Saturday, August 7, 2010

Equinix Named “Silver Sponsor” of Cloud Expo Silicon Valley

SYS-CON Events announced today that Equinix, a provider of global data center services, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 7th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1-4, 2010, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.

Bulgaria indicates interest to acq CK

from the Yahoo MB, by yyy60:

FOCUS News Agency
06 August 2010

Hundreds of patients with oncological diseases denied treatment


Sofia. The “St. Ivan Rilski” University Multi-profile Hospital for Active Treatment had the ambitious idea of making radiosurgery treatment, known as CyberKnife, available in Bulgaria for patients with oncological diseases, the Duma daily reads. First Investment Bank offered funding for the project, but it would seem the Healthcare Ministry does not consider saving the lives of hundreds of patients diagnosed with cancer a priority. The hospital led negotiations with former Healthcare Minister Bozhidar Nanev and his successor Anna-Maria Borisova, but has still not been granted permission to rent premises and install the new technology.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Smartphone market grows 50% with 63 mln units shipped in Q2

from Telecompaper.com:

>>The worldwide smartphone market grew 50 percent year over year in Q2, driven in large part by makers of smartphones powered by Google's Android OS, according to a study by IDC. Vendors of smartphones shipped a total of 63 million units in Q2, compared to 41.9 million units in the same period a year ago. For H1, vendors shipped a total of 118.3 million units, up 54 percent from the 76.8 million units shipped during the first half of 2009. Google's smartphone partners, such as HTC and Samsung, posted the highest year-over-year growth rates in IDC's Q2 smartphone top ten vendor rankings. Four of the top ten vendors, all of whom predominantly ship Android-powered smartphones, posted year-over-year growth rates greater than 100 percent.

..

Nokia remained the top smartphone vendor worldwide in Q2, with 38.1 percent market share and 24 million units shipped, up 42 percent , but cited challenges on the high-end of the smartphone market from the competition, resulting in declining ASPs.

Research In Motion broke the 11 million unit shipment figure for the first time in the company's history, gaining 17.8 percent market share, due in part to the BlackBerry Pearl 3G and the BlackBerry Tour 9650 product launches across multiple markets. The company maintained its second place global smartphone position for the seventh consecutive quarter.

Apple maintained its global number three smartphone supplier position with 13.3 percent market share, and record shipments of 8.4 million units, up 61.5 percent.

HTC recorded positive progress during Q2, having more than doubled its shipment volumes to 4.8 million units, from a year ago, and posting healthy double-digit profit margins and steady ASPs.

Samsung supplanted Motorola in the top five smartphone rankings last quarter. The company shipped a record number of smartphones and posted its highest smartphone growth rate since the third quarter of 2008. Samsung benefited from a strong performance in the APEJ region where it launched Galaxy S series devices in markets such as South Korea. Samsung hopes to outperform the market again in the third quarter when it introduces the Galaxy S series of phones to North America.

Immersion on the move

from theStreet.com:

>>Immersion (IMMR) was one of several stocks trading below $10 poised to move on above-average volume Friday after the haptic technologies company reported quarterly financial results.

Immersion shares were on the rise after the company reported a second-quarter profit of a penny a share on revenue of $8.5 million, surprising analysts who had forecasted a loss of 7 cents a share and revenue of $6.5 million.

Shares of Immersion jumped by 45 cents, or 8%, to $6.05 in Thursday's after-hours session. The average daily share volume for Immersion is 103,000.

Immersion confirms good progress in turn around, ready to exceed 2010 guidance

Immersion Corporation (IMMR) reported 2Q 2010 results on Thursday, August 5th (see Company's Press Release and Seeking Alpha transcripts).

Revenues for the quarter were $8.5 million, higher than consensus of $6.52 million, and the Company also reported 2Q EPS of $0.01, 8 cents better than the analysts average expectation of ($0.07).

