SMARTPHONE

February 9th, 2015

SMARTPHONE:

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The figure above shows transition of telephone from landline phone to smartphone.

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Prologue:

Alexander Graham Bell’s invention has come a long way since its prototype in 1876. The latest model of telephone requires no external wiring, fits in your pocket, takes dictation, and answers any question in seconds. For most of us, our compulsion to look at that little screen is so powerful that we can’t go for any more than a few minutes without checking it. Smartphones have gained so much significance in our lives that choosing one is a little like choosing a religion. Our preference for either an iPhone or an Android model seems to suggest something fundamental about who we are. Smartphone is a combination phone having computer, web browser, camera, GPS etc and therefore, if you lose your smartphone, you lose everything. There are three screens of the ‘Digital Lifestyle’ in the 21’st century; the PC, the TV and the Smartphone. With the plethora of software and services available on smartphone, it is by far the most important digital screen in life. One article suggested that using and looking at the smartphone constantly makes us use our left brain (logical, linear thinking) because that side of the brain deals with language and reading. Using the smartphone constantly can effectively keep us ‘locked’ on left brain mode for the majority of the day. This means that our brain is ‘out of balance’ and we are not allowing our right brain to engage. The right side of the brain (creativity, intuition) allows thinking “out of the box”, coming up with creative ideas, and solving problems using our intuition. That doesn’t sound good for business, entertainment, communication or health. We have to give smartphone a break. We have to show that we are not slaves of that cold rectangular piece of plastic, metal, and glass in our pocket. Few years ago, I did not know the difference between iPod, iPad and iPhone. Now I know that iPod is a portable digital media player & pocket computer, iPad is a tablet computer and iPhone is a smartphone, all three designed and marketed by Apple Inc. Now I also know that if you have latest iPhone 6, you probably won’t need iPod and iPad. That is the power of smartphone.

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Introduction to smartphones:

People are now very fond of smartphones due to the many advantages that they offer. One can have increased connectivity, immediate access to data and information, play games and do office work with this hand-held device. Smartphones are altering the world in a remarkable manner by becoming an essential commodity for young people and drastically providing options such as having a personal assistance that can help in almost all demands. Smartphones gained popularity recently; however they already have a huge influence on human behavior. For instance, people are giving their smartphones more attention than their spouses which may create cracks in their relationship.  It should be considered that it is due to Smartphone’s internet compatibility and application features that people now have boundless access to their families, friends, photos, videos, games, music, news, and basically all knowledge accumulated by humankind everywhere they go. Smartphones are changing the way people shop and bank. Some people have changed their shopping, financial and payment behavior as a result of owning a smartphone and these people are called “Smartphonatics”. These reasons show how smartphones have become an important device which people cannot leave home without. A smartphone can keep people connected with the world at their fingertips. Millions of people around the world are carrying around smartphones that keep them constantly connected to the internet.

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Smartphones with Internet access, GPS, sensors, and various applications are recently seeing explosive adoption. The Apple iPhone, Blackberry smartphones, and the Google Android phone are a few prominent examples. In a slightly more advanced capability bracket also lie mobile Internet devices (MIDs) such as the Nokia N810 and Moblin-based devices that provide a richer untethered Internet experience. With popularity, such devices also see new applications by a broader set of developers, beyond the mobile staples of personal information management and music playback. Now mobile users play games; capture, edit, annotate and upload video; handle their finances; manage their personal health and “wellness” (e.g., iPhone Heart Monitor and Diamedic). However, with greater application power comes greater responsibility for the mobile execution platform: it is now important to track memory leaks and runaway processes sucking up power, to avoid or detect malicious intrusions and private data disclosure, and to manage applications with expensive tastes for high-volume data or advanced computational capabilities such as floating-point or vector operations. As smartphone technology advances, smartphones will be used in new contexts and environments. Along with wearables, smartphones will offer connected screens in the workplace and in public. User experience will be key.

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Prominent smartphones:

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Basics of phones:

Landline phone:

A telephone, or phone, is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when they are not in the same vicinity of each other to be heard directly. A telephone converts sound, typically and most efficiently the human voice, into electronic signals suitable for transmission via cables or other transmission media over long distances, and replays such signals simultaneously in audible form to its user. The essential elements of a telephone are a microphone (transmitter) to speak into and an earphone (receiver) which reproduces the voice of the distant person. The transmitter converts the sound waves to electrical signals which are sent through the telephone network to the receiving phone. The receiving telephone converts the signals into audible sound in the receiver. A landline telephone is connected by a pair of wires to the telephone network, while a mobile phone, such as a cellular phone, is portable and communicates with the telephone network by radio transmissions. Although originally designed for simple voice communications, most modern telephones have many additional capabilities. They may be able to record spoken messages, send and receive text messages, take and display photographs or video, play music, and surf the Internet. A current trend is phones that integrate all mobile communication and computing needs; these are called smartphones.

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VoIP/IP phone:

The invention of the transistor in 1947 dramatically changed the technology used in telephone systems and in the long-distance transmission networks. With the development of electronic switching systems in the 1960s, telephony gradually evolved towards digital telephony which improved the capacity, quality, and cost of the network. The development of digital data communications method, such as the protocols used for the Internet, it became possible to digitize voice and transmit it as real-time data across computer networks, giving rise to the field of Internet Protocol (IP) telephony, also known as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a term that reflects the methodology memorably. From a customer perspective, IP telephony uses a high-bandwidth Internet connection and specialized customer premises equipment to transmit telephone calls via the Internet, or any modern private data network. The customer equipment may be an analog telephone adapter (ATA) which interfaces a conventional analog telephone to the IP networking equipment, or it may be an IP phone that has the networking and interface technology built into the desk-top set and provides the traditional, familiar parts of a telephone, the handset, the dial or keypad, and a ringer in a package that usually resembles a standard telephone set. A VoIP phone or IP Phone uses Voice over IP (Voice over Internet Protocol – VoIP) technologies for placing and transmitting telephone calls over an IP network, such as the Internet, instead of the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN).

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Cell phone:

The Cell Phone(CP) also known as mobile phone/mobile/cell/hand phone/wireless phone etc is defined as a mobile electronic device which is used in voice/data communication within a specific geographical network area known as CELL, which are interconnected to increase coverage area to a very long distance.  CP is basically a sophisticated Radio which emits radio waves which is a part of the spectrum of Electromagnetic Waves.

