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CES 2012. Visitors from the Future by Fujitsu
Every year I find the Fujitsu showcase to be one of the most fascinating. This Japanese company seems to be mocking other manufacturers presenting gadgets that are already on sale in Japan but can easily blow a mind of an outsider. What comes into your mind when you hear 'protected phone'? You probably imagine something massive with round angles, rubber bumpers and protective lids. But Fujitsu proves that protected phones can be slim and elegant. Why make users carry heavy bricks if Fujitsu engineers can put a protected phone into a regular body?
The first thing you see in the Fujitsu showcase is a fish tank with a bunch of phones inside and a girl beside it asking you not to try and fish the phones out (there was a number of volunteers). A bit later the tablet in the water began playing a video and you could totally hear everything even though the speakers were submerged.
I was disappointed when I learned that the touch features of Fujitsu screens don't work under water. Listen to me, I was so impressed by this demo I though they can do everything but these phones are groundbreaking as is. I liked that they even let you dip their phones into bowls with waters and then open the phones up and see if any damage was done Ц check out this video:
Most Fujitsu phones regardless of their looks and design are waterproof protected class IPX5/IPX8. The first standard (IPX5) stands for protection against water jets only (though it is a lot tougher than IPX4). IPX8 can withstand complete submersion into water for a considerable period of time (each manufacturer provides its own specifications concerning the max depth, water type etc.).
You have got to respect the manufacturer when you see regular phones operating underwater. But water resistance is not the only special feature of Fujitsu phones. Most their phones have glossy surfaces which are very fingerprints prone and it is especially obvious at an expo where people use them all the time. However, I after cleaning one of them up and working with it for ten minutes I found that they are not that easily soiled as I though at first thanks to the Fujitsu Ultra Touch guard plastic which has an oleo phobic finish and is very scratch resistant.
After learning that I tried to scratch one of them and in any other showcase the reps would probably try to stop me before I ruin their phones but a rep at Fujitsu actually apologized for not bringing any sharp tools with them so that everyone could try to scratch their phones. The rep was so nice he even held the phone while I was trying to scratch it but failed.
They demonstrated how the protective finish works with an abrasion test with a hundred and two hundred abrasion iterations and the difference is well seen on the photos:
As if it was so mundane Fujitsu presents an Android smartphone prototype with a quad core Tegra 3 GPU, a 4.6Ф HD display and a 13.1 MPix camera with the ISO value of 25600 (a Sony product that does not yet have a name with inverse back light) making no drama or a big deal out of it while this prototype simply humiliates all smartphones known in the US and Europe. It seems Fujitsu are so sure in this product they don't feel like advertising its prowess. The display specs alone make knowledgeable people faint (it is a new gen LCD screen with picture quality higher than that of HD IPS I mentioned in the review of the LG showcase).
I believe in Fujitsu simply because they have proven that they can make such products a reality. As of today the company's smartphone series is called Arrows. The flagship is called X LTE (I always mispronounce it as X Lite but it is an LTE phone actually). This phone has recently surpassed iPhone 4s sales in Japan and is currently number two leaving Apple iPhone on the third place in sales. This is a really big achievement for Fujitsu.
It is an Android smartphone with the F05-D index with Android 2.3 onboard (newer versions will be available later), it measures in 129х64х9.8 mm/5x2.5x0.4 in and weighs 124g/4.4oz. It is relatively small and even tiny as compared to other LTE phones. It is also fully dust and water resistant and can be submerged into water.
It features a 1280x720 4.3Ф screen and its graphic accelerator provides a 60Hz refreshment rate so animation is really smooth. Besides it features something called 'Smooth Touch panel' that anticipates your actions on the touchscreen so the phone renders your gestures a lot faster (it considers the angle of swiping and the orientation the phone) unlike regular phones when an action follows a finished gesture. It reacts so fast (in a matter of a fraction of a second) that it greatly enhances the user experience and the level of comfort.
This phone is built on the TI OMAP4430 chipset so it has a 1.2GHz dual core CPU, also 1GB of system memory, 8GB of storage space and a microSD slot. It supports all modern wireless standards including NFC which is a rare thing for Japan.
The main camera uses the Sony Exmor chip and a Milbeaut Mobile chip dedicated to photo rendition. The later one is a Fujitsu own technology and it is currently the 6th generation of these processors. The latest Milbeaut processors are two coupled ARM processors with inbuilt codecs. It is a rather fast solution that also contributes well to photo quality as you can see on the samples below made with its 13.1MPix camera at the expo:
Compare these pictures with the ones I made with Fujitsu F03-D outdoors to get the idea how well it does in natural light. Some of the pictures were edited in the phone's photo editor:
I find the quality to be very good even though I cannot say it is the best. Anyway, all Fujitsu phones have very decent photo quality.
Now to this most interesting part of it Ц the battery. Slim phones are prone to having very very short battery life but Fujitsu gives the following life time numbers: 200hrs (LTE), 290hrs(GSM), 490hrs(3G). These numbers look good and the reps assured me that the phone can easily hold for a whole day (but Japan has got a really nice cell coverage so in other countries the battery life will probably be shorter).