A look at the highlights from the quarter, first:

  • on track to meet or exceed the high end of the $25 to $30 million annual revenue guidance for 2010 (a phrase which sounds like a tremendous effort to postpone increasing outlook for the year to 3Q, more on this later);
  • cash and cash equivalents at $63,9 million, a slight decrease from the $64,6 million as of March 31;
  • achieved royalty and license revenue of $ 6,3 million in the quarter, compared to $ 6,4 million in 1Q, which is seasonally benefiting from the strong Christmas holiday period sales in mobility and gaming, that represent the majority of Immersion's royalties (as a reminder royalties for product sales are recognized the following quarter);
  • reduced operating expenses to $7.2 million, including non-cash charges related to depreciation, amortization and stock-based compensation. Excluding these non-cash charges operating expenses were $5.8 million during the quarter;
  • generated positive adjusted EBITDA of $2 million;
  • gross profit was $7.7 million, or 91% of revenues;
  • announced a new licensee, Toshiba, which included Immersion's haptic technology into its new Libretto W 100, a dual touch screen Windows Mini Notebook PC.

There is no doubt that these numbers exceeded all expectations and confirm that Immersion is on track in its turn around effort, started when the company decided to change its business model and concentrate on licensing its impressive IP, in exchange for royalties.

If we have a look at the royalty and license revenue stream, we get a nice visual confirmation that Immersion has probably turned the corner:



Royalties in the 2Q 2010 are 76% higher than in the corresponding quarter a year ago, a strong validation of the positive momentum for haptics in the market place (quotes from the conference call, Seeking Alpha transcripts):

Vic Viegas

The industry clearly is in the midst of a very favorable technology trends that are expected to drive strong adoption of haptics. As we move to the back half of the year and complete our three-year strategic plan, the opportunities in these large and rapidly growing markets provide a level of excitement we've never experienced before.


A bit of housekeeping, before we get into a deeper analysis of Immersion's potential for the next few quarters.

Product revenues ($1.9 million) also included approximately $1 million from the three medical product lines that were sold to CAE Healthcare (CAE) in the 1Q 2010. Going forward, Immersion will only recognize royalties from these product sales, that will be done directly by CAE Healthcare (and by the way, royalties will start being recognized in the 3Q from CAE, although Immersion booking such a high level of sales in the 2Q makes us believe that license revenues from CAE might take a bit longer to reach a noticeable level).

For the future, Immersion will only recognize sales from the virtual IV product line, and, to a smaller level, development kits, and in some cases components that the Company makes available to partners as they develop products.

Another one time event that was underlined during the call is related to the royalty and license revenue stream. During the quarter Immersion booked about $ 500,000 as adjustments made by licensees to previous reports. This was described as not usual by management, although the amount is bigger than average:

Shawn Boyd - Westcliff Capital Management

the conversation earlier regarding royalties and the reconciliation of royalties in gaming, if we pull out the $0.5 million, we end up at about $5.8 million, is that correct?

Shum Mukherjee

In terms of prices.

Shawn Boyd - Westcliff Capital Management

Correct.

Shum Mukherjee

Yeah.

Shawn Boyd - Westcliff Capital Management

Adjusting for that. And then my next piece for that is should I really pull that out? I'm going back to Vic where what you said it happens frequently. So how often does it happen and should I really skew everything out?

Vic Viegas

Well, it's something that occurs on a regular basis. As I said, in this particular quarter looking back at prior quarters, I don't think we've had a quarter where the amount was quite as large. So I would say that some of that probably will not recur in Q3, but as our current licensees adjust their reports as products were added and so on that those minor adjustments occur on a pretty regular basis.

Shawn Boyd - Westcliff Capital Management

Okay. So, an order of magnitude if you get a $200,000 in reconciliation payments and royalties per quarter, that's too unusual.

Vic Viegas

Yeah, I would say that wouldn't be terribly unusual now.


Immersion also issued guidance for the 3Q 2010:

for Q3 given our current visibility we see revenues coming in between $6 million and $6.5 million which is consistent with our historical seasonal trends.


We believe the Company might have been conservative in its forecast, as phone sales from partners in the mobility market were quite solid in the 2Q, and the Company should hopefully benefit from an increase in touchscreen market share.

