Friday, December 31, 2010

The Next Gen Mobile Phones

I have been recently thinking about what would be the next major leap in the mobile phone arena. What I feel is that soon video calls will be replaced by 3D video calls. Yes ppl, Things that were science fiction in movies like star wars could be reality soon. All of you should have watched star wars, where skywalker appears as a 3d projection in front of yoda. Soon this sci-fi could be reality with our mobile phones.

I feel this could be reality soon because there has been lot of innovation happening in this area. Apple has been recently granted a patent, which tells us that Apples R&D is actively looking into this domain. Also there has been lot of 3d products coming out. For example the 3d LED TV's from Samsung and others are also because of active research in this direction. Not to be left behind the projectors are also becoming smaller and smaller. Chip makers like Texas Instruments are also pursuing this domain. TI has a line of chips of its trademark technology DLP used in projectors.

One more technology that could kick off soon is something what Swpe is pursuing. User input to these hand held mobile devices is moving from hard keys to soft touch screens. So naturally the user need not key in the characters he wants to type in. But still these devices use the standard QWERTY keyboard. This keyboard only suits the standard PC's or Laptop's. These tablets devices should use some other innovative method for user inputs. Swpe seem to have cerated some innovation in this area. However they still use the QWERTY keyboard. Probably they have to redesign the keyboard to suit these devices.

There has been recently lot of buzz about NFC with the Android devices. I'm really excited about all these stuff happening around. Lets see if my predictions become reality.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What might happen if a patent expires...?

Recently i have been wondering a lot about what will happen when patents expire. Particularly patents that have been generating huge revenues to companies. I was tempted to investigate on this since i came to know LabVIEW, which is National Instruments proprietary software patent is set to expire on 2011.

What would happen if a patent expires. Usually in the pharmaindustry, what happens is that, companies spend lot in R&D for developing drugs, which they patent and sell at quite high profitable margins. But once the patent expires, things change. Now other companies also start manufacturing the same drug. So the company that invented drug can no more sell the drug at high margins. There are even possibilities that it can loose the entire market to its competitors.

As far as the software industry is concern, the open source software's are now serious threats to proprietary software's. So like more people are migrating to Linux from windows, to open office from MS office, once a free software comes out then it could seriously affect the market of the proprietary software's. Some proprietary software's are protected by patents. Until then the company that holds the patent can mint money out of it. When the patent expires, then the company has to reduce the pricing, and seriously bank on the support they provide for their software as a weapon to push any free wares that have no support out of market.

So I'm curiously awaiting to watch what happens to LabVIEW, when its patent expires. Its interesting to note that National Instruments has stopped Mathworks from selling simulink, saying its a violation of the patent it holds for graphical data flow programming. LabVIEW is entirely based on this patent.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Open Source Business Model

I recently read about the business model of companies that develop open source software. It was quite interesting. So I thought, I could share it with everyone. There are quite a few companies, while supporting this idea of open source are making money. There are four organizations that I came across.

OpenCV is a open source computer vision library, originally an Intel initiative now supported by Willow Garage. Intel started off this initiative, partly to compete in the non -PC market. Intel processors were not a preferred choice for DSP or image processing applications. So by starting of this open source computer vision library initiative Intel will be able to lure customers to use its processors, since most of the OpenCV was developed and tested on Intel processors. I think there were also few acquisition's on Intel, that OpenCV gave better preforamnce on Intel processors when compared to others. Now OpenCV is supported by Willow Garage, a robotics research lab and technology incubator. The huge advantage that I think Willow Garage has is, since OpenCV is vital for robotics application, it can benefit from the community developing the library, while Willow Garage can sell its robotics hardware using this library to develop software for their robots.

A similar open source initiative is OpenGL, a graphics library. OpenGL was started off by Silicon Graphics. This was made open source because there were lots o hardwares/GPU's released by various vendors in the market. Silicon Graphics had to spend lot its resources to develop applications for each of these hardwares. By making OpenGL open source it benefits from the community that can develop the each hardware specific API's, so that OpenGL will act as a common graphics library. So that Silicon Graphics can spend all its resources developing its complete application using OpenGL.

Ubuntu ,Red Hat and Novell are probably well know examples of this open source business. Both Red Hat and Novell develop a free versions of Linux as well a paid service that comes along with support. However Ubuntu driven by Canonical Ltd, sells Ubuntu for free, but sells training and support for Ubuntu.