All in all, I can certainly say that Arrows X LTE is a real flagship packed with hi-tech. Unfortunately, we don't see this level of technology in phones on sale in Europe while this Fujitsu phone is really mind boggling and it is not the only prodigy in the family.
Arrows Ultra Slim 6.7mm is the thinnest 3G phone in the world measuring 127х64х6.7 mm/5x2.5x0.26in and weighing in 3.7oz. It has a 5MPix camera, 1GB of system memory, 2GB of storage and a memory card slot. It uses the Qualcomm MSM8255 platform with a 1.4GHz CPU. As you might have already guessed this phone is also protected and it has a Gorilla Glass cover for its 4Ф AMOLED screen (a new generation with fantastic 0.2ms response time vs. 24ms in regular TFT screens). It is a phone for everyone not a Batman gadget and it also has Android 2.3 onboard.
Fujitsu have worked a lot on tweaking the standard Android: some of the controls got bigger, they added the app folder feature and the graphic key feature for app launch. There added a lot of new stuff but tried not to mess with the core only make cosmetic changes which is a very pragmatic approach as it allows to save their UI when newer Android versions are available.
Another technology that used in all Fujitsu phones is the Human Centric Engine. The thing is, our hearing changes with age as we lose the ability to hear certain frequencies. Fujitsu solved this conundrum very simply Ц in the settings you can specify your age and gender. This information will be used by the media player and the calorie calculator (it counts how many calories you burn walking). It is simple and it works.
Fujitsu phones also have special sound settings for noisy environments which have already became standard for the company and now it became more personified Ц the phone plays you a number of tracks and you choose which one you like the best then the phone adjust the settings according to your choice.
Next stop Ц the Globe-Trotter smartphones created in cooperation with the British suitcase manufacturer also available in Limited Edition. On the pictures you can see that they have different battery lids, screens and interface while the rest of hardware is identical. I see no pint enumerating their specs Ц these are regular mid range phones.
Fujitsu also remember that there are women out there and specially for them designs womanly versions of their phones: modest ones for women of all ages (white, pink, golden) and with a touch of bling for younger ones (hearts and ribbons) like this phone below available with different body styles:
In the first body the buttons are made of crystals but they don't look like too much besides they have different color indication for specific events which is very convenient. These phones can also be charged via a wireless inductive charger (purchased separately).
These femphones also have a special app called Beauty Body Clinic that can suggest you an exercise program depending on your age, your flexibility etc. it is not a mere set of exercises the phone can actually assess the state of your health Ц it is a very useful interactive fitness guide.
Fujitsu has some other features that contribute to their Human Centric Engine. An example of this is the inconvenience to switch between keypad layouts to begin handwriting recognition or simply to add an emoticon. In Fujitsu phones you can simply swipe a smiley face to add it to your text.
And the last feature that blew my mind Ц Fujitsu decided to reinvent the alarm clock. Just think for a second what can possibly be improved in alarm clocks. The answer is the sleep phases Ц if we are woken in the wrong phase we will feel tired the whole day. To avoid that the phone monitors your breath and your movements by means of the motion sensor (I don't quite understand how this works, apparently it must be somewhere near you to do that). And it will only wake you when you are in the right phase to get up. You set the desired time to wake up and the phone will wake you up 5-10 minutes earlier or later depending on your sleep phase. There is a time limit after which the alarm clock will go off regardless of the sleep phase. This feature is called Sukkiri Alarm.
I think all the features I mentioned here are worth a separate article I merely tried to put them all in one. Now I want to add a few pictures of Fujitsu IT12S, a Windows Phone 7.5 smartphone with a 13.1 MPix camera, fully water resistant and featuring an unusual design. This phone is exclusive for the Japanese market only.
A bunch of other phones designed only for Japan:
Fujitsu also presented an LTE femtocell:
I don't want to go into details concerning Fujitsu's mHealth system I just want to say that it features a number of apps for smartphones and tablets that can collect your body readings from external sensors, analyze and store them on the dedicated web service. Below is a chart explaining how it works:
I saved this for dessert: a bunch of concepts from the Fujitsu showcase. The first one is a modular laptop called Crowd that displays your friends' info on its surface. The idea is not new but it looks pretty cool:
I like the futuristic crutch Aid with sensors that can read your blood pressure, pulse etc. It features an SOS button and a satnav system. The tiny screen displays your health information. I think it's a great device and hope it gets into production one day.
And the last prototype that may one day become real the Integral Cord. It is a wire that has cameras and lasers on its inner side and depending on your need you can make a screen of any size and shape. One form factor for work and another one for public transport:
Instead of a conclusion I want to say that every company and every employee has a dream. Some dream of mundane stuff, others think of impossible. And you can totally see the difference in thinking in the products they make. Fujitsu dram of other worlds and dimensions that is why their products are so dramatically different. I am hugely impressed by what I have seen in their showcase and most of all by their sense of balance and pragmatic logic. The company concentrates their efforts on things unnoticeable but that make all the difference. This is real hi-tech and it is not measured in MHz or GB.
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Published 24 January 2012
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