Larger Screen Devices
Global smartphone sales of $96bn set a new Q1 record as 4G ramps
In the first quarter of 2015, global smartphone unit demand increased +7 percent, compared to the same period last year. Sales reached 310m units, with growth down from +19 percent year-on-year in Q4 2014. This slowdown was caused by a year-on-year decline in demand for smartphones in China and Developed Asia, down – 14 percent and – 5 percent, respectively Smartphone sales value in Western Europe declined on a year-on-year basis for the first time in Q1 2015, dragged down by Spain and France. As smartphone penetration nears saturation point, both countries are expected to see a slowdown in smartphone unit growth this year compared to 2014. In Central Europe, the macroeconomic situation in Russia has significantly impacted sales. As a result, GfK forecasts that 2015 smartphone demand in the region will grow more slowly than Western Europe for the first time since 2010.
Kevin Walsh, director of trends and forecasting at GfK comments, “The weakness in China was caused by a significant slowdown in 3G demand, which was not offset by 4G growth. We forecast China to return to growth in the second half of the year, driven by a continued 4G ramp-up."
Security in a Smart World
When used properly, digital data may be of high benefit
However, electronic processing also facilitates data abuse. For this reason, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the FZI Research Center for Information Technology develop holistic approaches to enhancing intrinsic security:
NurseEye: Digital Fall Detection in Compliance with Data Protection Legislation
It happens quickly: A patient at the hospital or nursing home falls on the corridor, no help is in sight. In such cases, the “NurseEye” video monitoring system might help. The system makes recordings of outdoor areas, corridors, or staircases and evaluates the images. If a fall is detected, NurseEye automatically issues an alarm to the nearest medical staff member, who then looks at the situation on the smartphone, communicates with the patient via the video system, and takes the correct measures. During normal operation, data protection is ensured: Only those images are stored, on which the software detects a fall. All other video data are deleted immediately. NurseEye was developed at the Competence Center for Applied Security Technology (KASTEL) by the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies, and Image Exploitation (IOSB) and KIT.
Automatic Simultaneous Translation
Language barriers often prevent free exchange of information. Spoken contents in particular, such as lectures, speeches, or internet videos, require a minimum knowledge of the respective foreign language. At KIT, the first automatic computer-based simultaneous translation service worldwide has been applied in selected lectures for two years now. The lecture translator automatically records the words spoken by the lecturer, transcribes the text into a written version, and translates it into English in real time. Students can follow the lecture via their PC or mobile phone. Due to its grammar, German has been considered a big challenge for a long time. The prototype system developed by KIT masters this challenge reliably now and can be operated regularly during the lecture.
Between Innovation Potential and Protection of Privacy
Smartphones, social networks, and commodity items connected to the internet – more and more sources produce constantly growing data volumes. How can politics, industry, and actors in society use big data in a positive way? And how can the technology be brought in line with the protection of personal rights? These questions are studied by scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Münster under the project ABIDA – Assessing Big Data. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with more than EUR 6 million for a period of four years.
Fitness wristbands inform their wearers about vital functions and document their state of health. When linked properly, such data may be used as a basis for novel medical studies and, hence, new therapies. However, there also is the risk of third parties taking possession of the data for surveillance or commercial purposes.
High-quality Fuels from Residual Biomass
"Another Module for the Energiewende"
The bioliq® pilot plant at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is running successfully along the complete process chain. All stages of the process have now been interconnected: Flash pyrolysis, high-pressure entrained flow gasification, hot gas cleaning, and synthesis. bioliq® converts residual biomass into ecofriendly and engine-compatible synthetic fuels. “This is another important module for the success of the Energiewende,” said the President of KIT, Professor Holger Hanselka, during the commissioning ceremony. The pilot project funded by the Federation, State, and EU was implemented by KIT in cooperation with several industry partners. The investment totals EUR 64 million.
Undersecretary of State with the Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), Peter Bleser, emphasized: “As the bioliq® process is linked with decentralized production processes, it has the potential to enhance the creation of value in rural areas and produce both biofuels and basic chemical products for a biomass-based economy.”