Even at the mid point of guidance, Immersion would reach revenues of about $ 24,5 million for the first three quarters of the year, leaving a forecast of about $ 5,5 million for the 4Q to reach the high end of guidance ($ 30 million). Given the wider adoption of haptic that we expect for the second half of the year (when new royalty streams, like semi conductor partners, should also emerge), we believe Immersion is on track to exceed guidance and exit the year with royalties exceeding $7 million per quarter.

As we said, Toshiba was announced during the conference call as a new licensee. Their product is an interesting dual 7-inch display notebook.

While we believe Toshiba is a great win, the product itself sounds more like a concept PC than a product that will be sold in great volume. Here are a few comments from Engadget (emphasis added):


The 1.2-inch thick Libretto W100 is covered in a black brushed aluminum finish, and is surrounded by a single USB port, an SD card reader and headphone jack.

You can choose to extend the desktop to the other screen or you can hit the physical keyboard button and just use the bottom screen as a keyboard. Speaking of that virtual keyboard, Toshiba has created six different layouts -- yes, six! You can check out some of those in the gallery, but the split keyboard is pretty cool if you want to just use your thumbs, and we're big fans of the haptic feedback.


Hopefully Immersion will be able to make more inroads in the exploding tablet market:

Jeff Schreiner - Capstone Investments

There's a new kind of form factor coming out in the PC market that incorporates very large touch screens, tablet-based designs when we seen products such as the Apple iPad. Has Immersion secured any tablet based design wins either direct or maybe though chip competitors? Is there any timeline in which over the next 6, 9, 12 months we might be able to expect royalties from this new segment?

Vic Viegas

as you are aware, there are number of others that are also considering and utilizing the Immersion technology whether direct from Immersion or through our chip partner, so we do expect to capitalize on that trend.


The Company also expects to increase the number of licensees in the mobility sector:

Aaron Husock - Lanexa Global

Vic, going in the past you've talked about hopefully signing a new handset licensee before the end of this year and having our product launched by the end of the market. Could you give us update on that? Are things on track? When should we expect to hear from you on that?

Vic Viegas

Well, you're here when we are able to announce it, but I think what I said is that we are working towards signing one to two new cell phone licensees by the end of the year and we'll hopeful that have a piezo based phone launched during this year. So, we're still working toward those in anticipation.

Looking beyond next quarter's results, we believe Immersion will be benefiting from new royalty streams. We've already mentioned the chip industry, that should start shipping products including Immersion's technology in good volumes in the second half of 2010. If we look at the comments made recently by most semiconductor licensees, expectations are very good on this front - let's go through some of their conference calls, after quoting Vic's commenst on this vertical:

We've got chip partners launching their touch controllers with the Immersion haptics we hope to have solutions in the market this year from Renesas and Cypress (CY) and possibly even Atmel (ATML), so that's also positive.

Integrated Device Technology (IDTI)

John Barton – Cowen

Okay. Last question, if I could. You highlighted recent success in Capacitative Touch. Just update, if you would please, strategy as far as future generations of Touch, just the overall direction from a product offering there please?

Ted Tewksbury

So, what you are seeing right now in Touch is the traction that we are getting with buttons, sliders and scroll wheels, which are used in an increasingly large number of appliances, both electronic light goods and so forth. We have design wins in everything from monitors to ebooks to rice cookers and then white goods in China, smart phones. So, those touch buttons and scroll wheels and sliders are getting good design wind traction. However, it’s still at a relative low level as far as our overall revenue is concerned. The real reason, the strategic reason that we acquired latest technologies was for the full screen Touch technologies, which are in development and I am not at liberty right now to talk anymore about those products, but we will be introducing Touch products later on in the year. We are also integrating some of those technologies in more highly integrated ASSPs such s the intelligent power management IC that we talked about in the prepared remarks, which also has an integrated Touch controller. So that’s a quick status on Touch.

