The Smartphone’s Future: It’s All About the Camera – The New York Times

By 

SAN FRANCISCO — We all know the drill. For the last decade, smartphones have gotten thinner and faster and thinner and faster and, well, you get the picture.

But it’s too soon to write off our smartphones as boring. The gadgets are still evolving with new technologies. And for a clue as to what the smartphone of the future might look like, turn your attention to the device’s cameras and the software and sensors that make them tick.

Here’s a peek into how the camera may come into play: As soon as you pick up your gadget, it will see you and know you are the owner and unlock the screen. Overseas, you will be able to point the camera at a restaurant menu to translate items into your native language. When shopping for furniture, you can point your phone camera at your living room floor and place a virtual rendering of a coffee table down to see how it looks and move around and peek underneath it.

Some of this futurism is already starting to happen.

Next month, Apple plans to hold a special event to introduce a set of new iPhones, including a premium model that can scan 3-D objects — including your face. Samsung, the No. 1 phone maker, also recently introduced the Galaxy Note 8, highlighting its fast dual-lens camera as the signature feature. And rivals will soon work to catch up with Samsung and Apple.

“2018 will be the year where the smartphone camera takes a quantum leap in technology,” said Philip-James Jacobowitz, a product manager for Qualcomm, a chip maker that provides components to smartphone makers.

 

Mr. Jacobowitz added that emerging camera technologies would be the key to stronger security features and applications for so-called augmented reality, which uses data to digitally manipulate the physical world when people look through a smartphone lens.

Here’s a rundown on what this all means for how your next smartphone will work.

Face Scanning

For the last few years, we have become accustomed to unlocking our smartphones by scanning our fingerprints or entering a passcode. But when Apple shows its new iPhones next month, including a premium model with a starting price of $999, the company will introduce infrared facial recognition as a new method for unlocking the device.

How would the new iPhone do that exactly? Apple declined to comment. But Qualcomm’s Spectra, a so-called depth-sensing camera system, is one example of how face scanning works.

The Spectra system includes a module that sprays an object with infrared dots to gather information about the depth of an object based on the size and the contortion of the dots. If the dots are smaller, then the object is farther away; if they are bigger, the object is closer. The imaging system can then stitch the patterns into a detailed 3-D image of your face to determine if you are indeed the owner of your smartphone before unlocking it.

“You’re seeing the contours of the head — it’s not just the front of the face as you’re typically thinking about,” said Sy Choudhury, a senior director of product security for Qualcomm.

 

Because of the uniqueness of a person’s head shape, the likelihood of bypassing facial recognition with the incorrect face is 1 in a million, he added. That compares with a false acceptance rate of 1 in 100 for previous facial recognition systems, which had very poor security.

Older facial recognition systems worked by simply using the camera to take a photo of yourself and comparing that with an image that was stored on the device. All a thief would need to do to fool the system was hold a photo of your face in front of the camera — which some people already did with Samsung’s facial-recognition feature.

There are, however, limitations to infrared-scanning technologies. For example, objects that you wear, like a hat or a scarf, might throw off the camera, according to Qualcomm. In addition, experts said infrared light can get drowned out by bright sunlight outdoors, so face scanning might work less reliably on the beach.

It remains to be seen how exactly face scanning will work in the next iPhone. But Apple is well acquainted with depth-sensing camera technologies. In 2013, the iPhone maker acquired PrimeSense, a company that developed sensors for Microsoft’s Kinect, a depth-sensing camera system that let Xbox players control games using body movements. Analysts expect some rendition of PrimeSense’s technology to appear in future iPhones.

Source: The Smartphone’s Future: It’s All About the Camera - The New York Times

The beginners guide to creating mobile applications for your business

Introduction

As smartphone and tablet sales continue to rise, one thing is certain: Mobile computing is the future of business. Just as the personal computer revolutionized business, the era of smartphones and tablets will forever change the business landscape. If your business plans on creating mobile apps this year, this guide will tell you everything you need to start your project.

