It is difficult to find information about smartphone audio input testing because the techniques are so uncommon and complicated. Since Allion has conducted audio testing for many years, we have accumulated a body of knowledge and practical experience in audio input testing, including testing of headphone input jacks and built-in microphones. In this article, we present our audio input test methods and some sample test results based on some recent test data.
Many people use smartphones to play music or record sounds. Due to the fast pace of technological change and fierce competition, consumers have high expectations of smartphone audio performance. Audio tests are usually subjective, but Allion applies objective laboratory methods to detect differences in smartphone audio quality.
You have probably heard the term the “Internet of Things”, or its abbreviation “IoT”, but what is it exactly? In recent years, high-tech experts have been declaring its imminent arrival and technology forecasters have been estimating its potential market value in the trillions of dollars. Despite all this, many people do not appreciate the importance of the IoT revolution. To bring greater clarity to this important issue, in this article, we address the following question: What direct impacts will IoT likely have on regular people and how will our lives change as a result?
Photo taking is a popular smartphone activity, as reflected in the rise of the selfie and apps like Instagram, and as a result, camera performance is important to users. As technology advances, camera module specifications steadily improve. At this point, image resolution and feature sets are comparable to those found in consumer-grade digital cameras.
Thanks to the rapid adoption of mobile communication technology, smartphones are now central to our daily lives. At the same time, smartphone manufacturers are constantly seeking innovative ways to differentiate their products in a crowded global marketplace. As a result of this consumer demand and industry innovation, smartphone technology is constantly evolving with new and improved features, such as high-resolution cameras, enhanced touchscreens, and optimized audio. Since consumers are so much more discerning, smartphone vendors must not only upgrade hardware specifications; they must also focus on the user experience.
Another CES has come and gone and, undeniably, wearable technology, in the form of a variety of smart bands, smart watches and even smart glasses, will be absolutely the major focus of CES 2014. Functionally, wearable technology that doesn’t fall into categories, such as smartphone and smart TV with the emphases of software and hardware innovation, is talking about the applications of our daily lives and consumer markets including healthcare and fitness. Wearable technology, started in 2013, is an exploding product category, which we can find whether IT brands or sports brands have announced as the mainstream consumer products in 2014. According to the report from IMS Research (as shown below), 14 million wearable devices were estimated to have been shipped in 2011 with almost $2 billion in revenue. However, the market size and the share are projected to seem significantly different by 2016, when 171 million devices will be shipped to achieve up to $6 billion in revenue.
The applications of wearable technology, related to wireless transmission Bluetooth, data processing and detector sensor, have developed to collect, record and manage the data of user’s breathing, heartbeat, pulse, temperature, blood pressure and other physiological responses, sending to his/her smartphone or cloud service afterwards. Thus, Bluetooth technology especially for Bluetooth 4.0 which is famous for low power consumption and able to run streaming data in the low-energy mode for a long period of time, making Bluetooth 4.0 perfect for wearable technology. To ensure the quality of Bluetooth, the relevant certification process has become the critical issue. As the BQTF (Bluetooth Qualification Test Facility) accredited by Bluetooth SIG, Allion is going to provide the vendors with further assistances in conducting certification process, executing interoperability testing, making debugging analysis and providing real-time consultation service.
With the market saturation of smartphone, wearable devices are expected to hit different market without cutting-edge production technology and cost, and to meet the requirement of user experience and user scenario. We can say that CES 2014 could be also called “The wearable technology show” where many IT brands and sports brands including Sony, LG, Nike and Adidas have launched their own wearable devices.
The Smart Band, launched by Sony Mobile, comes in rubber material with the core to connect with the smartphone and tablet PC apps via Bluetooth. The follows of Smart Band could be the life-tracking of heart rate, pedometer and even for marathon. As shown above, Smart Band incorporates with a removable core which is capable of tracking your motion anywhere. Because Smart Band has no built-in display screen, the control and the interaction of smartphone becomes extremely important when users receive calls, messages and listen to the music.
