By Alexander Villafania
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA – From tablet PCs to cloud computing, consumers can expect a better and “smarter” experience with technology this year.
For those driven by techno-lust – and even those remotely interested about gadgets – here’s a rundown of what to expect for 2012.
Big screens, small screens
Intel Philippines’ Jermyn Wong called it “screenification,” which means Internet-enabled devices will have different screen sizes. Last year saw a number of these types of different-sized devices such as the the Dell Streak 5 with a 5-inch screen, as well as the Galaxy Note. There were some 3.4-inch to 4-inch sized screens from various mobile device manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and LG. As more people start choosing the type of use they would have for their devices, manufacturers will be up on their toes coming up with purpose-built uses.
Intel coined the term “netbooks” for laptop computers that were less than 11 inches in screen size. Now they’re harking the coming of the ultrabooks, fully functional laptops that are about an inch or less in thickness. Of course, these will feature Intel’s latest processors (codenamed Ivy Bridge) that are manufactured using 22 nanometer process.
Not surprisingly, it was Apple’s MacBook Air that started all of this miniaturization of computers. It is expected that laptop manufacturers will finally come around and start coming out with better “MacBook Air killers.”
Speaking of Apple, the introduction of the software assistant named “Siri” in the iPhone 4S made people realize that their phones can be just a little more intelligent. Siri was developed by voice recognition software developer Nuance (the same company that made a voice recognition software for the BlackBerry) and their experience allowed them to create an application that can identify natural language patterns. While Siri is still available only for the iPhone 4S, there could be other such versions coming out for other manufacturers.
The use of augmented reality in some iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch applications is already starting to take shape in other devices. While its use is primarily for marketing purposes, there could be some use of it in entertainment specifically in TV online videos.
A few local firms are already using augmented reality, such as Top Gear Magazine, Globe Telecom, and KFC. With tablet PCs and smartphones becoming more widely used, companies will find ways to literally augment the experience for consumers using these devices and augmented reality applications is just one of these.
It’s still harder to make the ordinary Filipino understand what cloud computing is. In short, it’s using the Internet as a computer. Nowadays, it is businesses that are fully utilizing cloud computing but future services will include consumer cloud services.
Apple is already pioneering in this with its iCloud app that allows a user of an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch to have all their Internet-related use to be centralized. For instance, photos taken by an iPhone or iPod Touch will automatically be saved on one’s personal iCloud and the photo will be sent to the user’s other iCloud devices such as a MacBook or iMac. One advantage of this is that the user will not have to manually synchronize devices; the cloud does it for them. In 2012, similar services to the iCloud will appear enabling users to cut down on the time to do manual synchronization.
Some said 2011 would be the breakout year for smart TVs. True enough, several TV manufacturers, such as Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp came out with models that had Internet capabilities, albeit limited. These TVs are hybrid PCs that allow people at home to do some basic Internet activities such as checking emails, surfing websites, and social networks.
Samsung, in particular held a competition in the Philippine to get more people to develop apps for its Smart TVs. Price remains a factor in getting more people to buy these TVs but the preference for flat, widescreen TVs over CRT is such that the opportunity to find more interest in Internet-enabled TVs is ever increasing.
The University of the Philippines’ National TeleHealth Center has been at the forefront of telemedicine in the Philippines. Telemedicine is actually an umbrella term for various health services that involve the use of information technology.
One aspect is that a doctor can make a diagnosis of patients remotely just by using photos, videos, and other data inputted by health workers on the field. Given that the Philippines is composed of many islands, a telemedicine network would allow doctors to give their services even without having to be physically present. The TeleHealth Center is already conducting training on health workers and doctors to use telemedicine techniques, which would expand its use to other areas.
The cost of upgrading from our existing 3G mobile infrastructure to 4G LTE (3GPP Long-Term Evolution) by rival firms Smart Communications and Globe Telecom is already running up in the billions of pesos. But such investments is all for a good cause. LTE bandwidth is huge and if both companies deliver with their promises, Filipino mobile subscribers would be enjoying speeds of at least 7 megabits per second. Such a bandwidth would already provide numerous services, from streaming high definition videos and music, personal cloud services, interactive media, among others.
Of course, LTE would come with a price but as prices of smartphones go down, the opportunity for more Filipinos to enjoy fast Internet on their devices would become reality.
Social networks become more ‘social’
The Philippines is currently among the top users of social networking services. Even YouTube, which is already being integrated into networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, is already dominated by Filipino uploads. In such a scenario, Filipinos will start becoming more connected to their social networks through their mobile phones and tablet PCs. Businesses will start integrating social networks into their overall strategy and products will start hammering out new marketing techniques targeted at specific users on social networks.
Virtual payments using your phone
For the last for or five years, the use of virtual payment schemes has steadily risen. Globe Telecom and Smart Communications were already using card based mobile payment through their GCash and SmartMoney, respectively. Most Filipinos still consider cash as king but in today’s ever integrated financial industry, purchasing items using virtual payment schemes is becoming norm.
In 2012, when mobile carriers have finally finished upgrading their networks, merchandisers could start offering virtual payment systems through mobile phones. In essence, your phone credit is as good as cash.
Social networking seen driving tablet PC use among Pinoys
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