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Hybrid phone:
Hybrid systems merge analog, digital and VoIP telephony into a single transparent experience for the user. Connecting the outside world to your internal phone network typically involves specialized wiring and equipment, and forces a choice between traditional telephony and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Hybrid phone systems utilize sophisticated signal management codecs to route any kind of call technology to any other kind.

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Camera phone:

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A camera phone is a mobile phone which is able to capture photographs. Most camera phones also record video. Most cameras, and most mobile phones, are camera phones. Images are usually saved in the JPEG file format. The camera phone solution allows instant sharing of pictures. As it’s automatic and instant, the user does not have to use a cable or removable media to connect to a personal computer. The principal advantages of camera phones are cost and compactness; indeed for a user who carries a mobile phone anyway, the additional size and cost are negligible. Smartphones that are camera phones may run mobile applications to add capabilities such as geotagging and image stitching. A few high end phones can use their touch screen to direct their camera to focus on a particular object in the field of view, giving even an inexperienced user a degree of focus control exceeded only by seasoned photographers using manual focus. However, the touch screen, being a general purpose control, lacks the agility of a separate camera’s dedicated buttons and dial(s). Some camera phones use CMOS image sensors, due to largely reduced power consumption compared to CCD type cameras, which are also used, but not in today camera phones. Some today camera phones even use more expensive Back Side Illuminated CMOS which use energy lesser than CMOS, although more expensive than CMOS and CCD. Camera phones can share pictures almost instantly and automatically via a sharing infrastructure integrated with the carrier network. The resulting technologies, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) and Sha-Mail were developed parallel to and in competition to open Internet based mobile communication provided by GPRS and later 3G networks. Modern smartphones have more connectivity and transfer options with photograph attachment features.

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Videophone:

A videophone is a telephone with a video display, capable of simultaneous video and audio for communication between people in real-time. Videophone service provided the first form of videotelephony, later to be followed by videoconferencing, webcams, and finally high-definition telepresence. In the present day videophones have become widely available at reasonable cost, although not widely used in everyday communications for a variety of reasons. However, they are particularly useful to the deaf and speech-impaired who can use them with sign language, and are becoming increasingly popular for educational instruction, telemedicine and to those with mobility issues. Videophone calls (video-calls or video-chat) differ from videoconferencing in that they expect to serve individuals, not groups. However that distinction has become increasingly blurred with technology improvements such as increased bandwidth and sophisticated software clients that can allow for multiple parties on a call. In general everyday usage the term videoconferencing is now frequently used instead of video-call for point-to-point calls between two units. Both videophone calls and videoconferencing are also now commonly referred to as a video-link. Today the principles, if not the precise mechanisms of a videophone are employed by many users worldwide in the form of webcam videocalls using personal computers, with inexpensive webcams, microphones and free videocalling Web client programs.  The widest deployment of video telephony now occurs in mobile phones, as nearly all mobile phones supporting UMTS networks can work as videophones using their internal cameras, and are able to make video calls wirelessly to other UMTS users in the same country or internationally. The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is a third generation (3G) mobile cellular system for networks based on the GSM standard.

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The figure below depicts video call on videophone:

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Smartphone is a type of mobile phone:

A mobile phone (also known as a cellular phone or cell phone) is a phone that can make and receive telephone calls over a radio link while moving around a wide geographic area. It does so by connecting to a cellular network provided by a mobile phone operator, allowing access to the public telephone network. A mobile phone is more frequently called a cellular phone or cell-phone. These communication devices connect to a wireless communications network through radio waves or satellite transmissions. In addition to telephony, modern mobile phones also support a wide variety of other services such as text messaging, MMS, email, Internet access, short-range wireless communications (infrared, Bluetooth), business applications, gaming, and photography. Mobile phones that offer these and more general computing capabilities are referred to as smartphones.

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Smartphone:

A smartphone is a cell phone that is based on a mobile operating system (OS). Smartphones typically include the features of a phone with those of another popular consumer device, such as a personal digital assistant, a digital camera, a media player or a GPS navigation unit. Later smartphones include all of those plus a touchscreen interface, broadband internet, web browsing, Wi-Fi, 3rd-party apps, motion sensors and mobile payment mechanisms. It comes equipped with applications and is set up for Internet access. Browsing the Internet or using one of the many applications available to do things such as track a run or check the weather is made simple. Smartphones come equipped with everything that a standard cellular phone has, such as voice service and text-messaging capabilities. There are many advantages to having a smartphone. Most come equipped with a GPS and combine the features of a personal digital assistant (PDA). Smartphones give you instant access to the Internet to stay on top of your email, watch a video or search for a place to eat. Plus, it is still a cell phone, so you are able to make and receive calls as normal. Once you define smartphone and understand the benefits, you want to know any drawbacks of this device. While smartphones offer many advantages, there are some downsides. Almost all cell phone companies require that you have a data package with a smartphone. This increases your monthly bill. When you use applications and the Internet on your phone, your battery life is relatively short. Also, some people who are used to using keys have a hard time adjusting to a touchscreen, especially for texting. Smartphones have come down in price over the past few years since they have grown in popularity. Many contract cell phone companies offer reduced rates on various models with the agreement to a two-year contract. Even prepaid services offer low-cost options for smartphones. Smartphones are a great advancement in technology. They combine many features and products into a simple device, making them a convenient option for almost everyone. In between simple mobile phones and smartphones, there is a third category of device – the feature phone. While smartphones have all the features of standard phones, run a complex OS and have a huge library of apps available, feature phones mimic the abilities of smartphones in a more limited way, offering built-in apps for email, web browsing and social networking but not allowing the user to add extra apps to his device. Ironically, the least spectacular thing about a smartphone is the phone. A smartphone can cut in and out and drop calls like an ordinary cellphone, and the more users within the cell tower’s reach, the more likely interruptions will occur.

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Smartphone is a mobile phone that operates on an operating system, similar to a mini computer. Smartphones are basically that – a mini computer. Smartphones offer a variety of features that allows advanced computing capability and connectivity. They offer a variety of features such as calling capabilities, computing capabilities, video conferencing, online surfing, cameras, media players, GPS navigation units, etc. Any mobile phone that lets you do the work of a computer is considered as a smartphone. Smartphone are powered by operating systems such as Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, etc.  The term ‘smartphone’ was introduced into the market by Ericsson in 1997, when it used the word to describe its GS 88 ‘Penelope’ concept as a smartphone. There is no clear distinction that decides which phones are smartphone and which phones are not. However, with the increasing technology and offerings in a phone, the category has expanded to include all the new features that are currently available in the market.