Overview

The first step in creating mobile applications for your business is a basic understanding of your options. Mobile applications come in two formats: Native applications and mobile web applications. While each looks and feels similar, they are quite different. Here’s a brief explanation of each:

 Native applications

A native mobile application is simply a piece of software for smartphones and tablets. Native applications are built specifically for each mobile platform and installed on the device itself. Just like PC software doesn’t work on a Mac, each native mobile app only works on the platform for which it was built. If you want native apps to work across all mobile platforms, you must build separate versions for each platform.

 Web applications

A mobile web application is a web application formatted for use on a smartphone or tablet and accessed through the device’s web browser. Since mobile web applications are accessed through the browser without requiring installation on each device, they are platform independent. The biggest difference between the two options: Native applications are installed directly on each device while web applications are served from a central location and accessed through a web browser. Both options come with their own unique drawbacks and benefits. Choosing between the two boils down to your company’s needs.

 

Questions to ask before creating mobile apps

 While the differences between the two types appear minor to the user, they are really quite substantial. In order to choose the appropriate app type for your business, answer these 5 questions:

How many platforms do you need to support?

 Right now, there are roughly 4 main smartphone and tablet platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows 10
  • Blackberry OS

Do you want mobile applications that work across all tablet and smartphone platforms? If so, you must create 8 different versions of each application. Even if your company only needs internal mobile applications for one platform, you must still ask yourself this question: Are you certain that this is the platform of the future? If you ever switch platforms, you must create brand new applications. If cross-platform compatibility is a concern for your business, mobile web apps are a better choice as they are completely platform independent.

Do you need to use hardware sensors?

 Native apps have access to more of the device’s hardware sensors, such as the camera and microphone. While mobile web apps can access certain sensors, like GPS, accelerometer, and gyroscope, they cannot access the camera or microphone. If you need a business app that uses these sensors, native apps are a better choice.

How important is security?

 Mobile computing’s biggest advantage, portability, is also its biggest weakness. Since tablets and smartphones are so portable, they are also more likely to get lost or stolen. Native mobile apps that access important data could pose a security risk. Since native apps store data on the device itself, a lost or stolen device could lead to a security breach. On the other hand, mobile web apps store data in a centralized location, not on the device itself. In this case, a lost or stolen phone/tablet doesn’t pose a security risk as no data is stored on the device itself.

What’s the purpose of your app?

 Mobile business applications generally serve one of three purposes: internal use, customer use, or revenue generation. If you’re building apps for internal or customer use, both application options are suitable. However, if you plan on selling your apps, you’ll need to build native apps and place them in each platform’s application store.

How important is data integration?

 Will your apps access your database(s) and integrate into your current systems? If your apps are accessing business data, integration is crucial. Integrating native apps is difficult, if not impossible depending on your current systems. If data integration is important, mobile web apps are a better choice.

 Requirements

 Requirements vary depending on the app format. Here are the requirements for creating both native and mobile web apps:

Native app

  1. Developer(s): You’ll need a developer familiar with the mobile platform programming language. Most platforms use different programming languages. Here are the programming languages required to create native apps for the most popular mobile operating systems.
    1. Android – Java
    2. Blackberry – Java
    3. iOS – Objective-C
    4. Windows 10

If you want to create cross platform native apps, you’ll need either one developer who knows each, or multiple developers.

  1. Join the developer program: You’ll need to join the developer programs for every platform you’re using. Each one requires a small entry fee.
  1. Team: Ongoing, you’ll need a team together to maintain these native apps. Whenever a mobile platform releases a new update, you’ll need to update your application, or risk it not working with the updated OS. Each platform releases a new update every few months.

 

Web app

  1. Web designer: You’ll need someone who is familiar with HTML, CSS, and Java script.
  1. Web developer: If you want full web apps that connect to a back-end database and include business logic, you’ll need a web developer. Unlike native apps, you’re not limited to one development language. You can build mobile apps in whatever language you wish, like Java, PHP, Python, etc…

Conclusion

 Mobile computing is the future of business. Smartphone and tablet sales are on the rise and businesses are finally jumping on board. However, choosing the right path is a challenging task for business just stepping out into mobile territory. If you wish to create mobile apps for your business, you have two options: Create native apps or mobile web apps. The decision largely hinges on your company’s needs. To summarize the information detailed above, here are 5 important factors that will impact your mobile application decision:

  1. If you want apps that work across multiple platforms, mobile web apps are a better option.
  2. If you want apps that access the device’s camera or microphone, native apps are a better option.
  3. If security is important, mobile web apps are a better option.
  4. If you want to sell your apps, native apps are a better option.
  5. If you want apps that integrate with existing systems and databases, mobile web apps are a better option.

