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Tech Roundup: Apple Personal Networks, Oprah Kindles Amazon, More

Apple wants to network you No, not your computer -- you. One of its more recent patent applications (which means that it was filed upwards of 18 months ago) is titled Personal area network systems and devices and methods for use thereof, which apparently means using RF modules to keep devices in constant connection with each other and with larger devices that could provide additional features, like having a wristwatch that could place a phone call via a host device. Ah, the iWatch, just what we needed. Given the time lag in publishing patent applications, some of these new twists might be around sooner than you might think. Keep a lookout for the patent application covering the battery-lined belt. [Source: Ars Technica]

Cable-Telco access wars rage on Comcast announced that it is upgrading speeds of Internet access for its customers to 50Mbps, or roughly double what they are today. It's a danger for the DSL crowd, because they simply can't keep up. However, knowing the proclivity of various service providers to -- uh -- stretch the connection between marketing statements and fact, it would be interesting to know how much more bandwidth users are actually getting. Also, given the penchant for the Internet to suffer from bottlenecks in all sorts of places, how much more does the extra speed, whatever the amount, actually deliver in user experience? Or could final leg bandwidth become the industry's equivalent of the digital camera megapixel claims? [Source: BusinessWeek]

Camera sensors get small Get ready for the next round of shrinking cameras with ballooning resolution. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) announced a new 0.11-micron CMOS image sensor process, which should provide improved resolution matched with low noise and enhanced contrast. "Normal" processes run 0.18 and 0.15 microns. Look for this to turn up strongly in cell phones as handset manufacturers fall all over themselves to find some spot of differentiation. [Source: DigiTimes]

Intel dismisses ARM, takes it back Given that Intel likes being the center of computing devices, you might see why it would frown upon and publicly dismiss Apple's use of an ARM processor in the iPhone. But apparently someone at Intel thought it had put its collective foot into its mouth, because yesterday Intel issued a correction, conceding that its own low-power chips can't touch the light electron hunger of ARM chips. Currently Apple is designing its own chip to control even more of its platform, which might make you wonder at which point it will undertake genetic engineering to control the user, just in case the Apple religion isn't enough. [Source: Ars Technica, CNet]

Will Oprah back Kindle? Sounds like Oprah is in love with Amazon's Kindle, calling it "favorite gadget." It's hard to predict exactly how much of a kick this could provide the e-book reader, particularly in an economy where Amazon and others are revising their guidance downwards. But to give an idea of the potential, she can literally turn a book into a best seller overnight. This literally could be enough to make e-books a "real" consumer electronics product, and not a curiosity for a relatively large group of early adopters. Plus, if Oprah's audience does literally buy in to the concept, how long before they equip their kids and parents start pressuring schools to go electronic and reduce the number of pounds pulling on the skeleton of the average school-age kid? And how long before Sony looks for a brick wall to beat its head against? [Source: Financial Times]

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