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Qualcomm Toq Is Engineer-CEO's Tick
9/5/2013

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Paul Jacobs announced the Toq watch at Uplinq.
Paul Jacobs announced the Toq watch at Uplinq.

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rick merritt
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What's your pet project?
rick merritt   9/5/2013 12:05:51 PM
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And BTW, what do you think about smart watches?

 

docdivakar
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Re: What's your pet project?
docdivakar   9/5/2013 1:47:11 PM
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@Rick: that is an interesting business strategy for the Mirasol division of Q. But the wearables display market is already saturated, how ever positioning it with the other two solutions (WiPower LE & AllJoyn initiative) probably strengthens its offering. Only time will tell... did you hear about any design wins stemming from the technology demo of Toq?

MP Divakar

junko.yoshida
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Re: What's your pet project?
junko.yoshida   9/6/2013 3:56:42 AM
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@Rick, a great story. I think Paul Jacobs lays out -- quite convincingly why Qualcomm needed to develop this.

As a reporter, I never thought much about smart watches because it's a story told too many times. And yet, when I got an assignment several years ago to write about "Dick Tracy Watch," I was shocked to learn that every engineer, every researcher i talked to in the electornics industry was literally obsessed with it. Everyone, in fact, wanted to be interviewed!

There is something about smart watches. I think it presents a set of very difficult problmes engineers would love to solve, which is admirable. But unfortunately, it isn't exactly what consumers are craving for.

junko.yoshida
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Re: What's your pet project?
junko.yoshida   9/6/2013 3:58:03 AM
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In short, if I may add one more thing, "pet projects" by engineers are not the same thing as products obsessed by average consumers...

Peter Clarke
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Re: What's your pet project?
Peter Clarke   9/6/2013 10:57:05 AM
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Although I think Toq may also represent Qualcomm taking a leaf out of Imagination's book

Imagination owns the Pure digital radio equipment brand. Hossein Yossaie has alway said that running IP cores business and equipment business in parallel has synergies.

The equipment business can be fast to market showing off new technologies enabled by IP and chips and it also provides a system-level view of what the market cares about.

In the Qualcomm case Toq can show off AllJoyn and wireless charging when it may be struggling to persaude others of the benefits and it also feeds back to the deveopers what is needed at the system-level and therefore in system-on-chips.

 

Peter Clarke
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Re: What's your pet project?
Peter Clarke   9/6/2013 11:08:17 AM
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Although I think Toq may also represent Qualcomm taking a leaf out of Imagination's book

Imagination owns the Pure digital radio equipment brand. Hossein Yassaie has alway said that running IP cores business and equipment business in parallel has synergies.

The equipment business can be fast to market showing off new technologies enabled by IP and chips and it also provides a system-level view of what the market cares about.

In the Qualcomm case Toq can show off AllJoyn and wireless charging when it may be struggling to persaude others of the benefits and it also feeds back to the deveopers what is needed at the system-level and therefore in system-on-chips.

 

alcrawfo
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Re: What's your pet project?
alcrawfo   9/6/2013 11:33:24 AM
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Key feature is the mirasol display. Smartmatch may be the killer feature for this.

Peter Clarke
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Re: What's your pet project?
Peter Clarke   9/6/2013 11:41:35 AM
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I was somewhat underwhelmed by the Mirasol display when I saw it a few years back.

It is non-volatile and can work with ambient light which are positives but compared to what we are used to in backlit LCD it looked a bit washed out.

In consumer electronics where products have to shout and zing to make the sale this could be a problem. It seems like the e-reader makers took the same view.

Of course the display may have been improved since then so I will reserve judgment for this latest go round.

 

 

 

rick merritt
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Re: What's your pet project?
rick merritt   9/6/2013 12:53:15 PM
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@Junko: Good point. The concept of the smart watch is like the perpetual motion machine. A facinating Rubrik's Cube no one has solved yet but many engineers would like to. How to make something so small and intimate really compelling???

