Silent Sound Technology

You are in a movie theatre or noisy restaurant or a bus etc where there is lot of noise around is big issue while talking on a mobile phone. But in the future this problem is eliminated with ”silent sounds”, a new technology unveiled at the CeBIT fair on Tuesday that transforms lip movements into a computer-generated voice for the listener at the other end of the phone.

The device, developed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), uses electromyography, monitoring tiny muscular movements that occur when we speak and converting them into electrical pulses that can then be turned into speech, without a sound uttered.

‘Silent Sound’ technology aims to notice every movement of the lips and transform them into sounds, which could help people who lose voices to speak, and allow people to make silent calls without bothering others. Rather than making any sounds, your handset would decipher the movements your mouth makes by measuring muscle activity, then convert this into speech that the person on the other end of the call can hear. So, basically, it reads your lips.

“We currently use electrodes which are glued to the skin. In the future, such electrodes might for example by incorporate into cell phones,” said Michael Wand, from the KIT.

The technology opens up a host of applications, from helping people who have lost their voice due to illness or accident to telling a trusted friend your PIN number over the phone without anyone eavesdropping — assuming no lip-readers are around. The technology can also turn you into an instant polyglot. Because the electrical pulses are universal, they can be immediately transformed into the language of the user’s choice.

“Native speakers can silently utter a sentence in their language, and the receivers hear the translated sentence in their language. It appears as if the native speaker produced speech in a foreign language,” said Wand.

The translation technology works for languages like English, French and Germans, but for languages like Chinese, where different tones can hold many different meanings, poses a problem, he added.

Noisy people in your office? Not any more. “We are also working on technology to be used in an office environment,” the KIT scientist told AFP.

The engineers have got the device working to 99 percent efficiency, so the mechanical voice at the other end of the phone gets one word in 100 wrong, explained Wand.

“But we’re working to overcome the remaining technical difficulties. In five, maybe ten years, this will be useable, everyday technology,” he said.

High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA)

High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA)

High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA)

High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA)

High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) is a packet based technology for W-CDMA downlink with data transmission rates of 4 to 5 times that of current generation 3G networks (UMTS) and 15 times faster than GPRS. The latest release boosts downlink speeds from the current end-user rate of 384 kbps (up to 2 Mbps according to standards) to a maximum value according to standards of 14.4 Mbps. Real life end-user speeds will be in the range of 2 to 3 Mbps.

HSDPA provides a smooth evolutionary path for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) networks to higher data rates and higher capacities, in the same way as Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) does in the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) world. The introduction of shared channels for different users will guarantee that channel resources are used efficiently in the packet domain, and will be less expensive for users than dedicated channels.

HSDPA was introduced in the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) release 5 standards. Assuming comparable cell sizes, it is anticipated that by using multi-code transmission it will be possible to achieve peak data rates of about 10 Mbit/s (the maximum theoretical rate is 14.4 Mbit/s). This will result in a six- to seven-fold throughput increase during an average downlink packet session compared with the Downlink Shared CHannel (DSCH) standards of 3GPP release 99.

3GPP standards beyond release 5 will aim to achieve further throughput increases, say peak data rates in the range 20 to 30 Mbit/s, by using Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) or other antenna array techniques, and possibly asymmetric allocation of frequency spectrum in multi-carrier cells (e.g. a further 100% downlink packet session throughput increase by allocating an additional 5 MHz unpaired band).

HSDPA achieves its performance gains from the following radio features:

High speed channels shared both in the code and time domains

Adaptive modulation and coding schemes: Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (QPSK) and 16QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation).

Hybrid Automatic Repeat reQuest (HARQ) retransmission protocol.

Short transmission time interval (TTI)

Fast packet scheduling controlled by the Medium Access Control – high speed (MAC-hs) protocol in Node B.

Fast scheduling

HSDPA will make life easy for 3G customers, providing vastly better service for both corporate users and individuals, with data delivered at speeds comparable to or better than fixed-line broadband access systems.

Corporate users will have easy and secure mobile access to corporate networks, with rapid retrieval and downloading of confidential corporate information.

Consumers will enjoy superior quality for video services, including video streaming and gaming.

All customers will enjoy fast Web browsing, with rapid access to graphics-heavy Internet sites.

