10 months ago

Day 5 - IFA International

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PRODUCT TRENDS KEEPING AN EYE ON THE TECWATCH HALL CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGY POINTS TOWARDS FUTURE PRODUCTS The TecWatch Hall once again features a fascinating array of technology, some of it fresh out of the R&D laboratory. It offers a glimpse of future lifestyles by showcasing the latest technological advancements that we can expect to affect our lives some years from now. One area yet to benefit from genuine connectivity is mobile phone and PCs. In the TecWatch Hall, Fraunhofer Institute demonstrate a solution for this. “Our MashWeb system brings together the best of traditional TV, mobile phones and computers,” said Heiko Pfeffer, Group Manager, Future Applications & Media, Fraunhofer Institute. “Our ambition was to unify all three screens, but that is not easy because you have three different operating systems on PCs plus six on mobile phones. Our solution was to use the internet to bring them all together. We created an application that allows people to play games together, like Poker, using the mobile phone or PC to join the game by taking a picture of themselves that appears on the TV screen alongside their pot of money. The cards then appear on either the PC or mobile and they start to play. It’s an ideal way to play games at a distance during advertising breaks, for instance.” The application only needs a Java script enabled browser and a TV connected to the internet. It works on 90% of mobile phones, although not, for the moment at least, on the mobile version of Internet Explorer. MashWeb has other applications in terms of uniting PCs and mobile phones: “Imagine that you are looking up a restaurant on your PC and then you want to send the information and the picture of the restaurant to the person with whom you are going to have dinner,” Pfeffer said. “Normally you would be able to send that to a mobile phone without retyping all the information but MashWeb allows you to send the map plus picture directly.” Another feature is the role playing game Movie Star where a group of people can act out a scene from a movie, each one taking a different role. When the scene has been recorded, the system automatically edits together the separate roles and replays the scene to the participants.” Another Fraunhofer innovation that is straight out of development is the TA2 Audio Communication Engine, a system that enables audiovisual communication between people separated by distance and even by time. “In real time people can talk as if they were in the same room through the use of a 360 degree microphone and software which adds ambience, giving the feel of sharing the same space,” said Stefanie Frank, Marketing and Communications, Audio & Multimedia. “It’s totally hands free and accurately tracks where someone is in the room and shifts the sound to the left or right or backwards and forwards accordingly. It will work with any speaker system but obviously a surround sound system reflects the audio tracking more accurately.” The TA2 system also offers an additional time-shift facility for people separated by time zones. The user separated from his or her family can record a message for other family members or friends using the ambient enhancement to add presence, which loved ones can then play back when convenient. “There are also some potentially very exciting applications for the system in terms of MMOG (massive multiplayer online gaming) which are starting to be explored by games makers,” Frank said. “We’ve licensed the technology to German games company Ravensburger so I’m sure that we can expect to see gaming moving in some exciting and unexpected new directions in the next couple of years.” In the same space IBM is demonstrating its Smarter Home technology that combines the advantages of continuous connectivity to make the promise of a genuinely smart home a reality. “From increased entertainment choices to highly important services like medical monitoring, remote security monitoring and even energy management, we’re looking at a range of services that pretty much pay for themselves through increased efficiency,” said Bruce Anderson, General Manager, Global Electronics Industry, IBM. Hall 5.3 IFA International • Tuesday, 8 th September 2009 19

IFA International