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Compact Disc Duplication Process (CD/DVD)

Compact disc manufacturing is the process by which commercial compact discs (CDs) are replicated in mass quantities using a master version created from a source recording. This may be either in audio form (CD-Audio) or data form (CD-ROM). This process is used in the mastering of read-only compact discs; CD-Rs, CD-RWs, and DVDs are made somewhat differently, though the methods are broadly similar.

Canada Online CD/DVD duplication services  Montreal, Quebec, Canada

A CD can be used to store audio, video, and data in various standardized formats defined in the Rainbow Books. CDs are usually manufactured in a class 100 (ISO 5) or better clean room; they can usually be manufactured to quite strict manufacturing tolerances for only a few US cents per disk.

CD mastering differs from burning, as the pits and lands of a mastered CD are moulded into a CD blank, rather than being ‘burn marks’ in a dye layer (in CD-Rs) or areas with changed physical characteristics (in CD-RWs). In addition, CD burners write data sequentially, while a CD pressing plant ‘writes’ the entire disk in one physical stamping operation.

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Premastering

All CDs are pressed from a digital data source, with the most common sources being low error-rate CD-Rs or files from an attached computer hard drive containing the finished data (e. g., music or computer data). Some CD pressing systems can use digital master tapes, either in Digital Audio Tape, Exabyte or Umatic formats. However such sources are suitable only for production of audio CDs due to error detection and correction issues. If the source is not a CD, the table of contents for the CD to be pressed must also be prepared and stored on the tape or hard drive. In all cases except CD-R sources, the tape must be uploaded to a media mastering system to create the TOC (Table Of Contents) for the CD. Creative processing of the mixed audio recordings often occurs in conventional premastering sessions. The nickname often used for this is “mastering,” but the official name, as explained in Bob Katz book, Mastering Audio, edition 1, page 18, is premastering. After all, there still has to be the creation of another disc which has the premastered audio but which supplies the surface on which the metal master will be electroformed. So, there still needs to be the grandmother disc before the master stamper can be formed atop.

 

Mastering

Glass mastering

Glass mastering is performed in a class 100 (ISO 5) or better clean room or a self-enclosed clean environment within the mastering system. Contaminants introduced during critical stages of manufacturing (e.g., dust, pollen, hair, or smoke) can cause sufficient errors to make a master unusable. Once successfully completed, a CD master will be less susceptible to the effects of these contaminants.

During glass mastering, glass is used as a substrate to hold the CD master image while it is created and processed; hence the name. Glass substrates, noticeably larger than a CD, are round plates of glass approximately 240 mm in diameter and 6 mm thick.  They often also have a small, steel hub on one side to facilitate handling. The substrates are created specially for CD mastering and one side is polished until it is extremely smooth. Even microscopic scratches in the glass will affect the quality of CDs pressed from the master image. The extra area on the substrate allows for easier handling of the glass master and reduces risk of damage to the pit and land structure when the “father” stamper is removed from the glass substrate.

Once the glass substrate is cleaned using detergents and ultrasonic baths, the glass is placed in a spin coater. The spin coater rinses the glass blank with a solvent and then applies either photoresist or dye-polymer depending on the mastering process. Rotation spreads photoresist or dye-polymer coating evenly across the surface of the glass. The substrate is removed and baked to dry the coating and the glass substrate is ready for mastering.

Once the glass is ready for mastering, it is placed in a laser beam recorder (LBR). Most LBRs are capable of mastering at greater than 1x speed, but due to the weight of the glass substrate and the requirements of a CD master they are typically mastered at no greater than 8x playback speed. The LBR uses a laser to write the information, with a wavelength and final lens NA (numerical aperture) chosen to produce the required pit size on the master blank. For example, DVD pits are smaller than CD pits, so a shorter wavelength or higher NA (or both) is needed for DVD mastering. LBRs use one of two recording techniques; photo resist and non-photoresist mastering. Photoresist also comes in two variations; positive photoresist and negative photoresist.

