It’s good to keep in touch – something that Edi Haug and Laura Schwengber know only too well. The pair have been friends since childhood. Within the first year of their friendship, nerve damage inflicted by an inherited genetic condition robbed Haug of his sight and hearing. He was nine. But children are natural innovators. “We started to invent languages and forms of communication just because we were kids and we wanted to play,” says Schwengber. “It was annoying that he couldn’t hear me, and I couldn’t write something down,” she says. So the two invented their own tactile language.
As Haug and Schwengber grew older, they replaced their private language with one that is more widely understood: Lorm, a tactile alphabet spelled out with strokes to the hand. It was invented in the nineteenth century by Hieronymus Lorm – an anonymous pseudonym, for Austrian-born poet, journalist, and novelist Heinrich Landesmann – and is still used today by the deaf-blind community in German-speaking countries.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Lorm to Haug and Schwengber. But Lorm, and other forms of tactile signing, have their limits. A reliance on physical contact between communicators has historically constrained the social circles of the deaf-blind to those they can meet face-to-face (or more accurately hand-to-hand) on a regular basis – and even within this relatively small group of people, only those who take the time to learn and practice Lorm can really become part of a deaf-blind individual’s social network.
For instance, Haug’s social circle currently consists of about five people: his mother, Schwengber, teachers, and therapists. Once a year he spends about 10 days visiting relatives in Stuttgart in Southern Germany. “The first five days they need to practice Lorming, so they can remember the letters, and by the tenth day when they are quite fast, it’s time to go back home,” explains Schwengber.
Bieling, a researcher at the Design Lab in Berlin, has developed a glove kitted out with fabric pressure-sensors. By translating a tactile hand touch alphabet into digital text, the mobile glove could eliminate the necessity of hand-to-hand physical contact for deaf-blind communication. Even better, because a great deal of online communication is text-based, the glove could act as a translating device that allows people who are deaf-blind to communicate freely with anyone – and for anyone to communicate with them.
It’s an invention reminiscent of the outlandish gadgets seen in James Bond movies, and it won Bieling first prize in the 2014 Falling Walls Lab competition – a kind of TED Talks meets Dragon’s Den – held annually in Berlin.
The first prototype was made from Gore-Tex fabric and felt much like an ordinary glove, Bieling explains. It’s embedded with small vibrating motors, and “as soon as you receive an incoming message, it starts vibrating on those dots where the letters are positioned”, he says. In the current version, users can adjust the intensity and speed of the incoming tactile messages according to their reading skills.
What’s more, the whole hand area of the glove is now wired for sensory input, “just like a tablet [computer]”, he says. “The system recognises both the position and pattern of the finger movement.” So users can also spell out their own messages.If a sign isn’t “typed” quite correctly, the Lorm glove system recognises the closest symbol – just like a spell checker on your smart phone. For example, a circle in the hand would be an ‘S’, explains Bieling, and even if you type a triangle or a square, the system is clever enough to recognise the letter ‘S’ as the closest correct symbol.
Speaking through Schwengber’s translation, Haug describes the glove prototype as a bit slower than what he is used to in terms of receiving messages. “It’s like his teacher or his mother Lorming,” says Schwengber, compared with her own speedy pace. “But he really likes it,” she says.
Bieling’s project is part of his doctoral studies exploring links between design and ability. He argues that feeling disabled is a question of design – a ramp, for instance, is easy for anyone to ascend, even if they are in a wheelchair. He hopes that his design will enable deaf-blind people to engage with a broader spectrum of their community and “gain access to a broader range of information, thus enhancing their independence”. But he also hopes that gaining knowledge about alternative communication systems can profit everyone.
Haug, now 22, currently lives with his mother in Spreewald, about 100km south of Berlin. He is studying massage therapy in the hopes of pursuing it as a profession. He would like to move to Berlin, explains Schwengber, but it’s a possibility that has thus far eluded him because of the lack of assistance available. The glove could expand Haug’s ability to stay in close touch with those closest to him while living at a distance. But it could do more than that: it could allow him to expand his currently small social circle dramatically.
World in your hands
Lately, Haug, with help from Schwengber, has been having fun on Twitter, a medium enabling him to converse with people who need never know that he is deaf-blind. On social media, Haug is “just a person behind the Twitter account saying something”, explains Schwengber. Haug describes it as a bit like playing carnival, because “you just mask up and say anything you want”, translates Schwengber. “Content matters, not the person,” she explains. So Haug gets a kick out of the reaction from followers when he Tweets amusing things, something he’d be able to do more easily and independently with his own Lorm glove.
Asked about the first thing he would say with a Lorm glove of his own, Haug says he would talk to his cousin in Stuttgart and ask him if he can remember the name of an interesting film they recently spoke about. (Schwengber and Haug often go to the cinema – where Schwengber simultaneously translates the movie for Haug via Lorm).
Most of us take for granted the digital revolution and the amazing new connections it has offered. For those constrained by a barrier of unseen sights and unheard sounds, it was once unexplored territory – but with the Lorm glove, they might just have that world in the palm of their hands.
Samsung to invest $115 billion in its foundry business by 2030
Samsung is earmarking $9.5 billion a year for Samsung LSI and Samsung Foundry.
