Computex Taipei 2006: The biggest trade show in Asia
Computex is in it's 26th year. And this year is going to be bigger and better than ever before. For some time now Taiwan has been one of the major centres of technology development in the World a fact that is proven by the sheer number of Taiwanese companies visiting CES and CeBIT.
On their home ground in Taipei, Taiwan Computex expects to have over 1,300 exhibitors displaying their products. There will of course be the familiar companies such as GlobalSat, Haicom, Leadtek, Mio, Rikaline and RoyalTek, but there will also be lots of other manufacturers displaying their latest developments.
PocketGPSWorld.com are going to be attending the show to report on some of the new products that will be hitting the shops in time for Christmas. Computex runs from the 6th to the 10th of June at the World Trade Centre in Taipei, Taiwan.
Created by Mike Barrett on Thursday, June 01 @ 20:13:47 EDT
Thanks to the friendly people of Taiwan.
This has been my first trip to Asia, and I must extend my thanks to the people of Taiwan who have been so friendly and made my trip one of the most memorable business trips of my life. I have made many new friends here and have been overwhelmed by the hospitality extended to me by the GPS companies and other friends.
Special thanks must go to a particular person who has put themselves out above and beyond any expectations and welcomed me as part of their family. I was even invited to join a family outing and get a taste of the real Taiwan fishing and barbecuing the catch. An unexpected and humbling experience for me that I will treasure. I only wish that all my business trips were like this one.
Article by Mike Barrett on Sunday, June 11 @ 03:47:10 EDT
The connected car: A full GPS and multimedia experience
One of the highlights of the show for me was the demonstration of the power of the PC for multimedia and navigation. This car has a PC driving 4 video screens with a mixture of DVD/video output, Digital TV, Navigation, Playstation, Internet, in fact just about anything you care to think about is available here.
It is all driven by a small footprint PC in the back of the car and is connected to the outside world by a pair of Digital TV antennas, a GlobalSat GPS receiver, and a 3G mobile phone. This of course is connected to the car's sound system giving an amazing multimedia experience. And of course handsfree phone usage.
Having been driven around Taipei by some taxis I was more than a little concerned about the safety aspect of implementing Digital TV in cars where the screen is visible to the driver. I travelled in quite a lot of taxis where the driver was watching TV as he was driving, quite a frightening experience.
Article by Mike Barrett on Sunday, June 11 @ 03:28:04 EDT
I think I have seen these boxes before somewhere...
Well one night as I was in a taxi being driven back to the hotel I saw a bright flash... Hello I thought that looks familiar. Well the next day as I was out on the road I kept my eyes peeled and sure enough I saw a familiar looking box.
Situated in the middle of the central divider was a Gatso camera. I realised then that my friend's car had a radar warning device which had been going off at very regular intervals. Being aware now I kept a look out and sure enough there were at least 2 types of gatso visible and what looked like a SPECs as well.
At the moment radar based warning systems are still in use over in Taiwan, but this could be an area to capture a new database, especially as the GPS companies are starting to introduce more and more SatNav products into the Eastern markets.
Article by Mike Barrett on Saturday, June 10 @ 19:17:21 EDT
Non-GPS related products...
Obviously the Computex trade show is not just GPS systems, it also encompasses all types of technology from humble components to fully configured top of the range high availability industrial strength computer servers. I was most impressed with the innovative use of a pond pump: it was used to circulate coolant for a CPU. The exhibitor got a bit upset when I felt the piping to see how hot it was. I got the impression I was not the first to try nor would I be the last...
Two products caught my eye, the first was a rear view mirror, the second tyre (or tire if you are in the US) pressure monitors.
The rear view mirror was interesting as it was a bluetooth hands free car kit. It had full functionality and even displayed the caller id on the mirror. I thought it was quite neat as it integrates into the vehicle naturally and provides an essential safety function at the same time as its normal job.