Where's Steve Jobs!

junko.yoshida
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Re: What's your pet project?
junko.yoshida   9/12/2013 6:04:52 PM
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I know, I agree, Rick. It's an enternal problem that excites engineers, Qualcomm CEO included. On the other hand, I wonder if Steve Jobs would have been so interested in the smartwatch...I am just not so sure.

tiorbinist
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Re: What's your pet project?
tiorbinist   9/6/2013 11:42:33 AM
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I'd just be happy with a watch with a respectable display and an analog face. I don't use a smart phone, but I do have an Android tablet, and an interface to it that really _did_ something (other than constantly nagging me about how much work it is doing) would be great. I am more interested, though, in some of the technologies that doesn't seem to do much for others.

The wireless earphones would be a great attraction for me. With a voice-input for commands and dictation, voice and signalling-sound responses and the screen for things that just need a picture to get the point across, this could be a very useful peripheral. Plus, the stereo earphone aspect is very interesting. There'd have to be a mechanism, easy to use and access, to allow ambient throughput, like when you're in the midst of a song and someone is trying to talk to you. (Also, it wouldn't take too much to train it to recognize warning sounds and notify you, in case the earphones actually block out the noise!)

The display is a very large draw for me. I've done a fair amount of work in holographic interferometry and volume holograms: the Mirasol technology is very closely related. It also has a history, whether Qualcomm knows it or not: Lippmann was making color photographs based on volume gratings in a thick emulsion in the early 1900's, for which he won a Nobel Prize in 1908. Denisyuk's single-beam holography uses the same kind of volume-gratings-in-emulsions to produce White-light viewable 3D images.

To have this phenomenon used in a display is gratifying! I wish I had the money to buy one.

rick merritt
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Re: What's your pet project?
rick merritt   9/6/2013 12:50:35 PM
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@tiorbinist: Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

Marc Andreessen in an interview here said the potential of the earpiece in Google's Project Glass is overlooked for its significance: voice reco and synthesis with an Internet connection will be significant, he said. And I think he's right, especially if you add the stereo audio stuff Toq has and you discuss in your comment.

I'd love to follow up with you about your views on wearables and displays, etc. You seem to have some deep expertise there. I'm at brick.merritt@ubm.com

tiorbinist
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Re: What's your pet project?
tiorbinist   9/6/2013 3:08:32 PM
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@rick,

I tried to email you, but the address (with and without the leading 'b') bounced.

 

I don't claim expertise, but it's something I've spent a lot of time researching and considering. The big question: How can you interface a human with a computer in a useful way that doesn't involve distracting, distorting or really objectionably noticeable action on the part of the human?

The Computer->Human side is getting easier and easier. The Google Glass, now there's a great approach: beam the visual output directly into the eye with proper optical techniques (and power limits) to avoid distortion (or eye damage), and provide fairly inconspicuous earphone/s. But going the other way? [Cell phone gaffe: go to the bathroom. A familiar voice from the next stall says, "Hi! I haven't seen you in a while--what have you been up to?" You start to answer, and the owner of the voice continues the conversation he's having on his cell phone...]

There have been a few approaches. Voice recog is fine...but you're perceived as talking to yourself, or worse yet, someone in the vicinity. (Even worse yet, you're perceived as hebephrenic, and they send for the nice young men in the white coats...)

I've considered morse code via a simple 2-contact (ring and fingertip, two fingertips, etc) approach. Bite switches are possible, but interfere with normal talking and wires and bulges are unfortunate.

Basically, the problem is wearables without earning Neal Stephenson's "Gargoyle" appelation.

That is worth some development.

tiorbinist
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Re: What's your pet project?
tiorbinist   9/6/2013 5:10:52 PM
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As I said, mirasol fascinates me. The implementation in the TOQ appears to be a standard approach: the tri-colored 3-pixel system used for color TV. The way the pixels get their color and are controlled is the wonderful part. The nearest analog I can think of right now is the Japanese Matryonim (created by Masami Takeuchi using phenomina discovered by Lev Termin and incorporated in his invention, the Theremin.)