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Jubien (2013) defined the smartphone as a handheld computing device that has the ability to perform functions such as telephone calling, cellular and wireless internet connecting and downloading, installing and running applications. “These technologies and new forms of mobile communication and collaboration have been widely adopted by young people and integrated into their everyday lives” (Milrad & Spikol, 2007). According to The World report ninety percent of the world population has access to mobile technologies and networks (Gedik, Hanci-Karademirci, Kursun, & Cagitay, 2012). As a result the smartphone is a steadily emerging technological tool that is being utilized in educational environments to support and enhance the learning process (Clough, Jones, McAndrew, & Scanlon, 2007). “The rapid proliferation of mobile phones among students is generating a novel platform for the development of technology-supported learning experiences” (Echeverria, et al., 2011). The smartphones’ ability to shift between a multitude of built-in and downloaded applications and functions allow it to be a versatile educational tool (Jubien, 2013).

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A smartphone is a mobile phone with highly advanced features. A typical smartphone has a high-resolution touch screen display, WiFi connectivity, Web browsing capabilities, and the ability to accept sophisticated applications. The majority of these devices run on any of these popular mobile operating systems: Android, Symbian, iOS, BlackBerry OS and Windows Mobile. A smartphone is expected to have a more powerful CPU, more storage space, more RAM, greater connectivity options and larger screen than a regular cell phone. High-end smartphones now run on processors with high processing speeds coupled with low power consumptions. That means, they’ll allow you to play 3D games, browse the Web, update your Facebook account, call, and text much longer than you used to. In addition to the features mentioned earlier, smartphones are also equipped with innovative sensors like accelerometers or even gyrscopes. Accelerometers are responsible for displaying screens in portrait and landscape mode, while gyroscopes make it possible for games to support motion-based navigation.  The earliest touch screen smartphones used resistive touchscreen displays, which required the use of slender pointing objects known as styli (or stylus in singular form). Most of the later models however, like the iPhone and most Android phones, employ capacitive displays, which feature multi-touch finger gestures.

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Smartphone is a combination of cell phone and handheld computer that created the greatest tech revolution since the Internet. A smartphone can do everything a personal computer can do, and because of its GPS, much more. Although screen size is a limitation, increasingly better voice recognition eliminates most typing, and text and video are easy to read and watch, especially on large screens (Galaxy S, Note, iPhone 6+, etc.). A smartphone combines cellular telephone, Internet access for e-mail and Web, music and movie player, camera and camcorder, GPS navigation system and a voice search for asking a question about anything. A smartphone is much more personal than a personal computer, because it is with you all the time when traveling and nearby if you use it as your main phone.

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Defining a smartphone by functionality:

One definition of the smartphone largely defines it by the combination of other features with phone capability into a single multifunction device. Early smartphones were primarily personal digital assistants with phone capabilities. As smartphones evolved, more functionality like Internet access or media storage and playback capabilities were added.

Defining a smartphone by architecture:

Another definition of a smartphone is articulated by those who believe that using a mobile operating system is the core of what the smartphone is. In this case, any phone using an operating system like iOS or Android that runs apps qualifies as a smartphone. However, many smaller phones now also use mobile operating systems. These devices would not usually be considered as full-fledged smartphones, as most smartphones have a high-performance computing architecture in comparison to other mobile devices.

Defining a smartphone by physical features:

The defining feature of the modern smartphone is almost certainly the touchscreen. Touch-sensitive screens allow the smartphone to offer up an endless variety of interfaces to the user and open up the phone’s surface to display images and information over almost the entire area. Earlier smartphones might have used stylus devices or other forms of navigation to achieve the same effect. Very early smartphones are more likely to have integrated a physical keyboard of some kind, though many modern phones still include them as well. A smartphone is also usually somewhat larger than other phones to permit a large display.

Understanding smartphone-like devices:

As the smartphone class has evolved, devices both smaller and larger have taken on smartphone features. Smaller phones with touchscreens and slideout keyboards and even some flip phones use mobile operating systems and run some apps. The line between these devices and “true” smartphones is usually based on processing power and interface features. On the other end of the spectrum, some tablets or “phablets” integrate tablet computing with phone features. Many consider these devices too large to qualify as phones, while others would classify them as simply very large smartphones.

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Cell phone vs. feature phone vs. smartphone:

The simplest way to tell a cell phone apart from a smartphone is to determine whether or not the device has a mobile operating system.  A smartphone gives its owner access to just about every kind of data usage he or she might desire. It is, in essence, a pocket computer which may even be able to read documents attached to email. Traditionally, the cell phone was clearly differentiated by its lack of a mobile operating system. That is to say, a smartphone has inside it something similar to what runs a home or office computer, just much smaller and designed to take more bumps. A mobile operating system is much like what’s powering your personal computer at home or at work. In the mobile world, though, the software goes by different names. While cell phones don’t have operating systems at all, smartphones can be powered by:

•Windows Mobile

•iPhone OS(iOS)

•Google’s Android

•Symbian OS

•RIM’s BlackBerry

•Palm’s WebOS

•Linux

Of these, Linux is the only one which is also used to operate full scale computing systems.

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Having an operating system similar to a computer allows smartphones to accomplish some functions that are unique to them:

•Reading documents attached to email

•Synching to home or office servers

•Showing streaming video

•Using GPS to locate and navigate

Having an operating system also requires that a smartphone must have a full keyboard to allow for user input. The keyboard may be a small physical keyboard that slides out or is otherwise attached to the screen. Alternatively, it may be a virtual keyboard on a touchscreen, where the user taps on the image of keys.

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Feature phone:

Feature phone is a bridge between cell phone and smartphone. Smartphones have larger displays and faster processors than so-called feature phones. Where the definition of a cell phone becomes tricky is in distinguishing between the stripped down models offered for users who truly want a phone with the most limited functions and the stuffed feature phones created for people who really want a smartphone but can’t bring themselves to buy one yet. Feature phone is a category of mobile phones that have minimal features and are moderately priced. These phones are aimed at customers that want a medium range phone that is not overly priced and also offers some of the features of a smartphone. A feature phone has more functions than a basic phone but less features than a smartphone. It can be considered that feature phones offer functions that are required and can be important in daily life. However, with the constant rise in technology a feature phone will have more advance capabilities than the feature phones that were available a couple of years back. The constant evolution of technology ensures that feature phone category is open and expanding, with new devices that are being added to the category. Feature phones can also be marketed under various other terms such as: smartphone lite, smartphone (by certain people such as Bell Mobility) and low-end smartphone.