The tire pressure monitors are special valves which determine the inflation pressure of the tyres and send signals to a central monitoring unit inside the car using RFID technology. I have often experienced low tyre pressures and the effect they have on the handling of the car, whilst not always being visible to the naked eye.
Article by Mike Barrett on Saturday, June 10 @ 18:56:09 EDT
Confusing product lines
We all know about companies outsourcing design and manufacture to other companies in order to reduce the costs of getting product to market. This can be very confusing when you meet a number of new compaines for the first time who all have exactly the same (at least outwardly) products and they all claim to be the manufacturer. I did a little digging around and think I managed to identify the real company making the devices, but it can be really confusing sometimes...
Article by Mike Barrett on Saturday, June 10 @ 18:40:44 EDT
Globalsat show the GH-615 sports GPS
Well after Richard from Globalsat had visited our Edinburgh expo I was not expecting to see any new products from Globalsat. They did of course surprise me. They actually had a new product and one which we saw in CeBIT but is about to be announced in the next day or so.
Globalsat were showcasing a new all in one navigator the GV350 as we saw at CeBIT. This will have a 3.5inch tft screen and a Samsung 266Mhz processor, and 64Mb of memory. I expect the software platform will be the latest version of Smart2Go from Gate5.
Also on display was the latest release in the sports and fitness range of GPS systems the GH-615. This is a SiRFStarIII system, with a watch based design. I will be getting more information on these devices when I visit the Globalsat offices on Monday.
Article by Mike Barrett on Saturday, June 10 @ 18:31:23 EDT
Chance meetings, Planned meetings...
I suppose that at a technology trade show you should expect to meet some GPS industry people, after all that's what we go there for. I travelled half way across the world to meet a couple of new people and re-acquaint myself with a couple of others.
I had made some arrangements to meet various exhibitors at the show prior to coming out here, so this was not a surprise. I have met some of the people from the GPS companies that do not normally make it to the USA and European shows. I have also had the pleasure to meet some of my GPS industry contacts for the first time.
Whilst wandering round the exhibition I met a fellow English speaker from Australia: Boyd Dainton of www.travroute.com.au they are the Co-Pilot distributors in Australia, but not only that they also maintain a database of accident black spots in Australia.
Then a short time later whilst I was at the Globalsat booth I met Holger Weiss, the Vice President of Gate5 who produce the Smart2Go navigation software in Germany.
The most surprising meeting though was just walking down one of the aisles and meeting Joe Kee from BuyGPSNow.com in the USA. Lutz, Darren and myself had met Joe at CES in Las Vegas, and now we were reunited once again. We spent the evening in a Japanese restaurant in the Banquiao suburb of Taipei talking over developments we had discovered at the show.
My final meeting will be with GlobalSat at their offices on Monday shortly before flying home later in the day.
Article by Mike Barrett on Saturday, June 10 @ 18:02:02 EDT
Innovative developments from Haicom
Haicom were displaying a couple of interesting developments in the form of an SD GPS receiver with memory and a BT GPS for the car cigar lighter socket.
The HI-505SD SD GPS receiver showed some very clever lateral thinking. Globalsat introduced the first SD GPS receiver and then updated it to the SD-502 this uses SDIO technology and relies on driver software for the device compatibility. The Haicom receiver is implemented in a different way! Rather than use the SDIO features which restrict the compatibility of the device they have created a "dual" device. The first part is an Mini SD card, whilst the second is a Bluetooth GPS receiver, these are both packaged in the same device. It works by taking the power for the GPS from the SD card slot whilst still retaining the memory capabilities of the interface. You then connect the GPS to your application using a Bluetooth serial port. No extra drivers, no compatibility issues...
The second development is the HI-407BT Bluetooth cigar lighter receiver. Again Haicom are not the first to produce this type of device. We first saw the Holux one at CES back in January. The difference with the Haicom version is that the antenna can be tilted to give optimum positioning to pull in the GPS signals. Although the GPS receiver uses the SiRFStarIII chipset often the cigar lighter socket is not located in a position to receive a good strong signal. This can be improved by allowing the antenna to be adjusted to pick up the strongest signals.
