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TI envisions phone becoming central repository for apps, media and info

The typical smartphone today can do a lot more than its physical limitations allow. TI’s Avner Goren imagines what it could do in the future if that potential were unleashed

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When contemplating the capabilities of the device of the future, Texas Instruments’ Avner Goren finds it useful to consider the capabilities of the devices today, many of which aren’t readily apparent. The typical smartphone today is much more powerful than it lets on, containing advanced multimedia and applications processors that are quickly outgrowing the tiny devices they’re embedded in, said Goren, director of strategy for TI’s mobile application processor business. The computational power of the phone most certainly will only increase in the future, but Goren believes much of the industry’s efforts will focus on unlocking the power trapped inside.

“We have more or less what a supercomputer used to be 20 years ago and what a laptop was five years ago on the phone,” Goren said. “Here we confront the biggest problem. There is a disproportion between the processing power of the phone and its physical dimensions. The phone today can do much more than what it is able to interface to the human being.”

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The typical phone today has a quarter video graphics array (VGA) display, meaning it renders one fourth of the typical 640-by-480 line resolution defined by IBM for the original PC monitors, Goren said. Smartphones are starting to support full VGA on larger-screen devices and will eventually migrate to Wide VGA, a format that would allow a small-screen device to fully render the typical Web page. While these are vast improvements over the display quality of devices from five years ago, the graphics processers in the typical device have already far outpaced what the displays are capable of rendering.  The processors in smartphones today could reproduce high-definition video resolutions of 720 pixels (720p) and soon 1080p.

“Now can you present 1080p of the cellphone screen of three inches?” Goren said. “The answer is ‘yes,’ but nobody would see the difference. We need to open up the bottleneck. The first step is to open up the display. With a video output port, we can connect the cellphone to a projector or an external large-screen TV. Today we can do this with a wire. Over time we’ll do this wirelessly. What happens is the cellphone becomes a compute device, but the means by which we interact with it is through a much larger display.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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