Future Tech That Will Show Up in Your Next Gadgets
We’ve always got our eye out for the latest technology trends like metal oxide backplanes, new MEMS sensors and applications of nanotechnology. Here’s a roundup of some new technology we have started to see in gadgets currently on the market and some we expect to see in future gadgets.
Waterproof Nano CoatingsIn order to make a smartphone waterproof you used to have to put it inside a watertight case. Now you can send your phone to a company like Liquipel where they use a vapor deposition process that “coats” the outside and inside of a device with a nanoparticle material creating a “hydrophobic” waterproof barrier that doesn’t interfere with the operation of the device. Other companies like HzO, Neverwet and P2i offer similar nano-polymer coatings that repel water. There is a standard in place from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) referred to as IPX7 which requires a device to withstand immersion in at least 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. Sony currently offers the Xperia Z and Samsung recently announced a version of the Galaxy S4 that are both IPX7 compliant and presumably use some sort of nano coating to make that possible. We expect to see future devices come with water repellent nano coatings.
New Display Backplanes Offer Higher Pixel Density and FlexibilityMost all of today’s LCD displays use a backplane made of thin-film transistors (TFTs) that are used to turn pixels on and off. As the demand increases for smaller and denser pixels for products like Apple’s phones and tablets with Retina displays, display manufacturers have turned to polycrystalline or polysilicon backplanes which work well enough for small screens but not as well in larger screens like HDTV sets. Fortunately, new backplane technologies have recently emerged that use metal oxides like Indium, Gallium, and Zinc oxides called IGZO by Sharp, one of the leading companies in this field. CBRITE, a competitor to Sharp offers what they consider to be a superior metal oxide backplane that they claim offers higher performance at a lower cost and similar to IGZO, can produce displays with pixel densities well above 400 ppi as well as flexible displays that can wrap around objects as a watch would wrap around your wrist. One other significant benefit of these new backplanes is lower power. They can also be used to make large screen OLED devices more practical. Samsung showed some possible applications for flexible displays at their CES press conference and Sharp has been showing an 8K, IGZO TV at shows as well. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the rumored Apple iWatch using a flexible metal oxide display or one based on Corning’s super thin and flexible Willow Glass. We also expect to see the display industry move to metal oxide backplanes for everything from tablets, smartphones and smartwatches to giant 4K UHDTV sets.
Super-Fast LTE Advanced Coming SoonThere’s a newer faster version of the wireless LTE standard called LTE Advanced that promises to increase data rates significantly over the current LTE or 4G network. Although U.S. carriers are in the process of upgrading their service, the word is it will be available later this year or early next year. There are many new features in LTE Advanced including MIMO antenna technology, heterogeneous networks (HetNets), spectrum diversity with easier handoffs to Wi-Fi networks and carrier aggregation that will translate into higher capacity, more reliable, and higher throughput networks. The latest rumor out of Cupertino indicates that a new version of the iPhone could come with LTE Advanced offering download speeds on the order of 150Mbps or twice as fast as the current version. An iPhone equipped with LTE would also help speed the deployment by the carriers. Samsung announced an LTE-A version of the Galaxy S4 and we’re sure LTE-A will be one of the must-have features on the next wave of smartphones.
Futuristic UI with HTML 5 Development FrameworkA company named Famo.us has been developing a framework for developers who want to easily create a 3D interface that resembles something out of the movie Minority Report. Despite the reluctance among developers to fully embrace HTML 5 as an alternative or even a complement to native apps like those for iOS or Android, we think developers would be wise to check out the framework available from Famo.us. We also hope to see Famo.us incorporated into devices like tablets or smartphones that could benefit from a fast 3D interface complete with a speedy physics engine. You can see a demo of the Famo.us interface here, note how fast and fluid the 3D images move. You can also check out famo.us Stress Test Demo for another look. We think this could represent the next generation user interface.
New MEMS Sensors Will Add New FeaturesWhether you know that MEMS stands for microelectromechanical systems or not, if you own a smartphone or tablet you’ve experienced what they can do. MEMS is a nanotechnology that produces microsensors and microactuators that have been used to create tiny accelerometers, gyroscopes and other sensors inside integrated circuits. These are the components that helped make smartphones and tablets such a huge success. This year the MEMS industry thinks a pressure sensor that can precisely measure altitude (along with GPS data), will help make things like indoor navigation practical. Companies like the BodyMedia, which was recently acquired by Jawbone, plans to add an electrocardiogram (ECG) and fluid volume (hydration) measurement to its fitness device that currently measures body temperature, ambient temperature and galvanic skin response (for accurate calorie measurements) in addition to inertial sensors like accelerometers. MEMS will continue to offer new features in future gadgets.

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