Atmel (ATML)


Revenues by market segment showed strength across almost the entire spectrum of markets, with particular strength in the cell phone market and consumer.

We experienced broad strength in most of our end markets primarily driven by smartphones, consumers and industrial applications. Touch related revenues delivered strong growth in Q2, driven primarily by our maXTouch solutions. During the second quarter, we ramped volume shipments to Samsung, HTC, and Motorola.

In addition, maXTouch continues to be designed into the industry’s leading smartphones as demonstrated by the recent market releases of HTC’s EVO 4G, Samsung’s Galaxy S, and Motorola’s Driod XTreme. We are particularly enthusiastic about maXTouch acceptance into new applications beyond the handset marketplace.

In June, we announced maXTouch support for touchscreens up to 15.6 inches. Market research from this forecasts touchscreen demand in larger screen formats, such as personal computers will exceed to 115 million screens by 2014 with tablets leading the way.

In addition to handsets and tablet PCs, touch controllers have began to proliferate into gaming consoles, mobile Internet devices, GPS, digital cameras, remote controls, printers, and a broad range of industrial applications.

...

As previously stated, maXTouch is experiencing extraordinary customer acceptance, and despite the fact that production shipments didn’t occur until Q1, based on strong bookings, backlog, and planned capacity expansions, we expect maXTouch will generate over $100 million of revenues for 2010.

Cypress Corporation (CY)

Adam Benjamin – Jefferies
Got you. And then Norm, a question for you on TrueTouch. You’ve kind of talked about $100 million as a number for this year. Based on what you’re seeing now plus or minus what do you think?

Norm Taffe
Based on what we’re doing right now, we’re still on track to more than double what we did last year. It’s not clear yet whether we’ll look to get all the way up to the $100 number but we’re certainly on our plan more for than double this year.

Brad Buss
And I think importantly, we added, we received the first significant orders from two more of the top eight handset suppliers this quarter, which are going to ramp for us in Q3 and Q4. So now we are shipping volume in Q3 at five of the top eight handset suppliers on touch and so the backlog is really starting to ramp for us.

While this has not been mentioned during the conference call, we believe that the casino gaming vertical might be at an inflection point, as proved by the European launch of new products incorporating 3M's technology (MMM), based on the relationship with Immersion:

3M today announced that its next-generation surface capacitive touch technology has been incorporated in gaming machines built in central Europe for deployment worldwide.

3M's multi-sensory touch system offers games machine manufacturers and operators the chance to provide video-based, haptic feedback without mechanical buttons

Bracknell, UK, 26 July 2010 - Diversified technology company 3M today announced that its next-generation surface capacitive touch technology has been incorporated in gaming machines built in central Europe for deployment worldwide. Gold Club d.o.o. of Slovenia selected the 3M MicroTouch MCT System for many of their gaming machines, including their 22-inch multi-user electronic roulette tables, to provide a more responsive and immersive user experience. Gold Club has adopted this 3M touch solution for its own-built machines and selected it for externally-manufactured machines throughout its casino operations.

The 3M MicroTouch MCT System consists of an enhanced 3M MicroTouch Sensor SCT3256, a hybrid 3M MicroTouch Controller MX touch and haptic feedback electronics, and two or more touchscreen actuators, according to screen dimensions. This system provides haptic feedback effects for on-screen video buttons so users actually 'feel' like they are depressing mechanical buttons.

Haptic feedback effects are created when the user simultaneously sees a video button depress, hears an audio file of the mechanical 'click' and feels a vibration in the touch screen's glass surface. The user instinctively interprets the combination of these three sensations as pressing a mechanical button, when in reality they are simply touching a solid glass surface.

Here are a few more comments, taken from Electronicstalk:

Gold Club's experience highlights the key advantages of next-generation touch screen technology for the casino gaming industry, according to Francesco Fasoglio, business manager, 3M Touch Systems Division.

'Game designers are looking for new ways to enhance players' gaming experiences and keep them engaged for longer,' he said.

'Tactile feedback response, as embodied in our MCT System, enlivens the usual slot functions and heightens bonus round play experience.

