11-19: Nokia confirms coming back to smartphone industry in 2017; ZTE Corp has won a further reprieve to 27 Feb. 2017 on export restrictions granted by the U.S. government; etc.

Chipset

Within just 2 months acquiring Nervana, Intel is integrating the deep learning startup’s technology into its product roadmap. The new Nervana platform will be the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio for AI. (CN Beta, ZDNet, Slash Gear, Forbes)

intel-nervana-ai-chipset

After acquiring Basis in 2014 and Recon in 2015, now Intel is reportedly planning to abandon wearables market entirely after laying off most of its staff—Intel’s New Devices Group (NDG) is facing “a large number of layoffs.” (Android Authority, TechCrunch, Leiphone, 36Kr)

Apple is limiting the performance of Verizon / Sprint units with Qualcomm modems to keep parity with AT&T / T-Mobile versions running Intel’s new communication package. (Apple Insider, Bloomberg, Recode, TechWeb, Sohu, CN Beta)

bloomberg-apple-qualcomm-intel

Touch Display

Apple has acknowledged a significant flaw that causes touchscreens to fail in some iPhone 6 Plus smartphones, dubbed “touch disease”, claiming the problem can be triggered when devices are dropped multiple times. The company said that users could pay USD149 to fix the issue, if their phones still work and don’t have a broken or cracked screen. (Kit Guru, CNET, CNMO, The Guardian, Apple, Sohu)

Flexible OLED technology and VR headset developer Royole announced that it received a USD80M series Pre-D funding from the Warmsun Holding Group. Royole raised around USD280M since its inception in 2012 – and the current valuation is set at around USD3B. (OLED-Info, Royale, Sina)

royale-car-flexible-display

Camera

A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh students found 15 selfie-takers died in 2014, 39 in 2015 and 73 died in the first 8 months of 2016. They then trained an artificial intelligence system to look at 3,155 annotated selfies collected on Twitter and give a prediction of whether or not a selfie was likely dangerous or not. (CN Beta, BBC, Technology Review, Digital Trends)

selfie-casualties

Hitachi has announced the development of a camera technology that can capture video images without using a lens and adjust focus after image capture by using a film imprinted with a concentric-circle pattern instead of a lens. This camera technology makes it possible to make a camera lighter and thinner since a lens is unnecessary. (CN Beta, Hitachi, CNET, Japan Times, Xinhuanet)

hitachi-lensless-camera

Sensory

University of Colorado Boulder and Northwestern University have developed a small, soft, and wearable acoustic sensor that can measure vibrations in the human body, monitor the heart health, and detect spoken words. (CN Beta, New Atlas, AZO Sensors, Digital Trends)

acoustic-sensor

Microvision aims to break into the mass OEM market with STMicroelectronics. Microvision’s always-in-focus laser projector is so tiny and cheap that any smartphone can afford to add it and for inexpensive VR glasses that anyone can afford. (EE Times, Photonics, EEPW)

microvision-always-in-focus-laser

While reiterating the AAC Technologies strong record on securing payment, managing director Richard Mok noted that AAC would not start on any new projects until LeEco had settled its bills. He did not reveal the exact amount that LeEco still owes to AAC, however. He cannot rule out legal action if it takes too long. (CN Beta, Asia Nikkei)

aac-richard-mok

Biometrics

Facebook has acquired a facial recognition startup FacioMetrics to help bolster its photo and video ambitions. It was started by Carnegie Mellon students last year and it specialized in using machine learning algorithms to let smartphones analyze faces in real time through the frame of a camera. (TechNews, VentureBeat, The Verge, 163, 91.com)

Connectivity

Verizon has acquired SocialRadar, a mapping start-up founded by Blackboard that promises to provide its users with far more accurate location data for businesses – down to where exactly a door is. (TechCrunch, Streetwise, Sina)

verizon-acquires-socialradar

 

Smartphones

According to Gartner, 3Q16 worldwide sales of smartphones grew by 5.4% on year, reaching 373M units. Samsung has suffered its worst decline. 3 Chinese vendors — Huawei, OPPO and vivo — together accounted for 21% of the smartphones sold to end users worldwide in 3Q16. (Android Headlines, Gartner, press, data, Sina, 36Kr)

gartner-3q16-smartphone

As China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have offered subsidies for purchasing smartphones to promote 4G subscriptions, 2016 smartphone shipments to the China market are expected to reach about 500M units, growing 15% on year, according to Sigmaintell Consulting. China Mobile’s 4G subscribers will take up 61% of all of its mobile communication subscribers in 2016 and it will rise to 80% in 2017. However, smartphone shipments in the China market in 2017 will decrease to 480~490M units mainly due to decreasing subsidies. (Digitimes, press, Laoyoaba, My Drivers)

Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray polled 134 U.S. Apple stores and found that just 47% of iPhone 7 models were in stock. While the 4.7” iPhone 7 has 91% availability, just 3% of 5.5” iPhone 7 Plus models were available in stores. Supplies are even more constrained in China, where iPhone availability is just 16%— a slight improvement from 12% a month ago. There, Piper Jaffray has been tracking online stock from carrier China Unicom. (Apple Insider, CN Beta)

piperjaffray-apple-iphone-7-plus-availabilty

Nokia is planning to re-enter the smartphone business in 2017. Led by former Nokia execs, HDM will “develop, market and sell Nokia-branded phones and accessories”, while Foxconn is dealing with R&D and manufacturing. HMD has a 10-year exclusive agreement for using the Nokia brand on mobile phones, and it will pour a minimum of EUR500M in marketing in the first 3 years. (Android Headlines, GSM Arena, Trusted Reviews, Business Standard, Tencent, Sina)

nokia-hmd-foxconn nokia-technologies-looking-forward

HP and Microsoft are rumored teaming up to launch a Windows 10 Mobile smartphone in 2017. (Ubergizmo, GSM Arena, Dr Windows)

ZTE Corp has won a further reprieve to 27 Feb. 2017 on export restrictions that were imposed on the company by the U.S. government. (Android Authority, Reuters, 163, iFeng)

Huawei Mate 9 Lite is official – 5.5” FHD 2.5D curved display, Huawei Kirin 655 processor, dual rear 12MP—2MP + 8MP cameras, 3 / 4GB RAM, 32 / 64GB storage, Android 6.0 (EMUI 4.1), 3340mAh battery. (GSM Arena, Gizmo China)

huawei-mate-9-lite

 

Internet of Things

Hyundai is lending EV versions of its IONIQ sedan to ad-supported ride-sharing startup WaiveCar, which will start deploying them in Los Angeles, US. (Engadget, TechCrunch, Donga)

hyundai-waivecar

BMW’s China CEO Olaf Kastner reportedly indicates that the alliance of BMW and Baidu for self-driving car is over because “the development pace and the ideas of the two companies are a little different.” (Android Headlines, Engadget, Reuters, TechCrunch, Sohu, Leiphone)

ZTE smart lock is launched via crowd-funding site on JD.com. It supports fingerprint, password, magnetic card, emergency lock, etc. During crowd-funding period, it costs CNY1999 (original price is CNY2999). (CN Beta, 163)

zte-smart-lock

Feima Robotics, founded by some former executives from Lenovo, launches a commercial drone—J.ME, which is quad-rotor, with dimension of 169×169×70mm, equipped with Sony IMX258 image sensor of 13MP resolution, supporting 4K HD video recording. (CN Beta, iFeng, Sohu)

j-me-drone

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