Article by Mike Barrett on Saturday, June 10 @ 17:43:00 EDT
BenQ wins the Best Choice Award for Computex
There was only one winner in the Computex awards this year that was GPS related. This was the BenQ Azteca 516 Navi and Multimedia PC. This is a double DIN sized unit.
Dont blame me for the fluffy character holding the pink fluffy award. Some poor soul had to wander around the exhibition dressed in that outfit. In 30 degree heat that cant have been much fun...
Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, June 07 @ 20:27:10 EDT
Royal Digital launch a new Bluetooth GPS
Not all companies that we met at Computex have a stand in the exhibition halls. So without a stand we met in the most appropriate place: The local Starbucks...
Royal Digital are not a well known GPS manufacturing company. The company was created in 2004 by a number of GPS specialists, and has been producing OEM systems for well known GPS companies until now.
The Royal Digital BS4100 is about to be released and it will be a welcome addition to the BT GPS market. When most companies are producing SiRFStarIII receivers Royal Digital have decided to use a different GPS chipset. The NEMERIX GPS chipset has a power saving of around 12% over the SiRFStarIII and there are also claims of increased positional accuracy in situations where weak signal is being received.
One of the nice things about the Royal Digital BS4100 though is the style of the casing. All too often the effort is placed in the design and engineering of the GPS hardware and the casing is just wrapped around it. Royal Digital have put a lot of thought and design into the whole package and have a striking and attractive GPS receiver that performs well with less power requirements and thus longer battery life.
I will be bringing a test sample back to the UK with me so we will be able to prove these claims very shortly.
Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, June 07 @ 20:15:38 EDT
Day 2. I found Destinator
Yesterday I reported that the software companies from Europe and North America were missing from Computex. Well I was wrong. When I was going round the main hall today I found Destinator.
Destinator only had a small booth tucked well out of the way, but at least they were there. The booth was nowhere as near as impressive as the CeBIT one, and they were mainly showing Destinator 6.
Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, June 07 @ 19:32:49 EDT
Computex day 1
The first day of Computex is over and I have sore feet, the jet lag has really kicked in now, and it has been raining for over 12 hours solidly. For me computex is a very different type of show to CES, 3GSM and CeBIT. The big household names of European and American SatNav are missing and are replaced by many better and lesser known Taiwanese companies.
As far as GPS is concerned the highlights of the show are Personal Tracking, TMC and of course PND. The show is less about applications (although there are plenty on show) but much more about hardware. And there is so much of it here. I have only covered a small part of the expo, but have met up with a lot of our well known companies such as Leadtek, Royaltek, Eten and D-Media.
GPS aside there are enough technologies companies here to give even me information overload. The biggest two appeared to be Microsoft and Intel. Unfortunately Intel didn't have any WinCE devices on display, in fact the only thing smaller than a PC they had was mobile phones showcasing their nand technologies. Microsoft on the other hand had a big stand featuring a number of their partners and regular presentations (in English fortunately) of the Windows CE platform and capabilities. A strong feature they highlighted was the integration of GPS applications into mobile devices.
Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, June 07 @ 03:12:02 EDT
Fire in my Hotel
When I got to Hong Kong and I was waiting for the connecting flight to Taipei my friend told me that there had been a fire in my hotel and that I probably wouldn't be able to stay there. I thought she was kidding so I went along with her. I was suggesting that she should find me another hotel, or that I should stay round at her apartment...
Well after 24 hours of travelling I managed to arrive at the Sheraton Hotel in Taipei, only to find that they really had had a fire in the afternoon and there was a heavy smell of smoke and the electrics were out. The hotel was still open, but running on reduced services. It would seem that they suffered a small electrical fire in the basement, which had knocked out some of the power and a lot of the communications. After a little discussion and a room change I finally managed to get back in touch with the world.
All I need now is a few hours sleep and a chance to get over the jet lag a bit. Computex in 7 hours time...