01-13 CES 2018: It is coming an end, but the stories keep coming: Samsung showcasing privately its foldable phone; ZTE plans to launch 5G phone in US market early next year; etc.

Chipsets

[CES2018] Plume Design and MediaTek have announced pre-integration, testing and qualification of Plume Adaptive WiFi cloud control and management capabilities into a broad set of MediaTek platforms. ODMs / OEMs can now offer turn-key, cloud-managed, premium Wi-Fi to their ISP customers using MediaTek Systems-on-Chips (SoCs). (Android Headlines, NDTV, Business Wire)

[CES2018] Intel chief Brian Krzanich outlined the company’s response to the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities while reassuring customers that his company views security as “an ongoing priority”. (CN Beta, Intel, Apple Insider)

Touch Display

Leading China-based smartphone vendors, including Huawei, OPPO and Xiaomi, plan to adopt mini LED-backlit panels as an alternative to AMOLED for smartphones to be launched in 2H18 and have asked Taiwan-based makers to start producing mini LED backlighting in June 2018, according to Digitimes. (Digitimes, press, Apple Insider, CN Beta)

According to ZTE vice president of marketing Jeff Yee, the company continues to make what it calls affordable-premium phones – the large phones that cost less than USD200 that can be found at low-cost carriers like Boost — and says it remains dedicated to creating a line of foldable phones.  (Engadget, Phone Arena, IT Home)

School of Electrical Engineering has designed a structure of OLEDs compatible to fiber and used a dip-coating method in a three-dimensional structure of fibers. Through this method, the team successfully developed efficient OLEDs that are designed to last a lifetime and are still equivalent to those on planar substrates. (CN Beta, Eurekalert)

[CES2018] It took 2 years, but Sensel finally managed to start shipping the Morph. The system is essentially a trackpad, featuring the company’s proprietary Pressure Grid technology. The technology is capable of detecting force 2g~5kg force sensing, with tracking accuracy of around 0.1mm. (TechCrunch, Sensel)

WIPO has released Samsung’s flexible display patent filed on 14 Jun 2017. The patent has a sketches of a foldable phone, which is being capable of bending across its center, also hinting at the presence of a heart rate monitor on the device. (CN Beta, Daily Mail, IB Times, LetsGoDigital, Android Headlines)

[CES2018] Samsung has unveiled its foldable smartphone, both in-folding and out-folding phones, privately to select clients. Samsung has also shared the launch schedule, including production from the end 2018.  (Daily Mail, The Investor, iFeng)

[CES2018] Visteon has showcased the newest LCD panels that will replace the analog gauges in instrument clusters. Visteon’s exhibition went from the mundane, a set of normal LCD panels, to the truly cutting edge, a plastic OLED technology that promises low energy use, bright colors and a very thin form factor. (CN Beta, CNET)

Huawei patent for a touch-sensitive bezel for smartwatches is approved by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The edge of the watch will have eight zones that can send various commands, when triggered in various combinations. It will allow Huawei to adds extra controls without the need for more buttons. (GSM Arena, WIPO, LetsGoDigital, 163, iFeng)

LG Display (LGD) and other flat panel makers in Japan and China have been gearing up efforts to develop OLED technology aiming to compete with Samsung Electronics for orders from Apple, according to Digitimes. (Digitimes, press, Ubergizmo, Apple Insider, CN Beta)

Sensory

Google has quietly acquired a U.K. startup Redux that focuses on technology that turns surfaces such as phone displays into speakers. Redux raised USD5M in Mar 2017. (Android Authority, Bloomberg, Yicai, CN Beta)

[CES2018] Smart fabric company Xenoma is showing off a set of smart pajamas that can be worn by patients in a hospital, with a specific focus on dementia patients. The idea is that, rather than confining people to rooms or keeping them under observation, the clothing can do the job automatically. (The Verge, Engadget, BGR, CZTV)