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A feature phone is a class of mobile phone; the term is typically used as a retronym to describe low-end mobile phones which are limited in capabilities in contrast to a modern smartphone. Feature phones typically provide voice calling and text messaging functionality, in addition to basic multimedia and internet capabilities, and other services offered by the user’s wireless service provider. In an effort to provide parity with smartphones, modern feature phones have also incorporated support for 3G connectivity, touchscreens, and access to popular social networking services. However, their functionality and support for third-party software is still relatively limited in comparison to smartphones—as a result of this contrast, some feature phones are also referred to as dumb phones. Feature phones are marketed as a lower-cost alternative to smartphones, especially in emerging markets. However, even in these markets, manufacturers have, in recent years, begun to produce and sell low-cost smartphones in an effort to tap into markets where adoption of high-end smartphones has been low. In 2011, feature phones accounted for 60 percent of the mobile telephones in the United States and 70 percent of mobile phones sold worldwide. Smartphones accounted for 51.8 percent of mobile phone sales in the second quarter of 2013, resulting in smartphone sales surpassing feature phone sales for the first time. Hence, since 2015, feature phones have been completely relegated to ultra low end category.

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Here is a brief summary of what you can expect from a cell phone, a feature phone, and a smartphone:

Features Cell Phone Feature Phone Smartphone
Local and Long Distance Calling Yes Yes Yes
Camera Most Yes, often both still and video Yes
Text Messaging Most Yes Yes
Photo Transfer Capability Some Yes Yes
Email No Yes Yes
Internet Access No Yes Yes
Wi-Fi Capability No Some Yes
Music Player No Some Yes
GPS Navigation No Some Yes
Access to Apps for Social Networking, Travel Planning, and Games No Some Yes
Headphone Jack No Some Yes
Status Symbol Never Never Some

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Non-smartphones (dumb phones):

Smartphones have become a prominent component in our daily lives. It has become a huge part in who we are and how we live. Smartphones are also the top one thing on many people’s list of things they cannot live without. Smartphones weren’t always the smartphone we have now. They have gradually changed and evolved from the once landlines, basic phones that would allow us to make calls to a phone that allows to do almost everything. The popularity of these technologically advanced phones has earned them their own category known as smartphones. Any phone that doesn’t belong in this category is dubbed as s non-smartphone. A non-smartphone is a phone that does not belong in the smartphone category, which basically means that it does not have an operating system, computing capabilities, GPS, syncing capabilities, video conferencing, etc. A non-smartphone can also be a basic or a feature phone. A basic phone is any phone that allows the user basic features such as sending/receive calls and texts. A feature phone is a budget phone; it is a phone that has cut down on many features of a smartphone to offer a budgeted counterpart of the phone. A non-smartphone can also offer internet connectivity and browsing capability, but it is usually limited. A non-smartphone is a broad category that incorporates any other phones that are not smartphones. The popularity of smartphones has also increased the cost of using cell phones in many countries. Purchasing a smartphone in many countries requires people purchasing a data plan compulsory. This requires people shell money on a data plan, even if they do not require it or use it. A lot of people that do not require a cell phone for anything other than making/receiving calls or text are now opting for non-smartphones as a money saving option.

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Basic Features of a Smartphone:

When it comes to the basic features smart phones most phones have the same core functionality. This would be the ability to act as a communication device, a multimedia device, and a mini application operating platform.  One of the first basic features of a smart phone is that it has the ability to not only made and receive phone calls, text messages, and voicemail, but that it also had the ability to access the Internet. Most smart phones have a built-in browser, which is proprietary to the maker of the phone. However, recently major browsers have begun to develop versions of their software which will run on smart phone operating systems. This allows the user to choose what Internet browser they are most comfortable with. All cell phones can send and receive text messages, but what sets a smartphone apart is its handling of e-mail. A smartphone can sync with your personal and, most likely, your professional e-mail account. Some smartphones can support multiple e-mail accounts. Another basic feature of smart phones is the ability to access digital media. This means that the user can load music, video, and pictures onto their phone and be able to enjoy all of their media while on the go. Digital media devices have been around for many years, but with smart phones incorporating the functions of these devices, users now have less items to carry around, less expense to invest in technology, and more convenience by being able to access, share, and utilize their digital media all from one easy-to-use interface. Almost every smart phone on the market has the ability to access digital media files.  Most smart phones, even those at the lower end of the quality spectrum, incorporate some sort of audio video recording technology. On most every smartphone on the market has some type of camera built in. Most phones have voice recording functions as well. This means that a person can easily take pictures, shoot video and even record ideas and make notes to themselves while on the go. One of the biggest features of smart phones is their ability to make use of small computer programs called apps. These applications can perform a wide variety of functions for the user. Everything from looking up sport scores to displaying animated cartoons for key functions can be carried out with the use of apps. Almost all smart phones have the ability to access a repository of thousands of apps making the functionality of smart phones almost limitless. More smartphones can access the Web at higher speeds, thanks to the growth of 3G and 4G data networks, as well as the addition of Wi-Fi support to many handsets.

QWERTY Keyboard:

By definition, a smartphone includes a QWERTY keyboard. This means that the keys are laid out in the same manner they would be on your computer keyboard–not in alphabetical order on top of a numeric keypad, where you have to tap the number 1 to enter an A, B, or C. The keyboard can be hardware (physical keys that you type on) or software (on a touch screen, like you’ll find on the iPhone).

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Smartphone features:

Smartphones include several built-in applications, and countless free and paid apps are available from their respective online stores.

Primary Built-In Applications:

1. Cellular phone calls and contact list

2. Texting

3. Video calling (Apple FaceTime)

4. Web browser

5. E-mail app

6. Weather

7. Voice-activated personal assistant (see Siri, Google Voice Search and S Voice).

8. Alarm clock, stopwatch, timer

9. Calculator

10. Calendar

11. Note taker

12. Music player

13. Photo album

14. Camera (still and video)

15. GPS navigation

16. App store search

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Applications available for Download:

Following are some handy program categories out of the thousands of free and paid apps. Depending on model, some of the following may come with the phone.