LG’s Lifeband Touch is also a fitness tracker with built-in OLED touch screen by using Bluetooth to connect with smartphone to keep track of time, heart rate and related fitness records. Like Sony’s Smart Band, Lifeband Touch offers the basic features, including incoming call notifications, music playback and so on. In particular, LG’s innovative HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) earphones are not only for listening, but also feature PerformTek sensor technology which can more accurate measure blood flow signals, metabolic rate and maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) rate.
Because wearable technology is on the verge of becoming a multi-billion dollar industry; in addition to the IT industry, the global sports brands such as Nike and Adidas also announce the debuts of their own wearable devices. Overall, their market and functional positioning is more oriented toward fitness monitoring system, focusing simply on daily activity tracking and training strategy for the active runner who wants to track and record specific workouts. It’s worth noting that the future intelligent clothing called “Smart Textiles” will be embedded digital components with small computers or detector sensors to track more precise physiological coverage of the whole body; meanwhile, user can completely control the real-time physiological and physical activities.
Wearable technology is going to be a buzzword into the market inevitably. Allion has been keeping up with the times and showed concerns about the trend and development of smart watch (please refer to our competitive analysis test report, “New Friend on Wrist: Smart Watch Test Report”). Our insight is that the certification and validation processes of wearable technology are very essential to ensure its software and hardware integration and interoperability. Different from the past user scenario of IT industry, the vendors have to consider how to integrate the user experience with wearable device so that wearable technology could be a Cyborg with both organic and mechanical parts of human beings.
With the evolution and spread of portable electronic devices such as up-to-date smartphones, Tablet PCs and digital cameras, the high energy usage and charging requirement are predicable and trying to be optimized through all of them. Whether you are using a wired USB interface-based universal charging solution, or adopting the increasing and developing wireless charging and inductive power solution, that allows your device be fully charged with efficiency and lower the power consumption will become the most important and considerable indicator of researching, designing and purchasing the related charging technologies for various kinds of vendors.
Extended collaboration between technology and the content within it shall prevail eventually
According to Marshall McLuhan, a famous Canadian philosopher of communication theory, “All media are extensions of some human faculty- psychic or physical.” From the point of the development of technology, we would realize that with the rise of mobile devices such as smartphone or tablet, it is not only human faculty will be in a phase of re-integration but also extended collaboration between technology itself and the content within it will also enter an era of convergence. In other words, the development of technology and content isn’t just two parallel lines; instead, content can be the extension of technology. For example, we can have better audio-visual feasts through 3D or sound effect. Besides, technology can be the extension of content as well: with the technique of interoperability and compatibility, we will be able to display real-time content on a variety of devices. Therefore, we find out that if content cannot be displayed on diversified platforms, it would obviously interfere with the development of convenience and usability of modern technology. In terms of this, Wi-Fi Alliance® has already launched a whole new certification program in September, called Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast ™. Through Wi-Fi Display technique with simple setting, no matter users are indoor or outdoor, they are able to transmit audio-visual files or pictures quickly between devices that pass Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast ™ certification program, which officially predicts many companies that an era of wireless mobile-display is coming.
With the growing popularity of Smartphone market, the development of mobile technology has gradually been changing the interpersonal communication, from the past telephoning or SMS towards a more personalized, instant and interactive user scenario. Both the traditional PC application and innovative mobile one launch the mobile versions to the big market to fulfill various user requirements. However, different from the traditional PC interface or the larger size of tablets, many mobile application developers will make usability considerations and trade-offs on the arrangement of user interface and functionality in order to apply the interface design on a small handheld touch screen, but those indirectly have spawned a lot of usability problems.
According to the well-known research institutions, Flurry, which compared its mobile data to stats from comScore and Alexa, found that consumers spent 81 minutes per day using mobile applications, compared to 74 minutes of web surfing. Flurry found consumers spend 9% more time, on average, using mobile applications than the web; that is, the shift comes as combined tablet and smart phone shipments eclipsed those of desktops and notebooks for the first time.