'As well as replacing mechanical buttons on standalone machines, it's also ideal for multi-user games,' he added.


Disclosure: Long IMMR

Thursday, August 5, 2010

IDT 1Q 2011 comments on touch

transcript from Seeking Alpha:

>>John Barton – Cowen

Okay. Last question, if I could. You highlighted recent success in Capacitative Touch. Just update, if you would please, strategy as far as future generations of Touch, just the overall direction from a product offering there please?

Ted Tewksbury

So, what you are seeing right now in Touch is the traction that we are getting with buttons, sliders and scroll wheels, which are used in an increasingly large number of appliances, both electronic light goods and so forth. We have design wins in everything from monitors to ebooks to rice cookers and then white goods in China, smart phones. So, those touch buttons and scroll wheels and sliders are getting good design wind traction. However, it’s still at a relative low level as far as our overall revenue is concerned. The real reason, the strategic reason that we acquired latest technologies was for the full screen Touch technologies, which are in development and I am not at liberty right now to talk anymore about those products, but we will be introducing Touch products later on in the year. We are also integrating some of those technologies in more highly integrated ASSPs such s the intelligent power management IC that we talked about in the prepared remarks, which also has an integrated Touch controller. So that’s a quick status on Touch.

Highlights from Atmel conference call

from Seeking Alpha transcripts:

>>Revenues by market segment showed strength across almost the entire spectrum of markets, with particular strength in the cell phone market and consumer.

...

We experienced broad strength in most of our end markets primarily driven by smartphones, consumers and industrial applications. Touch related revenues delivered strong growth in Q2, driven primarily by our maXTouch solutions. During the second quarter, we ramped volume shipments to Samsung, HTC, and Motorola.

In addition, maXTouch continues to be designed into the industry’s leading smartphones as demonstrated by the recent market releases of HTC’s EVO 4G, Samsung’s Galaxy S, and Motorola’s Driod XTreme. We are particularly enthusiastic about maXTouch acceptance into new applications beyond the handset marketplace.

In June, we announced maXTouch support for touchscreens up to 15.6 inches. Market research from this forecasts touchscreen demand in larger screen formats, such as personal computers will exceed to 115 million screens by 2014 with tablets leading the way.

It should be emphasized that at Atmel will ship multiple touch controllers into each system depending on screen size. We are already experiencing substantial customer design activity for touch-enabled tablets and expect volume shipments to begin in the fall of this year.

In addition to handsets and tablet PCs, touch controllers have began to proliferate into gaming consoles, mobile Internet devices, GPS, digital cameras, remote controls, printers, and a broad range of industrial applications.

...

As previously stated, maXTouch is experiencing extraordinary customer acceptance, and despite the fact that production shipments didn’t occur until Q1, based on strong bookings, backlog, and planned capacity expansions, we expect maXTouch will generate over $100 million of revenues for 2010.

...

Hans Mosesmann – Raymond James

Few questions on the larger screens or panels or touches being deployed and you may have multiple microcontrollers, for each microcontroller would there be the associated touch technology or is that the IP in like one place and then you’ll have the ASPs for each product for the microcontroller. In other words, do you get paid once for the touch technology and not multiple times?

Steve Laub

I’m not going to share too much detail, Hans, because of competitive reasons, but let me just tell you that we are selling multiple devices into that particular application, and you get paid for each device.

...

Raji Gill – Needham & Company

Excellent maXTouch revenue, great headlines, big high volume wins, any sense of your $100 billion revenue target for the year, whether that will be back-end loaded or will that potentially be equally split between the first half and second half?

Steve Laub

Given that production started in Q1, and it was really small then, you can count it’s quite back-end loaded.

Raji Gill – Needham & Company

Maybe could you talk a little bit about the design win pipeline for maXTouch, any color there in terms of are you expecting and there is a $100 million target incremental new design wins, new SKUs or is it just kind of a then combination of high sell-through forecast for the existing designs?