1. Flashlight

2. Dictionaries, encyclopedias

3. News, weather and stock markets

4. Video calling (Skype, Tango, etc.)

5. Games and entertainment

6. E-book reader

7. Language translators

8. Retail store finders

9. Mobile tag readers

10. Converters (money, measurements)

11. Magnifying glass and mirror

12. Internet radio

13. Music identifier

14. YouTube viewer

15. Voice recorder

16. Emergency message sender

17. Compass

18. Social media sites (facebook, twitter etc)

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Superphone:

“Superphone” is used by some companies to market phones with unusually large screens and other expensive features in a smartphone.  Google coined the “superphone” nomenclature at the launch of the Nexus One. These devices are optimized from a silicon perspective, a hardware perspective and a software perspective. In general terms, a superphone has more deep access to hardware capabilities, and the hardware is a step above what you’d see in a smartphone. Screens are larger in excess of four inches. The superphone has an impressive camera, generally between five and eight megapixels, that lends itself to high-quality photo and video capturing. It has multiple microphones for noise cancellation, both for calls and video recording. Superphones have gigahertz processors. In addition to better hardware, superphones have better software. The operating system iterations including Android and iOS from Apple are adding “superfeatures” such as true multitasking and are allowing for signature experiences – a fine marriage of hardware and software. This union of hardware and software means that the better displays will allow for high-quality video and gaming experiences for not just social and casual gaming, but games that appeal to the hardcore gamer as well. And accelerometers, cameras and GPS systems built into superphones allow for amazing location-based service and augmented reality applications. In general, social applications on superphones are more integrated, and web browsing with open-source Webkit browsers is more advanced and much faster.

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Phablet:

“Phablet”, a portmanteau of the words phone and tablet, describes smartphones with larger screens. Phones with screens larger than 5.2 inches are called “phablets”. Screen size varies between 5-7 inches. Tablet is a gadget that has a touch screen interface, and usually measuring 7 to 11 inches. Phablet is a term commonly used to describe a gadget that combines the capabilities of smartphones and tablets. Phablet is usually larger than a smartphone, but smaller than a tablet.  Although larger than a smart phone, phablet tend to be smaller and thinner than the tablet, making it convenient to carry or bagged users. Phablet usually used for mobile web access and multimedia, including activities that require a large screen. In a series of Samsung Galaxy Note, phablet has special software that allows the stylus features sketches, and notes. Screen size varies between 5-7 inches. Phablet also has a feature that is owned by a smartphone such as voice calling, although the screen size of the tablet resembles. One of the traits – traits phablet, though not absolute, is a stylus pen, which can be used for sketching or writing something on phablet. In January 2013, IHS reported that 25.6 million phablet sold in 2012 and estimates that number will rise to 60.4 million units in 2013, and 146 million in 2016. In the analysis of 2013, Engadget saw a price drop screen, display increased energy efficiency, increased battery power and multimedia value change is a major factor in the popularity phablet.

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Tablets are essentially smartphones with larger screens and no built-in telephone capability (although Skype and other voice-over-Internet apps are available). Tablets may have only front-facing cameras for video calls, whereas smartphones have both front and rear cameras.

Find features which differentiate the Phablets from the Tablets:

Features Phablet Tablet
Size 5-7 inch 7 -11 inch
Optimized for mobile web and multimedia mobile web, multimedia, software, reading ebooks
Stylus Yes No
USB micro USB USB 2.0
Weight Upto 200 gms Upto 750 gms
HDMI No Yes
Battery Upto 3100 mAh upto 42 watt
 Customer base  People looking for phones with bigger screen size.  People who see Tablets as a replacement to laptops.
Popular branded models Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Grand, Dell Streak Ipad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Micromax Funbook

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What makes a Smartphone Smart?

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Growing technologies, a wide array of apps, and clever gadgets make smartphones something of a necessity in today’s world, so it is important that you learn what makes a smartphone smart. This list of distinguishing smartphone features will illuminate what separates a smartphone from the rest of the cellular world. One of the best things about smartphones is the wide array of applications that you can use to customize, personalize, and make your smartphone more efficient, which is why you need an application processor that will make these apps available and effective. With a quality application processor, such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon or the Nvidia Tegra, you can find several different games, utilities, word processors, and anything else you would want. A quality smartphone will allow you to check the local weather with a touch of a button, read different news articles as soon as they come out, and even receive updates to your social networks in real time. In addition to a quality applications processor, a good smartphone will also contain a baseband chip that allows you to connect to the fast and powerful 3G and 4G networks. Although many regular cell phones have a less developed baseband chip, a smartphone will also allow you to connect via Bluetooth, utilize GPS functions, and connect to wireless networks near you. Most smartphones can easily connect, which allows for greater data transfer and communications. The baseband chip is paramount if you want to download attachments from your email on the go, connect your apps to the Internet, and stream videos and music online. Although smartphones don’t have an operating system that is equivalent to that of a desktop or laptop, every smartphone has a fast and powerful operating system that allows you to do nearly everything that you can do on a laptop. A quality operating system will allow you to play games online without much of a delay, access the Internet in the same fashion as you would on a desktop, and even view and edit documents. For example, the Apple iPhones run on the iOS, Blackberry smartphones have the Blackberry OS, and many other devices run on Google’s Android OS. New updates and technologies continually improve these operating systems, where the more powerful the operating system, the more powerful and fast your app will run. Older cell phones and PDA devices didn’t have quality Internet access. Cell phones were mainly used for simple calling and text messaging, while smartphones will allow you to seamlessly browse the Web wherever you have Internet access. Additionally, because of the high resolution and crystal clear display quality, the Internet will look just as good as it would on a desktop or laptop, just smaller. You will be able to check your email, update your Facebook or Twitter, shop, or simply browse on virtually any smartphone. This feature is especially important, as you can access maps when you are lost or look up any bit of information that’s available on the Web. Many smartphones can take high definition pictures and videos that are comparable to that of most quality cameras. Not only will you be able to capture the most beloved moments in your life with ease, but you can also upload these photos online quickly and efficiently. Additionally, most smartphones contain large amounts of storage space, where you can store hundreds of pictures and hours of video. With the bright and colorful displays, you will be able to experience all your photos and videos in pristine quality. A good smartphone will contain at least a 5 MP camera with 720p video resolution, while high definition smartphones contain eight megapixels (MP) and 1080p video resolution. Another crucial aspect that makes a smartphone is its ability to become an mp3 player, video and movie player, and gaming device all in one. Unlike cell phones, a smartphone will have a 3.5-millimeter audio jack for headphones that allows you to listen to music while you are on the go, watch movies discreetly or in the comfort of your home, and play top quality games. Additionally, you can plug in speakers to your smartphone and play music for a whole group of people. With the good storage space that most smartphones offer, you can listen to entire playlists of music, while at the same time, if you have a call coming in, you will be instantly notified. With all the talk about smartphones these days, it is important to know what all the buzz is about. Although it is still rather difficult to know what exactly makes a smartphone smart, with this list, you can get a little insight into what makes smartphones so vastly popular. In fact, smartphones will replace most cell phones, which means that you need to know what you can expect out of your future smartphones. Whether you want a smartphone for your business or pleasure, the wide array of smartphone features will certainly make your life easier and more efficient. With the Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S, and Blackberry smartphones, you will be able to stay connected to the Internet and all your friends and family wherever you go. In the beginning of the mobile device world, there were only cell phones, which were mostly limited to calling, and personal digital assistant (PDA) devices, which helped organize your life with to-do lists and calendars. Once PDA devices were created to connect to Wi-Fi for email access and cell phones were given text messaging services, both devices started to blend and integrate. As technology continued to grow, such as with 2G and 3G networks, different Internet applications, and music capabilities, the end result was the smartphone. Smartphones continue to grow in their efficiency and capabilities, and in the future, you can expect to see some smartphones with truly incredible features.

