CEATEC Japan 2011, Japan’s annual IT and electronics trade show, isn’t until next week but many companies are already teasing what they will bringing to the show. While Penn-Olson will be there bringing coverage from the floor, a few early mobile hardware announcements have already piqued my interest.
There are no doubt some great smartphone handset manufacturers from outside Japan. Samsung and HTC continue to produce popular phones with big, beautiful screens and fast processors. But when it comes to risky hardware innovation, the sort that may be too wacky to be useful or just may change the world, I always look to Japan.
Japan is the home of many mobile firsts, either in development or commercial deployment. While the jury is still out on some of this technology, smartphone innovations include 3D screens, 3D cameras, waterproof handsets, wireless charging, 1seg (mobile terrestrial audio/video), and Mobile FeliCa (similar to NFC for contactless payments etc.).
At CEATEC next week a few more mobile firsts will be debuted. As already reported, NTT Docomo will show off a series of smartphone cases with the ability to measure things like radiation and body fat. Docomo rival, KDDI, and handset manufacturer Kyocera have teamed up to develop an entirely different technology.
The two companies have come up with an advanced speaker system which may change the way people take phone calls. Compared to current phones which blast sound directly into the listener’s ear this new technology will allow phones to automatically adjust the method of noise projection based on the listener’s condition. For example, if the user has ear plugs in, such as a construction worker, the phone can detect the ear canal blockage and direct sound more directly through a subtle vibration of the ear itself. This would effectively allow the phone to be used while wearing earplugs. KDDI has also stated phone use over top of headphones as another use case.
Consumer implementation of the advanced speaker system is expected for fiscal 2012. Currently the necessary hardware requires less than 0.6mm of space. This is small enough to fit in most any smartphone, although I expect it will debut in a Kyocera handset first. The trade show will be the public’s first hands on with the technology and the manufacturers will no doubt be gauging consumer interest.
CEATEC Japan 2011 runs from October 4-8 at the Makuhari Messe. Visit the trade show homepage for more details and stay tuned to Penn-Olson for updates throughout the week.