Thursday, August 24, 2006

Goodbye Buttons: The Future of Cell Phones

Since you first possessed the faculties to ask for brand names, the tides of fashion have been rolling in and out of your wardrobe. And it isn't just about what's in your closet, either. Fashion has tried to influence your choices in appliances, housewares and more. With the rapid advancement of technology, especially concerning electronics and computing, it was inevitable that fashion would touch these areas, too. What’s it coming for next? Your cell phone, if it hasn’t already.
A recent article in Business Week outlines the next wave in mobile-phone technology. By the look of things, we'll soon be looking back at our "clamshells" and "candy bars" with the same disdain-and-snicker treatment you give your old Zack Morris phone. The new designs Business Week profiled included a watch-alarm-clock-phone combo, a solid-gold phone adorned with 120 carats of diamonds and an electronic ink phone with a flexible display.
Most interesting, in my humble opinion, is Synaptics' prototype design for a no-button phone called Onyx.

Photo courtesy Synaptics
Yes, the Onyx looks very cool.
Business Week reports that, instead of buttons,
...the Onyx device understands signs and gestures, thanks to the sensitive touch pad covering most of its surface. It opens and closes applications when swiped by one or two fingers. The phone recognizes shapes and body parts. Lift Onyx to your cheek and it will pick up a call.

Photo courtesy Synaptics-->
The no-button, breakthrough interface the phone will use is called ClearPad, a new touch screen technology that will be available on the consumer market later in 2006. Top Tech News has more details:
According to Synaptics, "this creates new possibilities such as assigning functions to two-finger taps, closing tasks by swiping an 'X' over them, sending messages by swiping them off the screen, or answering a phone by holding it up to your cheek."
Sounds great, right? Here’s a friendly reminder that the Onyx is only a prototype at this stage. For you gadget junkies, the good news is that Synaptics plans to market the device to mobile phone carriers by the end of this year. Link.

--Original post taken from

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

SanDisk Sansa e280 8+2GB Music Player

The Sansa e280 has 8GB of internal storage coupled with a microSD slot, which allows another 2GB of space for a total of 10GB. Aimed squarely at the iPod Nano, the e280 will be priced at $249—the same price was a 4GB iPod Nano.
In addition to the e280 being released, Sansa is also lowering prices of its 2, 4 and 6GB players up to 30%, for an across the board slash. Check out our previous coverage of Sansa players to get a feel of what they can do

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ek titli anek titliyan....

Hey guys! Here that famous video I am sure U all will be feeling nostalgic as I did... :)

Sony Vaio 10th Anniversary Special Edition Notebooks

Sony launched their first Vaio computer 10 years ago: the PCV-90, which ran Windows 95 and had a 200-MHz processor. To celebrate the 10th anniversary, they are offering a number of limited edition model notebooks: they will only make 500 of each of the five colorful designs. That's perhaps a blessing, as they look a bit like they were designed by a 10-year old. Trivia time: did you know that the Vaio logo was designed to mimic the transition from analog to digital?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Mobile Learning Jargons

A collection of papers from the 2003, 2004 and 2005 MLearn conferences. Of particular interest are the “Book of Papers from MLearn 2003″ (3.5MB PDF) and “The Use of Computer and Video Games for Learning” (PDF) which outlines health and psycho-social issues surrounding games in schools, provides examples of existing games, discusses how students feel about this type of learning context; and provides recommendations for content creators.

The 2006MLearn conference is being held on October 22-25 in Banff, Alberta (Canada.)

EU M-Learning Project
“Mobile Technologies and Learning,” (PDF) provides a general overview of the European Commission’s m-Learning project. The project site also includes a good discussion of technologies and devices currently in use for learning as well as emulator-based examples (look for the links on the right nav) of some of their applications that target literacy skills. A great example of the work they’re doing is their Healthy for Life project:

“The materials were designed to provide accessible information and support to 40 pregnant teenagers, including those from ethnic minorities, to address their learning and support needs in a health education context, developing their self-confidence and motivation to learn. Close attention was paid to meeting the target group’s needs, following thorough user analysis, to ensure that only subjects of interest to them were dealt with (i.e. labour and birth, sexually transmitted diseases, nutrition, housing and benefits) using appropriate language and attractive illustrations (photo stories and cartoon graphics).”

“MOBIlearn is a worldwide European-led research and development project exploring context-sensitive approaches to informal, problem-based and workplace learning by using key advances in mobile technologies.” Of particular interest on their site is the Public Findings area which includes a variety of resources like “Guideline for Learning/Teaching/Tutoring in a Mobile Environment” and ” Best Practices for Instructional Design and Content Development for Mobile Learning.” The project seems (at first glance) to be a mobile version of the many internet based ‘Open Learning Object Repository’ specification projects.

“On these social and technological premises, the MOBIlearn project aims at improving access to knowledge for selected target users (such as mobile workers and learning citizens), giving them ubiquitous access to appropriate (conceptualized and personalized) learning objects, by linking to the Internet via mobile connections and devices, according to innovative paradigms and interfaces.”

Good luck to them. These projects are always very well meaning but tend to suffer from massive over-engineering of the learning object structure with little thought to the actual content creation or reuse by educators. [Some nice context on the learning object debate here from David Wiley]

Literacy, ICTs and Games
For information about ICT-related literacy and numeracy projects, check out the UK’s CTAD site. There’s also a good overview at “Can ICTs Help Increase Literacy?” with further links to a study by Vancouver based Commonwealth of Learning on ICT use in India and Zambia.