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The figure below depicts flow chart of telephones from landline phone to phablet:

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History of smartphone:

Devices that combined telephony and computing were first conceptualized by Theodore G. Paraskevakos in 1971 and patented in 1973, and were offered for sale beginning in 1993. He was the first to introduce the concepts of intelligence, data processing and visual display screens into telephones which gave rise to the “Smartphone.” However it did not yet have general purpose PDA (personal digital assistant) applications in a wireless device typical of smartphones. The first mobile phone to incorporate PDA features was an IBM prototype developed in 1992 and demonstrated that year at the COMDEX computer industry trade show. A refined version of the product was marketed to consumers in 1994 by BellSouth under the name Simon Personal Communicator. The Simon was the first cellular device that can be properly referred to as a “smartphone”, although it wasn’t called a smartphone in 1994.

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The Simon Personal Communicator (shown above), built by IBM, is now considered to be the world’s first smartphone. The Simon Personal Communicator had its coming-out party on Nov. 2, 1993, at a telecommunications trade show at Disney World (DIS) in Orlando. It had a screen, calendar, and could send email, making it by some measures the world’s first smartphone. The phone was not exceptionally well received when it was released. The phone was rather large and heavy, weighing half a kilogram, and was priced at the extreme high end of the market, costing $899 at launch. The model, which was only sold in the US, was not commercially successful, a victim of its size, expense, and a lack of the digital infrastructure taken for granted today, such as Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular data. By early 1995, Simon was off the market. IBM decided not to pursue the business.

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The first cell phone, on the other hand, was demonstrated 19 years before the first smartphone. Motorola employee Dr. Martin Cooper on April 3, 1973 called researcher Dr. Joel S. Engel of AT&T’s Bell Labs using a prototype from Motorola called the DynaTAC.

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In the late 1990s, many mobile phone users carried a separate dedicated PDA device, running early versions of operating systems such as Palm OS, BlackBerry OS or Windows CE/Pocket PC. These operating systems would later evolve into mobile operating systems. In 1996, Nokia released the Nokia 9000 which combined a PDA based on the GEOS V3.0 operating system from Geoworks with a digital cellular phone based on the Nokia 2110. The two devices were fixed together via a hinge in what became known as a clamshell design. When opened, the display was on the inside top surface and with a physical QWERTY keyboard on the bottom. The personal organizer provided e-mail, calendar, address book, calculator and notebook with text-based web browsing, and the ability to send and receive faxes. When the personal organizer was closed, it could be used as a digital cellular phone. In June 1999, Qualcomm released a “CDMA Digital PCS Smartphone” with integrated Palm PDA and Internet connectivity, known as the “pdQ Smartphone”. In early 2000, the Ericsson R380 was released by Ericsson Mobile Communications, and was the first device marketed as a “smartphone”. It combined the functions of a mobile phone and a personal digital assistant (PDA), supported limited web browsing with a resistive touchscreen utilizing a stylus. In early 2001, Palm, Inc. introduced the Kyocera 6035, which combined a PDA with a mobile phone and operated on Verizon. It also supported limited web browsing. Smartphones before Android, iOS, and Blackberry, typically ran on Symbian, which was originally developed by Psion. It was the world’s most widely used smartphone operating system until Q4 2010.

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Symbian was the most popular smartphone OS in Europe during the mid- and late 2000s. Initially, Nokia’s Symbian devices were focused on business, similar to Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices at the time. From 2006 onwards, Nokia started producing entertainment-focused smartphones, popularized by the Nseries. In Asia, with the exception of Japan, the trend was similar to that of Europe. In 2007, Apple Inc. introduced the iPhone, one of the first mobile phones to use a multi-touch interface. The iPhone was notable for its use of a large touchscreen for direct finger input as its main means of interaction, instead of a stylus, keyboard, or keypad typical for smartphones at the time. 2008 saw the release of the first phone to use Android called the HTC Dream (also known as the T-Mobile G1). Android is an open-source platform founded by Andy Rubin and backed by Google. Although Android’s adoption was relatively slow at first, it started to gain widespread popularity in 2010, and now dominates the market. Both of these platforms led to the drop of the previous leading companies. Microsoft, for instance, started a new OS from scratch, in the form of Windows Phone, which is now the third largest OS. Nokia abandoned Symbian and partnered with Microsoft to use Windows Phone on its smartphones. Palm was bought by Hewlett-Packard, turned into webOS which became Open webOS and later sold to LG Electronics. BlackBerry also made a new system from scratch, BlackBerry 10. The capacitive touchscreen also had a knock-on effect on smartphone form factors. Before 2007 it was common for devices to have a numeric keypad or QWERTY keyboard in either a candybar or sliding form factor. However, by 2010, there were no top-tier smartphones with numeric keypads. As of 2014, BlackBerry Limited – with a 0.6% share of the market in Q4 2013 – is the sole remaining brand of high-end smartphones with physical keyboards.