Samsung Electronics is one of the largest semiconductor players around, and the manufacturer is investing $115 billion (133 trillion won) over the next 12 years to take on Qualcomm and Intel. Samsung says its goal is to become the world leader in semiconductors and logic chips, and the company will invest $9.5 billion a year from now through 2030.
Samsung will invest $63.4 billion (73 trillion won) toward domestic R&D — where it is looking to add 15,000 jobs to “bolster its technological prowess” — and spend $52 billion (60 trillion won) toward production facilities that will make the logic chips. Samsung has long been the dominant player in the memory business, but with that market shrinking the South Korean manufacturer will be looking to diversify.
While the $115 billion seems like a staggering amount at first, it’s in line with what Samsung has been spending in recent years. Just last year alone Samsung invested over $15 billion in R&D, and Intel also spent over $10 billion toward developing new products.
LG V50 ThinQ 5G launch in South Korea delayed
The delay is due to LG wanting to further optimize the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset and Qualcomm X50 5G modem inside of the V50. LG also said it’s working with Qualcomm and South Korean carriers to improve 5G service and phone interoperability.
LG V50 ThinQ 5G price & release date: What we know so far (it’s not much)
LG didn’t say when the V50 will be available in South Korea. Android Authority reached out to LG for comment on a new release date and whether the delayed launch in South Korea will affect the U.S. launch, but did not receive a response by press time.
The delay comes at a bad time for LG, which saw rival Samsung launch its first 5G smartphone April 5 in South Korea. LG likely had hoped to use the Galaxy S10 5G’s launch momentum for its own 5G smartphone, but now we don’t know when the V50 will debut.
That said, LG might have dodged a very big bullet by delaying the V50’s launch. Business Koreareported last week that Galaxy S10 5G owners have struggled with poor 5G connectivity and an inability to switch to 4G LTE. Samsung pushed out an update that supposedly addressed the issues, but the update didn’t help much.
Samsung snubs Apple on 5G modem supply, leaving few good options for the 2020 iPhones
Thanks to the patent war with Qualcomm reaching a crescendo mode, last year Apple’s iPhones shipped exclusively with “Intel inside” as far as cellular connectivity is concerned. That, however, is not an ideal solution for Apple, as Intel’s modems are behind the curve when it comes to features, so it has been shopping around for other options.
Apple could go with Samsung, Huawei or MediaTek’s 5G modems, but each of those choices comes with severe drawbacks. Samsung will likely charge an arm and a leg for its 5G brainchild, America’s homeland security institutions would balk at Huawei’s involvement due to geopolitical considerations, while MediaTek simply isn’t up to par yet.
SAMSUNG’S 5G MODEM OPTION IS OUT FOR APPLE, BUT WHOSE IS IN?
Surprise, surprise, even those unpalatable options have now become harder to pick from, as Korean media is reporting today that Samsung has declined Apple’s advances for its Exynos 5100 5G modem. Not only does the company need its production for the Galaxy S10 5G that will be shipping tomorrow in Korea but it could very well need it for the Note 10, too.
Samsung, it turns out, is simply unable to churn out 5G modems in the quality and quantity that Apple would demand, or so it claims. According to one “electronics industry official” there:
Apple inquired about the supply of 5G modem chip from Samsung Electronics System LSI division. However, we know that Samsung Electronics System LSI answered that the supply volume of its smartphone 5G modem chip is insufficient.
There you have it – unless Apple resolves the bad blood between the companies, Qualcomm is likely to sit its 5G push out, so the last remaining option is for Apple to go it alone, either by acquiring Intel’s wireless modem assets or starting from scratch (highly unlikely). All of these options mean either a lot of extra expenses for Apple in order to deliver a 5G iPhone in 2020, or falling behind the competition by launching one that is a cycle or two behind.
Last summer, insiders claimed that they have seen internal Intel communication regarding a memo that Apple sent Chipzilla. In it, Apple warns that it might no longer need Intel’s wireless modem designs, including the 5G ones, starting with the 2020 iPhone crop. Intel reportedly halted research in this area and might disband the whole 5G modem undertaking, as Apple was its largest and perhaps sole customer.
5G gets going and Apple’s 2020 iPhones can’t go FOMO
South Korea just launched its nationwide 5G network, with the Galaxy S10 5G being its poster child. Upon the phone’s release there tomorrow, Korea will have all of its largest networks offering 5G plans. In fact, Korea Telecom announced three 5G price tiers. Among those, there is a “Super Plan” that offers truly unlimited 5G data without speed caps, and this one will go for the equivalent of $70, a pretty good price no matter how you slice it. In fact, the Super 5G Plan is somewhat cheaper than the current unlimited 4G LTE plans in Korea, so the 5G future seems bright, and we are expecting more and more 5G handsets to enter the fray this year, especially towards the tail end of 2019.
A true nationwide shift to 5G networks is not happening this year in the US anyway, so iPhone users won’t be missing all that much until then. Next year, however, most of the flagship phones of the spring season will probably have some sort of 5G connectivity support, be it with a Qualcomm, Samsung or Huawei modem, and Apple could feel the pinch in that regard. If in the fall of 2020 Apple hasn’t solved its 5G modem supply options, however, there might be image and perception consequences. As virtually all of Apple’s 5G avenues have dried up and will incur extra expenses, patching thing up with Qualcomm would be a smart solution so we’ll keep our eyes on the patent lawsuit as it moves through the court system.
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