Photoresist mastering

Photoresist mastering uses a light-sensitive material (a photoresist) to create the pits and lands on the CD master blank. The laser beam recorder uses a deep blue or ultraviolet laser to write the master.  When exposed to the laser light, the photoresist undergoes a chemical reaction which either hardens it (in the case of negative photoresist) or to the contrary makes it more soluble (in the case of positive photoresist). The exposed area is then soaked in a developer solution which removes the exposed positive photoresist or the unexposed negative photoresist.

Once the mastering is complete, the glass master is removed from the LBR and chemically ‘developed’. Once developing is finished, the glass master is metalized to provide a surface for the stamper to be formed onto. It is then polished with lubrication and wiped down.

Non-photoresist or dye-polymer mastering

When a laser is used to record on the dye-polymer used in non-photoresist (NPR) mastering, the dye-polymer absorbs laser energy focused in a precise spot; this vapourises and forms a pit in the surface of the dye-polymer. This pit can be scanned by a red laser beam that follows the cutting beam, and the quality of the recording can be directly and immediately assessed; for instance, audio signals being recorded can also be played straight from the glass master in real time. The pit geometry and quality of the playback can all be adjusted while the CD is being mastered, as the blue writing laser and the red read laser are typically connected via a feedback system to optimise the recording. This allows the dye-polymer LBR to produce very consistent pits even if there are variations in the dye-polymer layer. Another advantage of this method is that pit depth variation can be programmed during recording to compensate for downstream characteristics of the local production process (e.g., marginal molding performance). This cannot be done with photoresist mastering because the pit depth is set by the PR coating thickness, whereas dye-polymer pits are cut into a coating thicker than the intended pits.

This type of mastering is called Direct Read After Write (DRAW) and is the main advantage of some non-photoresist recording systems. Problems with the quality of the glass blank master, such as scratches, or an uneven dye-polymer coating, can be immediately detected. If required the mastering can be halted, saving time and increasing throughput.

Canada Online CD/DVD duplication services  Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Post-mastering

After mastering, the glass master is baked to harden the developed surface material to prepare it for metalisation. Metalisation is a critical step prior to electrogalvanic manufacture (electroplating).

The developed glass master is placed in a vapour deposition metaliser which uses a combination of mechanical vacuum pumps and cryopumps to lower the total vapour pressure inside a chamber to a hard vacuum. A piece of nickel wire is then heated in a tungsten boat to white hot temperature and the nickel vapour deposited onto the rotating glass master. The glass master is coated with the nickel vapour up to a typical thickness of around 400 nm.

The finished glass masters are inspected for stains, pinholes or incomplete coverage of the nickel coating and passed to the next step in the mastering process.

Electroforming

Example of a glass master used in the compact disc replication process

Electroforming occurs in “Matrix”, the name used for the electroforming process area in many plants; it is also a class 100 (ISO 5) or better clean room. The data (music, computer data, etc.) on the metalised glass master is extremely easy to damage and must be transferred to a tougher form for use in the injection moulding equipment which actually produces the end-product optical disks.

The metalised master is clamped in a conductive electrodeposition frame with the data side facing outwards and lowered into an electroforming tank. The specially prepared and controlled tank water contains a nickel salt solution (usually nickel sulfamate) at a particular concentration which may be adjusted slightly in different plants depending on the characteristics of the prior steps. The solution is carefully buffered to maintain its pH, and organic contaminants must be kept below one part in five million for good results. The bath is heated to approximately 50 °C.