I also recently picked up “What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy” by James Paul Gee which is so far excellent. Not as gimmicky as it many of these types of books can be. As a matter of fact—not gimmicky at all—and has some great discussion of the various types and contexts of literacy.

“When people learn to play video games, they are learning a new literacy. Of course, this is not the way the word “literacy” is normally used…in the modern world, language is not the only important communication system. Today, images, symbols, gra[hs, diagrams, artifacts, and many other visual symbols are particularily significant. Thus the idea of different types of “visual litercy” would sem to be an important one.”

Prensky on Mobile
A nice down to earth discussion of mobile devices for learning from Mark Prensky in “What Can You Learn from a Cell Phone.” (PDF)

“Can cell phones really provide their owners with the knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes that will help them succeed in their schools, their jobs and their lives? I maintain the only correct answer to the “What can they learn” question is “ANYTHING, if we design it right.” There are many different kinds of learning and many processes that we use to learn, but among the most frequent, time-tested, and effective of these are listening, observing, imitating, questioning, reflecting, trying, estimating, predicting, “what-if”-ing and practicing. All of these learning processes can be done through our cell phones. In addition, the phones compliment the short-burst, casual, multi-tasking style of today’s “Digital Native” (PDF) learners.”

A great article for any educator, parent or administrator trying to justify the use of technology in the classroom. There’s more on Mark’s site including a link to “Mobile Phone Imagination” (look for issues #14) from the Vodaphone Reciever magazine.
For those interested in some of the issues facing teachers who are currently using handhelds in the classroom, check out Learning at Hand, a resource blog for teachers using PDAs and Treos in the classroom. [I always forget that there are lots of teachers doing this. There are also lots of small (sometimes clunky but functional) learning applications for Palm and Pocket PC that help kids simulate scenarios in science, English and maths.]

Some of my favourites include Leonard Low’s Mobile Learning blog (”101 Ideas for Mobile Learning“,) the Finnish MobileED initiative (check out their great examples of students scenarios from South Africa) and Ewan McIntosh who spends his days helping students use technology (including iPods) in the classroom. [Note some recent discussions as well on QR-code usage in education.]

I recently ran into a wonderful research group in the UK by the name of Futurelab.

“A not-for-profit organization, Futurelab is committed to sharing the lessons learnt from our research and development in order to inform positive change to educational policy and practice.”

They do all sorts of interesting stuff (well worth a look!) but in the area of mobile learning they recently published a “Literature Review in Mobile Technologies and Learning” which outlines the key findings of a larger study by the MLearning group at the University of Birmingham.

“learning is mobile in terms of space, ie it happens at the workplace, at home, and at places of leisure; it is mobile between different areas of life, ie it may relate to work demands, self-improvement, or leisure; and it is mobile with respect to time, ie it happens at different times during the day, on working days or on weekends”

Also of interest by FutureLab, “A comparison of young people’s home and school ICT use.” (PDF)

I also bumped into “Language E-Learning on the Move” today from Japan Review

“In Japan, where more people own cell phones than PCs and language education is a huge industry, there is potential for a booming market in mobile e-learning. While education sites aren’t currently moneymakers, more sophisticated content may allow providers to charge more for bite-sized learning.”

The Review incidentally has several other mobile articles including an excerpt from Mimi Ito’s Personal, Portable, Pedestrian and and overview of Japanese mobile media services for journalism students.

And finally, a reading list within a reading list From Learning Light in the UK, a large page of mobile learning resources.

Enjoy! And please let me know if i’m missing something of note. I’ll try to update this list periodically.

[Addendum: As it happens, i’m going to be speaking to a group of Australian teachers about mobile learning next month in an online presentation with Leigh Blackhall for the Australian Flexible Learning Framwork group. They have a very good (and active) mobile learning mailing list (via Moodle.) Education Australia also has quite a few resources on their site.

And a few more resources from the UK. BECTA’s Emerging Technologies for Learning PDF, and this video and PDF presentation from Geoff Stead of CTAD (mentioned earlier) entitled Benefits and Hazards of Teaching with Mobile Devices.]

original post written by: Keitai

The Future with Flash Lite

An open discussion today on the Mobile Games Blog about the future of mobile gaming and Flash Lite. A few notable comments…

“Today, we want to know what you think about Flash Lite as a technology entering the market of the mobile phone. With Symbian distribution being hindered by locks on S60 3rd edition models, and flash being widely used by webdesigners, the market might face a radical change where a lot of freeware might hit consumer phones.

…[Anders Borg] As Flash Lite is only provided by one entity there’s a big chance implementations of Flash Lite will be considerably less fragmented than ditto for Java ME….I don’t look very positively at Sun’s open source intentions with Java ME (rather they should take over the responsibility for Java ME deliveries completely), as that will make it even more fragmented, and Flash Lite then has all possibilities to become the choice for graphics-intensive phone applications….

….[Kyle] The innovations occuring in Flash gaming are taking place rapidly while innovation in mobile gaming is as slow as can be. Perhaps opening up the market will foster a more competitive environment which will push the industry forward…

…[Pascal] The problems with flash lite will remain the same as it is with j2me: alot of home made content, and some of that “crap” is sold commercially scaring away buyers. I can only hope that it will open up new ways of selling content, and more awareness of content for phones, so that people will buy more and publishers/developers can sell their content easier (not losing revenue shares left and right)….

One of the more interesting conversations i’ve heard in a while–especially with the Java open source annoucement last week. There’s room for lots more comments so join in!