Steve Laub

With respect to being achieving the $100 million target for the year, it’s based on design wins that have already been won. Some of which have not been announced because the customers have not yet released their products. So it’s based on already won designs and obviously some of those is being released to production and obviously increases with respect to designs that have already been announced and released by the customers. What we’re obviously designing in now is going to impact and influence next year’s revenue.

...

Steve Laub

So we’re not giving a forecast right now of 2011 numbers for maXTouch. Today was the first day we gave any indications of the expectations for this year for maXTouch. Clearly, a lot of factors are going to influence that how next year is. But as stated in the earlier question, we are ramping each quarter, the revenues for maXTouch and clearly, the amount we’ll be doing in Q4 will be at a higher run rate than $100 million. What that will be? I’m not going to talk about today and speculate exact numbers right now. We’ll give you further updates as it becomes relevantly close to that timeframe.

Equinix's Vincent DiMemmo to explore key elements of cloud deployment architecture

from cloudcomputing.sys-con.com:

>>Having great application software and fast hardware are only half the battle. A scalable deployment architecture is equally necessary to achieve the economic and operational advantages of mainstream cloud services.

In his session at the 7th International Cloud Expo, Vincent DiMemmo, General Manager, Global Cloud & IT Services Segment at Equinix, will explore key elements of cloud deployment architecture and calls attention to the considerations necessary for a high quality end-user experience.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Capstone Investments Downgrades Immersion Corp (IMMR) to Hold; Limited Near-Term Catalysts + Valuation

from StreetInsider.com:

>>Capstone analyst says, "In our May 7th IMMR note, we highlighted limited catalysts following 1Q10 earnings report. Beyond our near-term concerns we believe several longer-term opportunities remain as catalysts; LCD integration, additional haptic licensee/potential litigation, CY/ATML/Renesas integration or new Piezo based products which will likely offer higher ASPs. However, many of these opportunities don't likely impact model until FY11 or beyond. Given significant rise in shares of IMMR, and forecasted limited near-term catalysts, we believe investors should "take a breather" and look for lower levels to build longer-term positions."







:

Monday, August 2, 2010

3M has announced that its next-generation surface capacitive touch technology has been incorporated in gaming machines built by Gold Club in Slovenia.

from Electronicstalk:

>>Gold Club's experience highlights the key advantages of next-generation touch screen technology for the casino gaming industry, according to Francesco Fasoglio, business manager, 3M Touch Systems Division.

'Game designers are looking for new ways to enhance players' gaming experiences and keep them engaged for longer,' he said.

'Tactile feedback response, as embodied in our MCT System, enlivens the usual slot functions and heightens bonus round play experience.

'As well as replacing mechanical buttons on standalone machines, it's also ideal for multi-user games,' he added.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gaming Machines Take Haptic Feedback for a Spin

3M today announced that its next-generation surface capacitive touch technology has been incorporated in gaming machines built in central Europe for deployment worldwide.

3M's multi-sensory touch system offers games machine manufacturers and operators the chance to provide video-based, haptic feedback without mechanical buttons

Bracknell, UK, 26 July 2010 - Diversified technology company 3M today announced that its next-generation surface capacitive touch technology has been incorporated in gaming machines built in central Europe for deployment worldwide. Gold Club d.o.o. of Slovenia selected the 3M MicroTouch MCT System for many of their gaming machines, including their 22-inch multi-user electronic roulette tables, to provide a more responsive and immersive user experience. Gold Club has adopted this 3M touch solution for its own-built machines and selected it for externally-manufactured machines throughout its casino operations.

"As both an operator and manufacturer we want to deliver the best user experience to our customers," said BoĊĦtjan Stopar, General Manager of Gold Club. "We looked hard at the alternatives and the most powerful advantage was the strength of MicroTouch. MicroTouch is very nice for the user: it is fast, intuitive and has solved problems we have had in the past with mechanical integration and calibration."

