Huawei Technologies is aiming to bring touch-free smartphones andmore inexpensive cloud storage to users, as the company boosts itsresearch and development spending in order to bring "disruptive"technologies that will alter the market landscape. "We are focused on disruptive technology and taking interestingideas and turning them into something exciting," said John Roese,general manager for Huawei's North American research and developcenter, on Friday. [ Keep up on the day's tech news headlines with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: Wrap Up newsletter . ] The China-based company is best known as a supplier oftelecommunication equipment. But the firm has been ambitiously expanding into both the consumer and enterprise sides of the technologybusiness, aiming to provide products including Huawei brandedsmartphones, tablets along with servers and cloud computingofferings. |
Last year, the company spent $3.76 billion on research anddevelopment, resulting in 11,000 new employees hired for thecompany's R&D efforts. For this year, Huawei's R&D spendingis expected to grow by 20 percent to about $4.5 billion. Roese, who spoke to journalists on Friday, manages a research anddevelopment staff of 1,000 employees in North America, and was aformer CTO for Nortel. One technology the company has been workingon is touch-free smartphones, allowing the devices to read users'hand gestures in order to initiate commands. "What if you use the camera of a tablet or a smartphone and use itto capture the visualization of your hands," he said.
"So imagineinstead of touching a smartphone, you can actually have athree-dimensional interaction with it." Touchscreen smartphones and tablets currently allow for the use ofseveral fingers to issue certain commands when pressed on thedisplay. But users only have five fingers on a hand, limiting thenumber of commands that can be made, Roese said. Using handgestures, however, would allow users to more easily bring objectsforward, push them back or rotate them within the smartphone'sgraphical user interface, he said. Other companies already offer motion-sensing input.
Microsoft forexample uses motion sensing in its Xbox 360 Kinect device. Lastmonth, Sony also announced the Android-based smartphone, the Xperia sola , which can read finger gestures to highlight links in text. Huawei, however, expects its own touch-free smartphones will need apowerful graphics processor and also two front-facing cameras tofully read a user's hand movements, according to Roese. Thetechnology will be added incrementally over time, starting withsmall features, and likely start on tablets first, he added. Last year, the company sold 20 million smartphones.
But for 2012,the company plans to reach even higher, and has the goal ofsmartphone sales hitting 60 million units. Outside of mobile phones, Huawei also wants to make cloud storageless expensive. The company has partnered with CERN , the European Organization for Nuclear Research, to investigatenew storage techniques. Through the partnership, Huawei's cloud storage system is beingused to process and store 15,360TB of physics data taken each year.Roese believes the research could revolutionize computing storagearchitecture.
"If we are successful, which I think we will be, it literally couldchange the economics of storage by an order of a magnitude," hesaid. Suppliers could give infinite backup and only charge peoplewhen they needed to restore it, while still making money, he said. "Of all the projects, and there are lots of good projects, that isthe one that could have a profound impact on the market," he said.
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