With the availability of HSDPA notebook cards (and a deployed network), the question will be, with ubiquitous HSDPA coverage, will anyone pay for a hotspot service available at only selected locations? There are two possible scenarios where they might. Bandwidth at Wi-Fi hotspots may be hugely price competitive, or even free; and Wi-Fi will come pre-installed on many notebooks. The success of the Intel Centrino platform will see the majority of notebooks ship with in-built WLAN support by the end of 2005, and slotting in an additional wireless card may be overkill for some users. However, with Intel planning to add W-CDMA to Centrino next year, HSDPA may also be on its wireless technology checklist.

As HSDPA settles more into mainstream awareness, we should expect the usual levels of hype to start flying. Already, the technology is being flagged as a potential competitor to DSL, placing a lucrative portion of fixed-line operator customers in the hands of the cellular providers. WiMAX is another opponent being lined-up for a bout with HSDPA. How effectively the 3G upgrade can compete in these arenas will depend on infrastructure cost and coverage density. Regardless, we must admit that the introduction of this new cellular standard has made things a little more interesting.

SWOT analysis

The SWOT analysis is an extremely useful tool for understanding and decision-making for all sorts of situations in business and organizations.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieve that objective. The technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led a convention at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s using data from Fortune 500 companies. A SWOT analysis must first start with defining a desired end state or objective. A SWOT analysis may be incorporated into the strategic planning model. Strategic Planning, has been the subject of much research.

Strengths: attributes of the person or company that are helpful to achieving the objective(s).
Weaknesses: attributes of the person or company that are harmful to achieving the objective(s).
Opportunities: external conditions that are helpful to achieving the objective(s).
Threats: external conditions which could do damage to the objective(s).

Identification of SWOTs are essential because subsequent steps in the process of planning for achievement of the selected objective may be derived from the SWOTs.

First, the decision makers have to determine whether the objective is attainable, given the SWOTs. If the objective is NOT attainable a different objective must be selected and the process repeated.

Internal and External Factors

The aim of any SWOT analysis is to identify the key internal and external factors that are important to achieving the objective. These come from within the company’s unique value chain. SWOT analysis groups key pieces of information into two main categories:
Internal factors – The strengths and weaknesses internal to the organization.
External factors – The opportunities and threats presented by the external environment to the organization. – Use a PEST or PESTLE analysis to help identify factors

The internal factors may be viewed as strengths or weaknesses depending upon their impact on the organization’s objectives. What may represent strengths with respect to one objective may be weaknesses for another objective. The factors may include all of the 4P’s; as well as personnel, finance, manufacturing capabilities, and so on. The external factors may include macroeconomic matters, technological change, legislation, and socio-cultural changes, as well as changes in the marketplace or competitive position. The results are often presented in the form of a matrix.

SWOT analysis is just one method of categorization and has its own weaknesses. For example, it may tend to persuade companies to compile lists rather than think about what is actually important in achieving objectives. It also presents the resulting lists uncritically and without clear prioritization so that, for example, weak opportunities may appear to balance strong threats.

It is prudent not to eliminate too quickly any candidate SWOT entry. The importance of individual SWOTs will be revealed by the value of the strategies it generates. A SWOT item that produces valuable strategies is important. A SWOT item that generates no strategies is not important.

Use of SWOT Analysis

The usefulness of SWOT analysis is not limited to profit-seeking organizations. SWOT analysis may be used in any decision-making situation when a desired end-state (objective) has been defined. Examples include: non-profit organizations, governmental units, and individuals. SWOT analysis may also be used in pre-crisis planning and preventive crisis management. SWOT analysis may also be used in creating a recommendation during a viability study/survey.

Corporate planning

As part of the development of strategies and plans to enable the organization to achieve its objectives, then that organization will use a systematic/rigorous process known as corporate planning. SWOT alongside PEST/PESTLE can be used as a basis for the analysis of business and environmental factors.
Set objectives – defining what the organization is going to do
Environmental scanning Internal appraisals of the organization’s SWOT, this needs to include an assessment of the present situation as well as a portfolio of products/services and an analysis of the product/service life cycle
Analysis of existing strategies, this should determine relevance from the results of an internal/external appraisal. This may include gap analysis which will look at environmental factors
Strategic Issues defined – key factors in the development of a corporate plan which needs to be addressed by the organization
Develop new/revised strategies – revised analysis of strategic issues may mean the objectives need to change
Establish critical success factors – the achievement of objectives and strategy implementation
Preparation of operational, resource, projects plans for strategy implementation
Monitoring results – mapping against plans, taking corrective action which may mean amending objectives/strategies.