The glass master is rotated in the electroforming tank while a pump circulates the electroforming solution over the surface of the master. As the electroforming progresses, nickel is not electroplated onto the surface of the glass master, since that would preclude separation. Plating is rather eschewed through passivation and, initially, because the glass is not electroconductive. Instead, the metal coating on the glass disc, actually reverse-plates onto the nickel (not the mandrel) which is being electrodeposited by the attraction of the electrons on the cathode, which presents itself as the metal-coated glass mistress, or, premaster mandrel. Electroplating, on the other hand, would have entailed electrodepostion directly to the mandrel along with the intention of it staying adhered. That, and the more rigorous requirements of temperature control and purity of bathwater, are the main differences between the two disciplines of electrodeposition (invented by Luigi Brugnatelli and often credited to another Luigi – Sr. Galvani). The metal stamper first struck from the metal-coated glass is the metal master (and we shouldn’t make a master from another master as that would not follow the nomenclature of the sequence of siring that is germane to electroforming) This is clearly a method opposite to normal electroplating. Another difference to electroplating is that the internal stress of the nickel must be controlled carefully, or the nickel stamper will not be flat. The solution cleanliness is important but is achieved by continuous filtration and usual anode bagging systems. Another large difference is that the stamper thickness must be controlled to ±2% of the final thickness so that it will fit on the injection moulding machines with very high tolerances of gassing rings and centre clamps. This thickness control requires electronic current control and baffles in the solution to control distribution

The current must start off quite low as the metallised layer is too thin to take large currents, and is increased steadily. As the thickness of the nickel on the glass “mistress” increases, the current can be increased. The full electroforming current density is very high with the full thickness of usually 0.3 mm taking approximately one hour. The part is removed from the tank and the metal layer carefully separated from the glass substrate. If plating occurs, the process must be begun anew, from the glass mastering phase. The metal part, now called a “father”, has the desired data as a series of bumps rather than pits. The injection moulding process works better by flowing around high points rather than into pits on the metal surface. The father is washed with deionised water and other chemicals such as ammonical hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide or acetone to remove all trace of resist or other contaminants. The glass master can be sent for reclamation, cleaning and checking before reuse. If defects are detected, it will be discarded or repolished recycled.

Once cleaned of any loose nickel and resist, the father surface is washed and the passivated, either electrically or chemically, which allows the next plated layer to separate from the father. This layer is an atomic layer of absorbed oxygen that does not alter the physical surface. The father is clamped back into a frame and returned to the plating tank. This time the metal part that is grown is the mirror image of the father and is called a “mother”; as this is now pits, it cannot be used for moulding.

The mother-father sandwich is carefully separated and the mother is then washed, passivated and returned to the electroforming baths to have a mirror image produced on it called a son. Most moulded CDs are produced from sons.

Mothers can be regrown from fathers if they become damaged, or a very long run. If handled correctly, there is no limit to the number of stampers that can be grown from a single mother before the quality of the stamper is reduced unacceptably. Fathers can be used as a stamper, directly, if a very fast turnaround is required, or if the yield is 100%, in which case the father would be wastefully stored. At the end of a run, the mother is certainly to be stored.

A father, mother, and a collection of stampers (sometimes called “sons”) are known collectively as a “family”. Fathers and mothers are the same size as a glass substrate, typically 300 μm in thickness. Stampers do not require the extra space around the outside of the program area and they are punched to remove the excess nickel from outside and inside the information area in order to fit the mould of the injection moulding machine (IMM). The physical dimensions of the mould vary depending of the injection tooling being used.

Canada Online CD/DVD duplication services  Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Replication

CD moulding machines are specifically designed high temperature polycarbonate injection moulders. They have an average throughput of 550-900 discs per hour, per moulding line. Clear polycarbonate pellets are first dried at around 130 degrees Celsius for three hours (nominal; this depends on which optical grade resin is in use) and are fed via vacuum transport into one end of the injection moulder’s barrel (i.e., the feed throat) and are moved to the injection chamber via a large screw inside the barrel. The barrel, wrapped with heater bands ranging in temperature from ca 210 to 320 degrees Celsius melts the polycarbonate. When the mould is closed the screw moves forward to inject molten plastic into the mould cavity. When the mould is full, cool water running through mould halves, outside the cavity, cools the plastic so it somewhat solidifies. The entire process from the mould closing, injection and opening again takes approximately 3 to 5 seconds.

The moulded “disc” (referred to as a ‘green’ disc, lacking final processing) is removed from the mould by vacuum handling; high-speed robot arms with vacuum suction caps. They are moved onto the finishing line infeed conveyor, or cooling station, in preparation for metallisation. At this point the discs are clear and contain all the digital information desired; however they cannot be played because there is no reflective layer.