Gold Club's experience highlights the key advantages of next-generation touch screen technology for the casino gaming industry, according to Francesco Fasoglio, business manager, 3M Touch Systems Division: "Game designers are looking for new ways to enhance players' gaming experience and keep them engaged for longer. Tactile feedback response, as embodied in our MCT System, enlivens the usual slot functions and heightens bonus round play experience. As well as replacing mechanical buttons on standalone machines, it's also ideal for multi-user games."

The 3M MicroTouch MCT System consists of an enhanced 3M MicroTouch Sensor SCT3256, a hybrid 3M MicroTouch Controller MX touch and haptic feedback electronics, and two or more touchscreen actuators, according to screen dimensions. This system provides haptic feedback effects for on-screen video buttons so users actually 'feel' like they are depressing mechanical buttons.

Haptic feedback effects are created when the user simultaneously sees a video button depress, hears an audio file of the mechanical 'click' and feels a vibration in the touch screen's glass surface. The user instinctively interprets the combination of these three sensations as pressing a mechanical button, when in reality they are simply touching a solid glass surface.

Gold Club's electronic roulette tables incorporate up to 10 touch screens all attached to a single main computer. The MCT System, with its 5.4ms minimum contact time and greater than 99 per cent positional accuracy, ensures fast response to finger input on multi-player games like roulette. Touch screen materials ensure 91.5 per cent light transmission (±1.5 per cent) for a crisp and vibrant display, and the robust 3M MicroTouch ClearTek surface coating provides optimal anti-glare properties. The scratch resistant top coat provides a smooth, easy glide touch surface.

Haptic feedback tools being developed for laparoscopic surgery training

from gizmag.com:

>>Laparoscopic gastric banding is a common surgical treatment for morbid obesity and the most critical factor in the success of the operation lies in the hands of the surgeon – who needs the proficiency and skill to insert slender, handheld tools into the body of the patient. A team of interdisciplinary researchers, led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has recently won a US$2.3 million federal grant to develop a touch-sensitive virtual reality simulator that will realistically replicate how performing a gastric band operation feels – making it ideal for developing and teaching fundamental surgical skills and for assessing physicians wanting to be certified as a laparoscopic surgeon.
...
This new testing and training system that uses haptic technology – or touch feedback – will allow surgeons to practice and refine the surgical skills needed to perform a laparoscopic procedure in their own virtual operating theater.

Samsung’s Android Tablet Coming Within 60 days

from digitaltrend.com:

Samsung Electronics Co plans to introduce tablet computers this quarter based on Google’s Android operating system, joining a growing list of firms seeking to challenge Apple’s popular iPad.

IDC: Mobile phone shipments up 18.5% compared to the first half of 2009

from intomobile.com:

International Data Corporation (IDC) keeps meticulous records of who ships what in the mobile phone space and today they’re reporting that shipments for the first half of 2010 totaled 620.6 million units, up 18.5% from the 523.5 million units shipped during the first two quarters of 2009.
...

When you compare Q2 2010 to Q2 2009, shipments are up 14.5% to 317.5 million units from 277.2 million units a year ago. As for which vendors are hot, and which vendors are not, we’ve got Nokia in first place with 35% market share in Q2 2010, next is Samsung with 20.1%, LG with 9.6%, RIM and Sony Ericsson both have 3.5%, and “others” commanding 28.3% of the market. That’s a lot of Chinese clones and legit iPhones.

The biggest gainer, in terms of units shipped, from Q2 2009 to Q2 2010 was Research in Motion. They grew 40% in just the span of 1 year. Samsung is next, growing 22%, followed by Nokia’s 7.7% growth, and finally LG’s partly 2.7% gain.

...

Ramon Llamas, Senior Research Analyst with IDC’s Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team, has the same thing on his mind:

Directly contributing to this [growth in Q2 shipments] is growth in the smartphone category. Companies with a strict focus on the smartphone market, like RIM, Apple, and HTC have clearly benefited from steadily increasing user interest. But it’s not just smartphone vendors that have driven the market forward – it’s also the companies with a presence among entry-level handsets and mid-range devices, which have long been the domain of the worldwide leaders.