8 Things You Should Have Seen at CTIA 2011

ORLANDO, Fla. -- International CTIA WIRELESS 2011 -- Light Reading's editors have left sunny Orlando and headed back to reality to review our notebooks, photos, videos and some booth tchotchkes and reflect on CTIA . We've broken four days of demos down to the top eight things we thought were cool at the annual wireless confab:

WiTricity's Wireless Electricity
I saw a demo of WiTricity Corp.'s wireless electricity technology. It was amazing. CEO Eric Giler and advisor Seth Horowitz walked me through a demo much like Giler delivered to the TED audience in 2009, but to see it firsthand gave me a chill. Here’s a video clip of Giler’s 2009 speech:

What’s interesting about WiTricity's approach as a company is that it aims to be more like Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) and less like a Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) or Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC). WiTricity won’t make devices. It will, instead, produce its technology and release something like a software development kit so that anyone in any industry can imagine new uses for transferring electricity over short distances using pulsing magnetic fields instead of lasers, infrared technology or radio signals. Because the magnetic fields can pass electricity safely through humans, objects and concrete walls, someday we might have parking spots that can charge electric cars and desks and couches capable of juicing up your iPhone, iPad and laptop while all three items sit unplugged in your briefcase. (Phil Harvey)

SRS 3D Audio
High-definition content, especially that of the third dimension, is all the rage on mobile, but flat audio could ruin an otherwise 3-D experience. That's where SRS Labs Inc. (NASDAQ: SRSL) and its HD, 5.1 surround-sound audio comes in to let users hear the bullets whizzing by in mobile games or immerse themselves in a movie, no matter the small screen size. The company is working its way onto more phones through partnerships with Samsung, High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), Qualcomm and others. Bob Lyle, SRS's director of mobile development, says that in a few years, people won't buy phones unless the audio is 3-D enhanced. But, you have to hear it to believe it. (Sarah Reedy)

Cobra Phone Tag
If you’re constantly misplacing your keys but always know where your smartphone is, then the Cobra Phone Tag system might be perfect. Coming this July, the company will sell you a $60 Bluetooth fob that can connect to your keys, bags or other valuables. Download the associated app for an Android or BlackBerry smartphone and it will beep at you if your phone and the fob get separated. In addition, the Cobra Tag app can record the GPS location and the time of day the items became separated and send this information to a pre-set contact list via email or text message, or to a Facebook or Twitter account. Pressing a button on the Cobra Tag key fob will ring the paired smartphone if -- by some chance -- you have your keys but can’t find the phone. (Dan Jones)

HTC Scribe
HTC's tablet, the Evo View 4G for Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), comes equipped with a capacitive stylus that lets users write on the screen. Some apps already include this functionality, but HTC takes it across any screen or website a user pulls up. It makes it easy to take notes or highlight important points on a page, while also recording audio. You can also take a screen grab of your view and share the edited page with others. It may seem to defeat the purpose of a touchscreen device, but the reporter in me is really excited about this way to make a pricey tablet more like a pad of paper. (Sarah Reedy)

Qualcomm's Augmented Reality Demos
Peter Marx at Qualcomm wrote about augmented reality (AR) back in February, and since then I’ve been waiting to see some of the demos that Qualcomm and its partners have cooked up. The stand at CTIA didn’t disappoint. AR is cool because it uses mobile broadband to layer information on top of any thing, person or place, so the applications that come from this could be the basis of a completely different kind of Internet experience than we’ve had to date. Pointing at someone and watching their last Facebook or Twitter posts emerge as dialog boxes is at once fascinating and creepy, but I can also see how quickly it can make our already life-changing smartphones -- and the networks powering them -- that much more indispensable. (Phil Harvey)

VGo's Robot Girl
Trolling around the Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) booth was VGo's Robot Girl (seen here and here). The robot had a screen on its top and speakers on either side and streamed in video of Ashley from Boston, who could also control the robot's movements via her computer mouse. You can buy the whole kit (minus Ashley) for a few grand and a monthly service cost. The real gating factor on such a remarkable application was not bandwidth, it turns out, but network coverage and reliability. (Heather Stanic, LRTV Production Director)

AT&T's Networked Slippers
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) CTO John Donovan showed off networked slippers that are part of a trial with Texas Tech University to monitor the gait of elderly patients to track and eventually prevent falls by detecting when an older person has become unsteady. He also demoed a pill bottle with a visual alarm that goes off when a patient is supposed to take the medication. It also can be networked so that caregivers or family members are alerted when an elderly patient hasn't taken their medication. (Carol Wilson) Carrier IQ Mobile Intelligence software
Next-generation networks like Long Term Evolution (LTE) and HSPA+ are supposed to be faster and all-around better, but these networks are still uncharted territory for the wireless operators. To track performance, operators or handset makers can embed Carrier IQ's software in devices for real-time feedback on the customer experience, handover from 3G and how voice calls are affected when data sessions are running. It's not a sexy technology, but it's necessary to prove 4G isn't akways just FauxG. (Sarah Reedy)

See the rest of our CTIA coverage here, and tell us what knocked your socks off at CTIA in the comments below.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

COMMENTS Add Comment
sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:09:15 PM
re: 8 Things You Should Have Seen at CTIA 2011

I was not impressed by 3D demos on Sprint's new HTC tablet and smartphone. It only worked if you held it a very particular angle. The tech has a ways to go before it's compelling.

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