The discs pass, one at a time, into the metaliser, a small chamber at approximately 10−3 Torr (130 mPa) vacuum. The process is called ‘sputtering’. The metaliser contains a metal “target” — almost always an alloy of (mostly) aluminium and small amounts of other metals. There is a load-lock system (similar to an airlock) so the process chamber can be kept at high vacuum as the discs are exchanged. When the disc is rotated into the processing position by a swivel arm in the vacuum chamber, a small dose of argon gas is injected into the process chamber and a 700 volt DC electric current at up to 20 kW is applied to the target. This produces a plasma from the target, and the plasma vapor is deposited onto the disc; it is an anode – cathode transfer. The metal coats the data side of the disc (upper surface), covering the pit and lands. This metal layer is the reflective surface which can be seen on the reverse (non label side) of a CD. This thin layer of metal is subject to corrosion from various contaminants and so is protected by a thin layer of lacquer.

After metalisation, the discs pass on to a spin-coater, where UV curable lacquer is dispensed onto the newly metallized layer. By rapid spinning, the lacquer coats the entire disc with a very thin layer (approx. 70 nm). After the lacquer is applied, the disks pass under a high intensity UV lamp which cures the lacquer rapidly. The lacquer also provides a surface for a label, generally screen printed or offset printed. The printing ink(s) must be chemically compatible with the lacquer used. Markers used by consumers to write on blank surfaces can lead to breaks in the protective lacquer layer, which may lead to corrosion of the reflective layer, and failure of the CD.

Testing

For quality control, both the stamper and the moulded discs are tested before a production run. Samples of the disc (test pressings) are taken during long production runs and tested for quality consistency. Pressed discs are analyzed on a signal analysis machine. The metal stamper can also be tested on a signal analysis machine which has been specially adapted (larger diameter, more fragile, …). The machine will “play” the disc or stamper and measure various physical and electrical parameters. Errors can be introduced at every step of production, but the moulding process is the least subject to adjustment. Sources of errors are more readily identified and compensated for during mastering. If the errors are too severe then the stamper is rejected and a replacement installed. An experienced machine operator can interpret the report from the analysis system and optimise the moulding process to make a disc that meets the required Rainbow Book specification (e.g. Red Book for Audio from the Rainbow Books series).

If no defects are found, the CD continues to printing so a label can be screen or offset printed on the top surface of the disc. Thereafter, discs are counted, packaged, and shipped.

Canada Online CD/DVD duplication services  Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Document and Microfilm Scanning Services, Services de numérisation de documents et microfilm

Document and Microfilm Scanning Services

We are providing microfilming and outsource document management services in order for organisations to secure and provide them with easier access to their documents, thereby, enabling them to focus on their core businesses. Through the extensive knowledge in the microfilming world, it was a natural move for us to move to the digital imaging world, thereby offering scanning services. Our extensive expertise, in the world of microfilming, is serving us well today, for clients who want to convert their microfilm to digital images.

Call us Toll Free at 1-855-731-1500

Our services incorporate the following;
- The origins of our business, microfilming services, for all types of documents
- Film development services
- Paper scanning services, for all types of documents, including engineering drawings
- Microfilm scanning services
- Archival copy of digitised images to microfilm
- Indexing services
- Micrographic supplies
- Micrographic and electronic imaging hardware
- Electronic document management consulting and software recommendations

Our mission is to provide conversion services to our clients, in the format they are currently working with, as well as providing them with new and innovative ideas and ways to enhance their business processes. The knowledge and experience we've accumulated over the years has led us to recommend imaging solutions, combined with our conversion services, providing a turn key solution to our clients. These enhanced processes provide our clients with today's technology, in order for them to truly and only focus on their core business. These enhanced tools may lead our clients to, enhanced customer service, potential revenue growth, better internal controls, and enhanced profitability.

Our team is available to handle all aspects of your imaging, including picking up documents from your office, scanning, and indexing. You will be able to retrieve the images readily over the Web or by email, or we can copy the images to a CD or DVD for your use. An added benefit of sending your documents for scanning is that we can store the hard copy at our facility after they are scanned. This gives you easy access to your hard copy documents without having all the burden of the boxes at your location or a mini-warehouse. Alternatively, or after a predetermined period of time, we can securely and confidentially shred your paper documents. Since they have been converted to an electronic file, they may no longer be needed.