Siemens Shows Off Prototypes

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2004-03-24 Print this article Print

I expected to see a lot of cool prototypes at CTIA, but alas, only German company Siemens opted to bring an engineer and stuff from the labs. What they showed, though, was pretty cool.
Yes, its a phone in the shape of a pen. Actually, it really is a pen. Inside this prototype is a laser that tracks movement and a handwriting recognition engine. Want to call home? Write the number on a piece of paper using the pen, or presumably just spell out home. It really worked—sort of—in the demo. The phone recognized numbers as written, at least some of the time. You talk on the phone by holding it to your head vertically, but itll also include Bluetooth, so you can use a separate headset. Definitely cool. But way out there.
This prototype shows how a virtual keyboard can be added to a phone. On the upper part of the unit, a red light beams a virtual keyboard onto a table. At the bottom of the phone, a laser sweeps along the surface, looking for a finger to break the plane. With the built-in camera and laser and with the proper calibration, its pretty easy to type in words and commands. Dont expect to touch-type, though—its hunt and peck only. No estimated ship date, but its pretty cool. Siemens claims it has made a breakthrough in wireless tracking. Click here to read more. In addition to prototypes, Siemens showed off some neat, new handsets as well, due out later this year. I was particularly fond of the SX1, which you can purchase now on the Web for $499. This smartphone, along with all of Siemens phones, only runs on the GSM network. It does e-mail, browses the Web and connects to your PC to swap addresses and phone numbers. Based on the Symbian operating system, its nice and small. This hip, little phone, the CF62, is Siemens first flip phone. Its got a cool feature for alerting you when a call comes in: A series of white lights running around the outside of the unit blink when someones calling. Users can program their own blinking sequences to indicate certain calls or just for fun. The CF62 also has a unique antenna design. Instead of protruding straight up, it wraps around the top, like a handle. The phone is due out in the third quarter. Its an attractive, small phone. No camera, but its sure to be a hip attention-grabber when it ships. The CX66, on the other hand, includes both still and video imaging. Its also small but includes 11 megabytes of shared memory and a VGA camera. It supports MMS and a Java-based, 3D gaming engine that looked pretty cool. I saw it actually rotate tiny vehicles in 3D. It also will be available in the third quarter of 2004. Although Siemens would not release pricing information, expect both of these phones to fall in the middle of the market – between $200 and $300. As GSM phones, they will likely be available for T-Mobile, Cingular or AT&T Wireless. Next Page: Samsung delivers small, sassy devices.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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