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History and evolution of Touchscreen:

During the rapid rise of the computer in the second half of the twentieth century, people were always searching for the next best way to interact with them. The early days of punched cards and paper tape became too cumbersome as computers advanced and keyboards became the input device of choice. In the 1960’s, U.S. inventor Douglas Engelbart invented the computer mouse, which represented a milestone in computer interaction. The next big leap forward came in 1971 when Dr.Samuel C.Hurst invented the electronic touch screen interface. While teaching at the University of Kentucky, he was faced with the daunting task of reading a huge amount of data from a strip chart. Realizing that this work would normally take graduate students at least two months to complete, he decided to work on an easier method. What he came up with was the Elograph coordinate measuring system. It was an input tablet that could measure where the user was pressing a stylus. Hurst quickly formed the Elographics company (now Elo TouchSystems) to make and sell the device. Working furiously to develop their concept, Hurst and his team took just three years to make a proper transparent version that could sit over a screen. Four years later, in 1977, they came up with what was to become the most popular technology for touch screens today. The five-wire resistive touch screen contains transparent layers that are squeezed together by the pressure of a finger touching them. Easily translated into electrical resistive data, this modern touchscreen is durable and offers high resolution. The first touchscreen phone was launched in 1994 by IBM. The IBM Simon is also referred as the first smartphone as discussed above.

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Usage and statistics of smartphone:

Smartphones are taking over the cellphone market. Everyone has a smartphone, or so it seems. People are constantly talking on them, taking pictures, surfing the Internet and doing dozens of other things, including shopping for cars. The mobile phone market which was 4.08 billion users globally in 2012 grew in 2013 to 4.33 billion users. The mobile market grew to 4.55 billion users in 2014 and expected to grow to 4.77 billion users in 2015. The total mobile phone users are likely to reach 5.13 billion users globally by 2017. Among the mobile phone users, the percentage of Smartphone users is expected to increase drastically. There were around 1.13 billion Smartphone users in 2012. The number of Smartphone users increased in 2013 to 1.43 billion users. The number of Smartphone users is further increased to 1.75 billion users in 2014. Around 49% i.e. nearly half of the mobile phone users globally are likely to use Smartphone by 2017.

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As of January 2014:

•90% of American adults have a cell phone

•58% of American adults have a smartphone

•32% of American adults own an e-reader

•42% of American adults own a tablet computer

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Shocking facts about cell phone usage:

1. Driver reaction time is 33 percent slower when using a cell phone than when under the influence of alcohol.

2. 20 percent of U.S. teens take part in “sexting,” which is considered a felony as child pornography.

3. In America 200,000,000,000,000 (two hundred trillion) text messages are sent every single day; that is more than regular mail sent over an entire year. Of that number, the average American teenager sends 110 text messages each day.

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Smartphone usage:

In the third quarter of 2012, one billion smartphones were in use worldwide. Global smartphone sales surpassed the sales figures for features phones in early 2013. As of 2013, 65 percent U.S. mobile consumers own smartphones. The European mobile device market as of 2013 is 860 million.  In China, smartphones represented more than half of all handset shipments in the second quarter of 2012 and in 2014 there were 519.7 million smartphone users, with the number estimated to grow to 700 million by 2018. India is now the fast-growing mobile market to watch. A separate report from Emarketer states that India is poised to pass the US to become the world’s second largest smartphone market by 2016. By that time, India will have a little over 200 million active smartphone users. As of November 2011, 27% of all photographs were taken with camera-equipped smartphones.  A study conducted in September 2012 concluded that 4 out of 5 smartphone owners use the device to shop. Worldwide shipments of smartphones topped 1 billion units in 2013 (up 38% from 2012′s 725 million) while comprising a 55% share of the mobile phone market in 2013 (up from 42% in 2012).  As of the end of Q3 2014, Android was the most popular operating system, with a 84.4% market share, followed by iOS with 11.7%, Windows Phone with 2.9%, BlackBerry with 0.5% and Others with 0.6%.

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80% of all Online Adults now own a Smartphone: January 2015 report:

As in January 2015, among online adults, nearly 80 percent of people worldwide now own a smartphone while almost 50 percent have a tablet, a report from market research firm GlobalWebIndex says. The proportion of smartphone ownership has reached a new high, but it has not yet overtaken legacy ownership and usage of PCs, which is currently at 91% of all online adults. On an average, internet users now say they spend 1.85 hours online via a mobile each day, up from 1.24 hours in 2012.

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The figure below shows market share by product category of smart connected devices:

The market share of smartphone is increasing and desktop/laptop is decreasing.

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By 2020, more than six billion smartphones will be in use. Due to the affordability of smartphones and the rise of emerging markets, living standards are improving and new opportunities are being created because of these mobile devices.

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As seen in the figure below, U.S., Europe, Russia and Australia have highest mobile broadband internet penetration in the world:

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The figure below depicts a survey of 800 Irish people between the ages of 15 and 35 on their media and smartphone habits and the result is a very handy report for marketers and media brands:

A research discovered that young people from the ages of 18 to 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages per day that totals to more than 3,200 texts per month.

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How often do you reach/check your smartphone every day?

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Technology of mobile phones:

Radio waves:

Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. Radio waves have frequencies from 300 GHz to as low as 3 kHz, and corresponding wavelengths ranging from 1 millimeter to 100 kilometers. Like all other electromagnetic waves, they travel at the speed of light. Naturally occurring radio waves are made by lightning, or by astronomical objects. Artificially generated radio waves are used for fixed and mobile radio communication, broadcasting, radar and other navigation systems, communications satellites, computer networks and innumerable other applications. Different frequencies of radio waves have different propagation characteristics in the Earth’s atmosphere; long waves may cover a part of the Earth very consistently, shorter waves can reflect off the ionosphere and travel around the world, and much shorter wavelengths bend or reflect very little and travel on a line of sight. To prevent interference between different users, the artificial generation and use of radio waves is strictly regulated by law, coordinated by an international body called the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The radio spectrum is divided into a number of radio bands on the basis of frequency, allocated to different uses.  ”Radio waves” transmit music, conversations, pictures and data invisibly through the air, often over thousands of miles — it happens every day in thousands of different ways! Even though radio waves are invisible and completely undetectable to humans, they have totally changed society. Whether we are talking about a cell phone, a baby monitor, a cordless phone or any one of the thousands of other wireless technologies, all of them use radio waves to communicate.

Here are just a few of the everyday technologies that depend on radio waves:

•AM and FM radio broadcasts

•Cordless phones

•Garage door openers

•Wireless networks

•Radio-controlled toys

•Television broadcasts

•Cell phones

•GPS receivers

•Ham radios

•Satellite communications

•Police radios

•Wireless clocks

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A cell phone is also a radio and is a much more sophisticated device. A cell phone contains both a transmitter and a receiver, can use both of them simultaneously, can understand hundreds of different frequencies, and can automatically switch between frequencies. In its most common form, radio is used for the transmission of sounds (voice and music) and pictures (television). The sounds and images are converted into electrical signals by a microphone (sounds) or video camera (images), amplified, and used to modulate a carrier wave that has been generated by an oscillator circuit in a transmitter. The modulated carrier is also amplified, then applied to an antenna that converts the electrical signals to electromagnetic waves for radiation into space. Such waves radiate at the speed of light and are transmitted not only by line of sight but also by deflection from the ionosphere. Receiving antennas intercept part of this radiation, change it back to the form of electrical signals, and feed it to a receiver.