The Matryonim uses body capacitance to tune one of two radio-frequency oscillators. The other oscillator is fixed, and the two signals are mixed (a form of interference) and filtered to produce the difference (beat) frequency, which falls in the audio range. In the Theremin, a second circuit (also using body capacitance) controls the volume output of the device, but the Matryonim have no volume control. Instead, the player simply removes their hand (which provides one plate of the tuning capacitor) to a distance that causes the pitch output to fall below the audible range. Within the range where the beat frequency is an audible pitch, the player chooses the pitch by adjusting hand distance and controls the pitch accuracy via hand-ear coordination.

The elements of the Mirasol are similar, except instead of using radio frequencies and a mixer with filters, the Mirasol element is an etalon with movable plates. Optically, the etalon passes (or reflects) light related to the distance between the plates. To get red, green and blue pixels, adjacent Mirasol elements have different "on" distances. To turn the pixel on, the two 'plates' are driven apart to mechanical stops which provide the proper distance to pass the desired color. To turn them off, the plates are 'closed' so that the light they reflect is outside the visiable range, similar (but not 'like') the Matryonim. (The black off-color comes from a black coating on the plate further from the eye.)

If the plate separation could be driven to a desired distance and left, without having to maintain drive to keep them there, then it might be possible to produce the complete color range from only one cell. You can't get white from a single cell, though: white isn't in the spectrum, it is a combinaton of lots of different wavelengths (or at least three!). But in cases where white was needed, devoting multiple neighboring pixels to provide the needed multiple colors (just as they do now) is possible. That means that a multiple-position plate pixel would triple the resolution over the current RGB approach. Color accuracy could be very good at preset distances, which is good, because individual chroma detectors for feedback would really complicate the assembly!

I don't believe we get that from any other display technology, at this point, and I don't know that we could. LEDs and similar emitters tend to be limited in wavelength emission, or quite underlimited.

And while that would be great, we have to keep in mind that we would get only hue variation, but not luminance: on the CIE chart, we'd get a thin-line U shaped choice of colors from a pixel. Some brightness control in local areas could be obtained with dithering (at the cost, once again, of resolution.) Coupling a black-and-white array of emitters which can be individually controlled for brightness with an array of multi-distance or continuously-variable-distance Mirasol elements would be... well, pretty awesome!

rick merritt
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Re: What's your pet project?
rick merritt   9/9/2013 2:17:02 PM
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@tiornbinist: Thanks for your thoughtful replies and sorry for my typo.

My email really is rick.merritt@ubm.com

 

 

selinz
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Re: What's your pet project?
selinz   9/6/2013 12:04:24 PM
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It's interesting that all of the sudden smart watches are getting so much attention but Motorola's Action watch series pretty much got almost no attention. In fact, I believe that they've discontinued it. It was really designed to work in conjunction with your phone (which is good from a service standpoint) but it was pretty much a full Android platform on you wrist. It was target at the exercise market but these other products really seem to be "me too" offerings.

selinz
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Re: What's your pet project?
selinz   9/6/2013 12:07:07 PM
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To answer your "what do you think" question, I personally like have mechanically complex watches on my wrist! Much cooler IMHO!Of course, these have little microp's too. But a solar powered, 5 motor, world time chronograph seems to satisfy the engineer nerd in me better than a digital display. Perhaps of the smart watch had a 5 inch screen...

BillM210
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SmartWatch uses
BillM210   9/6/2013 12:40:23 PM
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I doubt SmartWatches will replace our current SmartPhones.  Display size might be one reason.

Where I do see an interesting market for SmartWatches is in monitoring health (diabetes, heart attack, etc) back to the wearer.  If the consumer's health needs continual monitoring by a doctor, I could see these watches also sending information to their doctor or a nearby hospital (yes, watch would also send GPS location).  Plenty of hurdles to leap before this can be enabled.

rick merritt
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Re: SmartWatch uses
rick merritt   9/6/2013 12:44:25 PM
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@Bill: Note Qualcomm is carewful to say Toq is NOT replaceing a smartphone. It's a second screen for a smartphone--a quick way to check notifications from the smartphoe and ndecide if you want to go into the phoe and do something.

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