF-362 (beaming from the device) and from their website (the full view of the product), respectively:

Also from the same Wireless Japan 08, there were phones from Sharp and Docomo that have built-in health monitoring capabilities, and beaming to local devices using infrared. From the Sharp SH706iw can measure your heartrate using the sensor on the underside of the phone:

Here is Docomo's unidentified phone:

So I thought I should check out US products too, and lo and behold! There are at least two companies already using infrared in their products.

Roche Accu-Chek Blood Glucose Meter Systems:
Compact Plus Meter, Compact Meter, Aviva and Active models (in order below):

A diagram from the Roche product brochure showing how to transfer data:

ar Systems makes sports monitoring devices with infrared to beam data to PCs:
RS800CX, S725X, CS600 and their IrDA-USB adaptor (below) - and 14 other models not shown here:

Phones with infrared

OK, so there is sufficient question out there about whether there are really any phones with infrared. So, here is the list I have personally found with IrSimple. I have not bothered with the slower IrDA 1.0 versions which are 115kbps or even the slightly faster IrDA 1.1 at 1Mbps. Just to prove to myself that the next generation IrSimple with 4Mbps that the Infrared Data Association members are talking about is real.
I will continue to update here when I see new models introduced. Watch this space!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The 'Flip Video' is for sharing....

Have you heard of the buzz surrounding the "Flip Video" from Pure Digital Technologies based in San Francisco? Apparently Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg are all flipping over their new Flip camcorders!
It is about the size of a candybar cellphone but about 1.25inches thick with a single red record button on the back. It has only solid state memory (1 or 2GB models available)
The design center focuses on exactly the way Gen-Y are using camcorders today: take a short clip and then share it with your friends on youtube or facebook. Builtin software dispenses with the need to install software.
Jonathan Kaplan, CEO of Flip Video says it is so easy "when you want to share the video, all you have to do is flip the USB and plug in the video to share on youtube!"
But the question this blogger wants to know is what happens if you want to share
with someone in the taxi home the video of Johnny Depp that you caught in the nightclub?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Printing from your phone?

So how do you print that email message from your smartphone if you really needed to? Perhaps it is a set of driving directions or a coupon?
Sharp Japan has just introduced a fax machine (UX-D90CL or 'fappy') that allows you to also beam your message via infrared for p
rinting using IrDA's IrSimple standard. Sharp's marketing has decided to call it "cordless digital fappy". I suppose if you desperately want a copy of your driving directions from your phone printed out or faxed, you just point and shoot it to the 'fappy'. Note the infrared window below the numeric pad.
Sharp UX-D90CL

Other smaller printers, mostly portable and thermal, are also announced recently with IrSimple.
Seiko DPU-S445 and Extech S5400
Three photo printers from Canon has already been available with IrSimple:
SELPH CP770, Canon ES1 and Canon iP90

I anticipate there are more products out there in with IrSimple that we have not heard about. Watch this space!

Gigabit handheld speeds. Now THAT's blazing fast!!

Looks like the folks at IrDA can no longer be accused of being asleep at the wheel for the past few years. At Wireless Japan 2008, one of the members of the Infrared Data Association demonstrated "Giga-IR", a whopping 1 Gbps data transmission on a handheld prototype.

At that speed, peer-to-peer beaming of any sort of files from your handheld phone/camera/pda/mp3/videocamera/etc becomes a reality. Today, the closest technology you can consider is Bluetooth but with its 3Mbps data rate, will severely restrict what file sizes you can beam. Single songs may be OK but longer videos may be tedious. RF technologies typically get harder to design and significantly more expensive as the data rates increase.

KDDI, who developed the "Giga-IR" expects beaming 20-30 songs using this new technology will take only 1-2 seconds. Now, that's impressive! Now applications are no longer limited by speed.

See video below.

IrDA has initiated a working group to complete the standard for "Giga-IR" which is expected to be complete by March 2009. Now, that too, is fast!
I believe the Giga-IR module prices will be significantly lower than their RF counterparts and they will be able to persuade more device companies to implement this new technology.

Well done IrDA & KDDI!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A place to beam your photo!

Here is confirmation that perhaps infrared capability is not as rare as we think, especially if a vendor (this one seems to be Italian) is prepared to incorporate it into a photo kiosk in a public place. I recently received a picture of a photo kiosk at Geneva Airport that has IR capability (including other normal slots for various memory cards). I guess it makes sense if you just wanted a photo from your vacation to give to your friend as you depart at the airport - for keepsakes, and to remember the good times by!
In case you haven't noticed, most digital cameras have their memory slots together with the battery slot - so if you want to just pull out a quick photo to print, you have to shut down the camera completely! That makes no sense. Beaming the photo to the kiosk seems a cleaner approach. Besides it is less likely you will pick up any viruses if you did not plug your memory card into some strange slot.....(especially on holiday ;-)
Anyway, if anyone has pictures of other IR examples, do send me a photo and I will report it here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beaming 10 megapixel photos work!

Here is something you don't see everyday - beaming photos from one camera to another.
I came across these Fujifilm FinepixZ cameras at London Heathrow's Terminal camera shop and decided to check it out. (notice the security attachments still on the cameras as I played with them at the counter!)
I took a random picture at the shop with the black camera and beamed it to the pink camera at the counter (see video).

10 megapixel photo beamed in about 6 seconds - not bad! This uses infrared. Definitely faster than Bluetooth.
There was no indication if the Finepix camera implemented IrSimple. The button I pressed was simply labelled "IR". The sales assistant did not know that the camera had this capability until I showed it. I sure hope Fujifilm would promote this capability more visibly! A quick check on Google showed that these cameras are already available in UK, Europe, USA and also parts of Asia.
So why would anyone want to take a picture and beam it to another camera? I can see the instances when you and your friends on holiday have just taken a group picture and everyone also wants the one. All the cameras pop up and the group hangs around for the next 15 min while one camera after another is used to take 'just another photo'. If the cameras had infrared, the group photo could be beamed to each other at the bar!
Is that all? I suppose if a handphone has the same infrared standard, the camera can beam the photo to the phone too. Now, that will be an interesting situation. I can then imagine camera-to-cameras be primarily beaming photos. But if a handphone had infrared too, the camera can beam photos to it and vice-versa. But the handphone can also beam to each other - other file types can be beamed too. How about music and music videos? Wouldn't it be great if iPhone had infrared?