Aiptek shows off a combo projector/battery pack for iPhone 5 available starting this month (Video)

Aiptek, the company behind a number of mobile projector products that we’ve seen in the past, is about to release a brand new pico projector for iPhone 5 and we just got our first look at the product during the ShowStoppers IFA event in Berlin. Texas Instruments, who provides the DLP technology powering the product’s projection experience, was on hand tonight at ShowStoppers showing off the new “MobileCinema i55.” It’s similar to other pico projector cases Aiptek has launched in the past, but this time provides a couple new features on top of built-in Lightning connector support for the iPhone 5. We went hands-on and have a video of the product in action below the fold.  Read more

Apple’s AuthenTec sells off embedded security solutions division, keeps the fingerprint & NFC tech

In July, a 10K filing showed that Apple acquired security company AuthenTec for $356 million. At the time, we noted Apple was presumably after the company’s various fingerprint-related technologies, while companies such as Samsung, Motorola, and others entered in deals with AuthenTec for its secure VPNs, encryption algorithms, and security-related products. Today, NFCWorld (via TechCrunch) reported Authentec has now sold its embedded security solutions division to NFC company Inside Secure. The sale would seem to indicate that Apple was indeed specifically after the company’s fingerprint and NFC solutions:

The sale suggests that Apple’s interest in acquiring Authentec lies with the company’s innovative combined fingerprint and NFC solution, which is not part of the division being acquired by Inside Secure, and will lead to renewed speculation that Apple will include NFC in future iPhones and other devices…. NFC and contactless chip provider Inside Secure is to acquire the embedded security systems division of Authentec, the fingerprint and secure solutions specialist which Apple agreed to buy for US$356m in July 2012. The transaction is valued at up to US$48m.

To get a hold of AuthenTec’s Embedded Security Solutions Division, Inside Secure will reportedly pay $38 million in cash and another $10 million “subject to completion of certain post-closing transactions.” Products the division is responsible for are currently used in hundreds of millions of mobile and networking devices worldwide, with customers ranging from Samsung, Nokia, LG, and Motorola to HBO, Cisco, and Texas Instruments. Last year, the division brought in sales of $25.3 million. Read more

TI chip in Lightning cable could allow iOS devices to save electricity when charging

There has been a lot of controversy over Apple’s new Lightning connector introduced with the iPhone 5 and refreshed iPod lineups. Perhaps the biggest source of frustration for users and accessory manufacturers alike is the inability, so far, to produce official third-party products using the new standard. Apple has yet to update accessory makers with changes to its ‘Made For iPad/iPhone/iPod (MFi)’ policies. This will apparently require approval of facilities manufacturing Lightning products, but according to reports, it will not come until at least next month.

For accessory makers wishing to produce unofficial Lightning products, that process has proven difficult thanks to chips Apple has built into the connector thought to include security features. Despite reports that the security features have already been reverse engineered, and one or two third-party products on the market using the original Lightning cables from Apple’s suppliers, we have yet to experience a flood of Lightning products available to consumers. We also did not know exactly what tech Apple is including in these chips, something that we get a better look at today courtesy of a detailed teardown from Chipworks.

Once inside, Chipworks found a TI chip labeled “BQ2025″ (alongside a handful of others) that could possibly include security features. The chip isn’t listed on TI’s website, but four similar chips are:

However, TI does have published datasheets on the BQ2022, BQ2023, BQ2024, and BQ2026. These four chips are cataloged on TI’s website as battery fuel gauges, but they are not identical, with three of them being serial EPROMs and one of them being a battery monitor IC… All use a single wire SDQ interface (TI’s proprietary serial communications protocol), and all have some basic security features such as CRC generation. So, it is certainly likely that the BQ2025 does have some security implemented on it. It would also seem likely that it includes an SDQ

Another possibility is that the chip is being used to better conserve electricity. For example, the cable could stop drawing electricity once the connected iOS device is fully charged to provide the obvious benefit of saving power. According to research from Opower, the iPhone 5 costs a mere 41 cents annually to charge once per day. However, the focus might simply be a greener, more energy efficient product.

In terms of the security features, Chipworks noted this is “the first secure cable” it has seen with this type of security device. It also speculated that, in terms of Lightning connectors, “piracy is not a concern” for Apple:

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Assertive Display tech demoed on iPad at IFA- intelligently adjusts pixels in realtime to make content viewable in sunlight

As part the International keynote presentations at IFA this year, AMD exec and president of the HSA foundation, Phil Rogers, took the stage to give an update on the current state of the not-for-profit alliance. For those of you unfamiliar with the foundation, HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture), is described as “a heterogeneous compute ecosystem, rooted in industry standards, for combining scalar processing on the CPU with parallel processing on the GPU while enabling high bandwidth access to memory and high application performance at low power consumption.”

While the addition of Samsung, among other partners Texas Instruments, ARM, AMD, and Imagination Technologies, was the big news of the day for most, a short demo by partner Apical was what really caught our attention.

Apical’s “Assertive Display” technology is already present in a few devices, such as Sharp’s AQUOS PHONE SH-01D, but during its demo for the HSA keynote, Apical showed off the tech working on an iPad…

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Microsoft to build version of Windows for ARM processors?

Bloomberg today reports what would have seemed unthinkable a year ago.  Microsoft is building a version of its Windows OS (not Phone 7) for the ARM processor design, the very same that powers Apple’s lineup of iOS devices.

The operating system would give Microsoft another way to attack the market for tablets and phones, where it’s lost ground to Apple Inc. and Google Inc. ARM chips — made by Qualcomm Inc., Texas Instruments Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. — are used in most smartphones, as well as Apple’s best-selling iPad. A full-featured version of Windows for ARM chips is the best way for Microsoft to make a dent in the iPad’s lead, said Robert Breza, a Minneapolis-based analyst for RBC Capital Markets. While Windows is dominant in the personal-computer market, it hasn’t parlayed that into tablet success yet. “They’ve got to come back with a product that’s better than ‘me too’ and is equal if not better in features,” Breza said. He has an “outperform” rating on Microsoft’s stock, which he doesn’t own. “A lot of tablets today are inferior to PCs.”

Microsoft became a licensee of the ARM architecture earlier this year but at the time it seemed to be for embedded devices such as the Zune.  Apple is also an ARM licensee and builds its A4 lineup of chips using ARM designs.

Is this really a good move for Microsoft?  The problem with Windows 7 on tablets hasn’t really been an Intel problem necessarily.  Whatever the case, this has to be bad news for Intel/AMD who now may see competition from ARM processors like the Nvidia Tegra 2 in netbooks running Windows.

Another Question: Will Apple port Mac OS to ARM? Read more