Archives for January 14, 2010

Skype makes HD video calls

Video calling makes people “feel more connected to friends and family,” says Skype. To make the connection clearer, the internet communications software provider is now supporting 720p HD video at 30 frames per second.

Today, 34 percent of all Skype-to-Skype calls include video, the company says.

Using the new Skype 4.2 for Windows requires, of course, an HD webcam, sufficient bandwidth, and processing power.

The In Store Solutions Talk-7170 HD Pro and the Talk-7181 HD Pro Plus have a 5-megapixel sensor for 720p video, and the company says its onboard chip “eliminates the need for additional processing by the computer running the Skype application, enabling superior video conversations between people.” This also means less network bandwidth and CPU cycles for HD video calls. The models differ by having two or four built-in cardioid microphones to help improve echo canceling performance, and are priced at $120 and $140, respectively.

Alternatively, HDTVs shipping later this year will have Skype internet calling software embedded. Panasonic, for example, says consumers can make voice and video calls over Skype on its Viera Cast-enabled HDTVs – although the 720p camera will be sold as a separate accessory. LG and others will also market Skype-enable TVs.

Rollei rolls out tiny 10MP touch screen

Rollei debuted its Flexline 100 inTouch, an ultracompact camera with a 3-inch touch screen.

The new model has a 10-megapixel sensor and 3x optical zoom lens, and can take 30 pictures per second. It measures 4.5-by-2.6-by-0.6 inches, and is priced at about $300.

Touching a projected image

The Light Touch projects an interactive touch screen on any surface.

“Today, consumers are no longer passive viewers of multimedia content,” says developer Light Blue Optics. “People expect to engage, interact, and share content.” To enable just that, the company is offering a reference product for OEM partners that it calls “a new application platform.”

With holographic laser projection, the Light Touch creates a 10-inch display; an infrared touch sensing system transforms the projected image into a virtual touch screen that works on any flat surface.

Light Blue Optics is headquartered in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Toy-size Helicopter with two cameras

A newly developed ultra-stable miniature helicopter sports multiple sensors, and it’s been developed for an iPod game, apparently.

Paris-based Parrot says its AR.Drone quadricopter provides an “augmented reality gaming experience” for use with the iPhone and iPod touch.

The drone is “easy to control and flies like a dragonfly,” the company says, with excellent maneuverability and extraordinary stability. Its central cockpit is surrounded by four propellers.

The drone has an accelerometer, gyro, ultrasound sensor, and two cameras. The first camera, located underneath, connects to an inertial measurement unit, which allows the AR.Drone to measure its speed and perform flawless stationary flight. Parrot says its Smart Piloting technology compensates for wind and other environmental conditions during outside flights. These technologies, used primarily for professional and military applications, are now in a consumer product for the first time. The second camera, located at the front, broadcasts and streams what the AR.Drone sees to the iPhone, as if the user is sitting in the cockpit.

The drone communicates via Wi-Fi, letting the user control the flight by moving an iPod, while simultaneously playing a video game seen on the device’s screen, overlaid atop the real-time video captured by the camera.

Pricing and availability were not announced.

Kodak sues Apple, RIM, over camera phone imaging

Kodak alleges patent infringement by Apple and Research In Motion Limited, saying camera phones infringe Kodak’s digital imaging technology.

Kodak filed its complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, claiming that Apple’s iPhones and RIM’s camera-enabled BlackBerry devices infringe a Kodak patent that covers technology related to a method for previewing images.

Separately, Kodak filed suit against Apple that alleges infringement of two patents generally covering image preview and the processing of images of different resolutions.

Kodak adds it has “had discussions for years with both companies in an attempt to resolve this issue amicably, and we have not been able to reach a satisfactory agreement.”

The company says it has royalty bearing licenses on its digital imaging technology with approximately 30 companies, including phone makers LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson.

This month, Samsung and Kodak settled their suits with a patent sharing agreement, and a royalty payment to Kodak. Kodak reports that during this disagreement, an ITC administrative law judge issued a ruling declaring that the Kodak patent covering color image preview (No. 6,292,218) was valid and enforceable, and that Samsung’s camera-enabled mobile devices infringed upon that Kodak patent.

Kodak’s full announcement is here.

Apple is also currently involved in patent suits with Nokia.