[CES2018] The Soundskrit device can easily track 2 separate voices speaking from different directions simultaneously, quickly providing independent recordings and transcripts of each one. It could just as easily ignore one voice in order to hear another better, or focus on accepting sound from a single direction, such as in front of a camera.  (TechCrunch, Loooker)

Material

Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology has developed a new self-hearing material called Elastomer, which can restore dents and cracks within 30 minutes. Elastomer is capable of healing itself all the while maintaining enough tensile strength to be commercially viable. (Android Authority, ET News)

Connectivity

Samsung’s millimeter wave-based technology that is currently being tested as part of the company’s 5G trials with Verizon is working “much better than expected,” according to Magnus Ojert, the company’s VP and General Manager of the Verizon account. (Android Headlines, TechRadar, Business Wire, Fierce Wireless, ICCSZ)

Encrypted messaging app Signal said it has partnered with Microsoft to encrypt messages on the technology giant’s online communications service, Skype. Microsoft is the latest to join a growing list of companies including Alphabet’s Google and Facebook to encrypt their messaging platforms. (Apple Insider, Skype, Signal, Reuters)

[CES2018] ZTE Corp. aims to launch a smartphone with faster 5G internet capabilities in 2019, according to Lixin Cheng, chief executive officer of the company’s mobile device business. (Android Headlines, Bloomberg, Mobile World Live, Tencent, iFeng)

Smartphones

LG Electronics CEO Cho Seong-jin says the company plans to unveil new smartphones “when it is needed,” rather than to maintain competition with rival devices. LG plans to retain existing models longer by, for instance, unveiling more variant models of the G series or V series. (Android Authority, Android Central, Korea Herald, IT Home)

Manu Kumar Jain, Xiaomi’s Managing Director, has announced that the company sold over 1M units of the Redmi 5A in less than a month. (Android Authority, iFeng, Yesky)

After AT&T cancels the deal with Hauwei, Verizon is reportedly facing political pressure to cancel the launch of a Huawei smartphone later in 2018.  (Tencent, Android Police, CNET, 9to5Google)

A Chinese court in Shenzhen has ruled today in favor of Huawei, issuing a ban on Samsung from infringing the firm’s wireless communication technology through manufacturing and selling products that use the patent. (Gizmo China, TechNode, The Paper)

HMD Global has trademarked “Asha” with the EU Intellectual Property Office. Asha was a lineup of feature phones that often featured a touchscreen and a focus on online services – Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. (GSM Arena, Europa, Love Nokia, iFeng, Sohu)

[CES2018] Li Dongsheng, chairman and CEO of TCL Group has stressed that TCL will not give up the mobile communications business, he is absolutely confident the company will do a good job. In addition, he has disclosed that in the future TCL will also focus on the extension of existing industries, acquisitions or equity participation in some companies; the company will establish artificial intelligence (AI) institutes in 2018. (CN Beta, Sina)

A law bill introduced into the US House of Representatives would, if passed, ban U.S. agencies from using stuff made by Chinese mobile giants ZTE and Huawei. The proposed legislation, drafted by Rep Mike Conaway (R-TX), would bar government staffers from purchasing or operating any hardware, software, or services from either company or any of their subsidiaries.  (CN Beta, The Register, SlashGear, Android Authority, TechCrunch, Congress)

[CES2018] Moviphone is announced – 5.5” FHD display, MediaTek MT6750V processor, rear 13MP + front 8MP cameras, 3 / 4GB RAM, 32 / 64GB storage, Android 7.0, 50 lumens projection module built-in, 4000mAh battery, USD599. (Android Authority, Gizmo China, Time, Sohu, ZOL, IT Home)

PCs / Tablets

The European Union will spend EUR1B (USD1.2B) to try to catch up to China, the U.S. and Japan in supercomputing. The goal of the project is for Europe to acquire two “world-class” supercomputers, capable of at least a hundred million billion calculations per second, and at least 2 mid-range systems, capable of tens of millions of billions of calculations per second, by 2020. The EuroHPC initiative was launched in Mar 2017. (CN Beta, Bloomberg, Inside HPC)

Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs (desktop, notebook, and workstation) totaled 70.6M units in 4Q17, recording slightly positive (0.7%) year-on-year growth, according to IDC. 2017 ended with an annual shipment volume of 259.5M units, which represents a year-over-year decline of 0.2%. This makes 2017 the most stable year the market has seen since 2011. (Liliputing, IDC, press, CN Beta, iFeng)

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 71.6M units in 4Q17, a 2% decline from 4Q16, according to Gartner. For the year, 2017 PC shipments surpassed 262.5M units, a 2.8% decline from 2016. It was the 13th consecutive quarter of declining global PC shipments, as well as the 6th year of annual declines. However, Gartner analysts said there were some signs for optimism. (Gartner, press, 163, Tencent)

Wearables

[CES2018] Philips has unveiled SmartSleep, which company says that is the “world’s first and only clinically proven wearable” for customers who are looking to improve deep sleep quality. It basically plays white noise to help user sleep. (Ubergizmo, Philips, OfWeek, Sohu)

[CES2018] Sony announces 3 new in-ear wireless sports headphones. The WF-SP700N is wire-free, while the WI-SP600N and WI-SP500 feature neckband designs and stronger battery life. All have IPX4 splashproof rating and Sony’s Extra Bass feature. For WF-SP700N, with a future update it will deliver quick access to Google Assistant. (Pocket-Lint, NDTV, CNET, The Verge, iFeng, Baijiahao, Sina)

[CES2018] Vuzix, a Rochester, New York-based display provider, has launched Vuzix Blade. It has partnered with Amazon to bring Alexa integration to the device. Vuzix plans to deliver a developer version of the product soon, with a consumer version coming in 2Q18. The price now is USD1,000, but hopes to bring it down to less than USD500 with future generations. (The Verge, Gizmodo, Time, Sina)

Internet of Things

[CES2018] Ford CEO Jim Hackett plans to roll out a new partnership with logistics company Postmates for autonomous delivery services and plans other initiatives meant to reposition the automaker as a mobility company. (TechCrunch, Fortune, CNBC, Reuters)

[CES2018] The automaker Kia has announced that Google Assistant will perform some vehicle functions on a handful of its 2018 models. The automaker presented its new UVO Agent for Google Assistant and Google Home-enabled devices. The UVO infotainment systems on the new Niro PHEV, Soul EV, Optima PHEV and K900 models are compatible with the agent. (The Verge, Tencent, Qianzhan)

General Motors (GM) is seeking U.S. government approval for a fully autonomous car – one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal – to enter the automaker’s first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019. (Engadget, TechCrunch, The Verge, Reuters, GM, Sina, 163)

Waymo is bringing its self-driving cars back to San Francisco streets for testing. Waymo has confirmed that it is indeed bringing test vehicles back to one of the first spots where it ever tested AVs in the first place. (Engadget, CN Beta, The Verge, TechCrunch)

New smart speaker ownership data from NPR and Edison Research confirms the impact the 2017 holiday season had on smart speaker ownership in the U.S. Now, one-in-six Americans (16%)  or around 39M people own a voice-activated smart speaker, up 128% from Jan 2017. (TechCrunch, National Public Media, report, Tencent)

Fintech

Kodak and WENN Digital, in a licensing partnership, have announced the launch of the KODAKOne image rights management platform and KODAKCoin, a photo-centric cryptocurrency to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management. (TechCrunch, Kodak, Coin Desk, Financial Times)

Chongqing Municipal Government has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Alibaba and Ant Financial to set up the Alibaba Regional Center in Chongqing to build “Smart Chongqing” based on the “city brain” that involves 3 major areas of economic development, social governance and livelihood services. (CN Beta, Fonow)

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