Edge of tomorrow, but not quite there yet

Thin margin: It's an interesting innovaton, but the Edge Sense 2 technology featured in HTC Corp.'s new smartphone needs work, according to Long Island-based ABI Research.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A Long Island-based transformative-tech oracle is putting the squeeze on a Taiwanese smartphone innovation.

Oyster Bay-based reviewer ABI Research is actually impressed with the technology built into HTC Corp.’s newly released U12+ device – but not so much with its actual usability, which according to ABI’s Teardowns unit is somewhat lacking.

The Teardowns team – which sounds like it’s out to destroy new tech, but instead endeavors to dissect it for a more comprehensive understanding – praised many of the phone’s user-interface innovations, particularly its Edge Sense technology, which lets users control certain functions by simply squeezing the sides of the device.

But the Edge Sense 2 tech (the feature actually debuted with HTC’s last-generation U11 model) falls flat when it comes to the actual user experience, according to Jim Mielke, ABI Research’s vice president of teardowns.

HTC has embedded nine ceramic resonators (they send ultrasonic waves through the device) and 10 ultrasonic sensors (they interpret the waves) into the sides of the smartphone. But even with that hefty portion of next-gen tech, “the Edge Sense 2 activation indicators will cause frustration,” Mielke notes – and that’s just the start of the U12+’s problems.

For instance: “Acoustical ceramic resonator vibration” replaces traditional speakers, and as a result, the phone suffers from poor audio quality. Then there’s ultrasonic ceramic vibration’s abilities regarding fingerprint-identification security – adequate enough, according to ABI Research, but “a minor player compared to capacitive sensing techniques.”

Jim Mielke: Main squeeze? Not yet…

Most damning, there’s a fairly steep “learning curve” required to produced the desired result via that cutting-edge squeeze functionality, reports the Teardowns team.

“The user receives no feedback as to how soft or hard to squeeze for the intended response,” Mielke noted. “Although we have seen a few attempts of bringing vibration technology into smartphones, we have not seen a compelling experience to make the technology a mainstay.”

Despite these shortfalls, Edge Sense 2 is “impressive from a technical point of view,” if only for its ambitious grasp – even the attempt puts HTC “on the forefront of ultrasonic ceramic vibration for grip sensing,” according to ABI Research.

“These issues could be overcome with software updates,” Mielke added. “As the technology evolves, it could find some very interesting applications.”

That sort of balanced reviewing is part and parcel for the Teardowns team, an essential service of ABI Research, a multinational “market foresight advisory firm” offering “visionaries” strategic guidance on compelling, transformative technologies.

Headquartered in Oyster Bay, ABI Research also boasts operations in New York City and Texas, as well as two offices in the United Kingdom and one in Singapore. In addition to product reviews, the circa-1990 company has offered recent analyses of the U.S. cybersecurity market and the global “smart home” market, a ranking of worldwide rideshare vendors and a host of other tech-related materials.

The Teardowns team focuses specifically on innovative design features and new semiconductor components – a two-pronged mission to provide competitive analyses and to guide emerging enterprises toward streamlined design solutions.

 


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