A couple of press releases fluttered on to my desk yesterday which give some pointers to where future mobile phone tech is heading. The first, from Texas Instruments launched the TI NaviLink chip, which combines GPS, Bluetooth and FM transmission technology on a single low power chip. The chip reduces power by 50% over comparable technologies, as well as reducing footprint by 40% and not only that but improves TTFF (time to first fix) on A-GPS by up to 80%. Expect to see the chipset in new handsets by the middle of next year.
The mobile user experience is further enhanced by enabling consumers to enjoy simultaneous activities such as navigating, having a conversation using a Bluetooth headset, while also transmitting an MP3 file to the car radio using the FM transmit capability.
The second release details the adoption of USB Inter-Chip as the new SIM card standard for mobile phones. What does it mean? Well 12 mbps SIM card data transmission for a start, with the added bonus of being able to store and access much higher capacity applications like multimedia and Internet, instead of the boring old contacts and SMS stuff on SIMs currently. The new standard is not likely to hit phones for at least two years though, as there’s still lots of wrangling going on over connects and other such engineering issues.
At present, SIMs and handsets communicate at speeds reminiscent of dial-up modems–the communication link is still based on smart card technology introduced 20 years ago. With USB, cards and phones would pass data back and fourth at up to 12 megabits per second, allowing for downloads of, for example, picture phonebooks, links between SIMs and PCs and, eventually, convergence between handsets, PCs and other devices using the SIM as a focal point.