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CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobiles) are shorthand for the two major radio systems used in cell phones:

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GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) are two dominant technologies for mobile communication. These two technologies differ in the way calls and data travel over the mobile phone networks take place. On comparing both the technologies GSM has some limitation when the call quality is concerned but still has more flexibility and an easy implementation relative to the CDMA technology. CDMA doesn’t use SIM cards (not to be confused with 4G SIM cards) and GSM uses SIM cards. CDMA stores your information on the phone, while GSM stores it on the SIM card. Therefore, if a GSM phone is unlocked, you can easily use it in any GSM carrier without having to go through the illegal hassle of unlocking. Furthermore, GSM is used in most countries. As a result, buying an unlocked GSM phones gives you more flexibility. Granted, newer CDMA phones do offer support for GSM, but the data may not work properly because of incompatible frequency signals. For example, you may not have access to 4G LTE. Again, those newer CDMA phones with GSM support will only work on the GSM carriers of other countries if they are unlocked. The major difference between the two lies in terms of the technology they use, security factors, their global reach and the data transfer speeds.

1. Technology:

The CDMA is based on spread spectrum technology which makes the optimal use of available bandwidth. It allows each user to transmit over the entire frequency spectrum all the time. On the other hand GSM operates on the wedge spectrum called a carrier. This carrier is divided into a number of time slots and each user is assigned a different time slot so that until the ongoing call is finished, no other subscriber can have access to this. GSM uses both Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) and Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA) for user and cell separation. TDMA provides multiuser access by chopping up the channel into different time slices and FDMA provides multiuser access by separating the used frequencies.

2. Security:

More security is provided in CDMA technology as compared with the GSM technology as encryption is inbuilt in the CDMA. A unique code is provided to every user and all the conversation between two users are encoded ensuring a greater level of security for CDMA users. The signal cannot be detected easily in CDMA as compared to the signals of GSM, which are concentrated in the narrow bandwidth. Therefore, the CDMA phone calls are more secure than the GSM calls. In terms of encryption the GSM technology has to be upgraded so as to make it operate more securely.

3. Spectrum Frequencies:

The CDMA network operates in the frequency spectrum of CDMA 850 MHz and 1900 MHz while the GSM network operates in the frequency spectrum of GSM 850 MHz and 1900 MHz.

4. Global Reach:

GSM is in use over 80% of the world’s mobile networks in over 210 countries as compared to CDMA. CDMA is almost exclusively used in United States and some parts of Canada and Japan. As the European Union permissions GSM use, so CDMA is not supported in Europe. In North America, especially in rural areas, more coverage is offered by CDMA as compared to GSM. As GSM is an international standard, so it’s better to use GSM in international roaming. GSM is in use by 76% of users as compared to CDMA which is in use by 24% users.

5. Data Transfer Rate:

CDMA has faster data rate as compared to GSM as EVDO data transfer technology is used in CDMA which offers a maximum download speed of 2 Mbps.  EVDO ready mobile phones are required to use this technology. GSM uses EDGE data transfer technology that has a maximum download speed of 384 kbps which is slower as compared to CDMA. For browsing the web, to watch videos and to download music, CDMA is better choice as compared to GSM. So CDMA is known to cover more area with fewer towers.

6. Radiation Exposure:

GSM phones emit continuous wave pulses, so there is a large need to reduce the exposures to electromagnetic fields focused on cell phones with “continuous wave pulses”. On the other hand CDMA cell phones do not produce these pulses. GSM phones emit about 28 times more radiation on average as compared to CDMA phones. Moreover, GSM phones are more biologically reactive as compared to CDMA.

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Mobile Network Generations (wireless telephone technology generation):

G in 2G, 3G and 4G stands for the “Generation” of the mobile network. Today, mobile operators have started offering 4G services in the world. A higher number before the ‘G’ means more power to send out and receive more information and therefore the ability to achieve a higher efficiency through the wireless network. At their core, smartphones, and all cell phones for that matter, are mini radios, sending and receiving radio signals. Cell phone networks are divided into specific areas called Cells. Each cell has an antenna that receives cell phone signals. The antenna transmits signals just like a radio station, and your phone picks up those signals just as a radio does. Smartphones use cell phone network technology to send and receive data (phone calls, Web browsing, file transfers). Developers classify this technology into generations. First generation is analog cell phone technology. However, as cell phone technology progressed, the protocols became more advanced. In 2015, cell phones are in the world of the fourth generation, or 4G. Although most carriers are expanding their 4G technology, some companies, such as Samsung, are developing 5G technology, which if recent tests are any indication, will allow you to download an entire movie in less than a second.

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Mobile broadband is the marketing term for wireless Internet access through a portable modem, mobile phone, USB wireless modem, tablet or other mobile devices. The first wireless Internet access became available in 1991 as part of the second generation (2G) of mobile phone technology. Higher speeds became available in 2001 and 2006 as part of the third (3G) and fourth (4G) generations. In 2011, 90% of the world’s population lived in areas with 2G coverage, while 45% lived in areas with 2G and 3G coverage. Mobile broadband uses the spectrum of 225 MHz to 3700 MHz.

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0 G:

0 G refers to pre-cellphone mobile telephony technology, such as radio telephones that some had in cars before the advent of cellphones.

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0 G phone:

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1G:

1G (or 1-G) is short for first-generation wireless telephone technology, cellphones. These are the analog cellphone standards that were introduced in the 80′s and continued until being replaced by 2G digital cellphones. The main difference between the two mobile telephone systems (1G and 2G), is that the radio signals used by 1G networks are analog, while 2G networks are digital. 1G was the first generation of mobile networks. Here basically, radio signals were transmitted in ‘Analogue’ form and expectedly, one was not able to do much other than sending text messaging and making calls. But the biggest disadvantage, however came in the form of limited network availability, as in the network was available only within the country. Although both systems use digital signaling to connect the radio towers (which listen to the handsets) to the rest of the telephone system, the voice itself during a call is encoded to digital signals in 2G whereas 1G is only modulated to higher frequency, typically 150 MHz and up. The inherent advantages of digital technology over that of analog meant that 2G networks eventually replaced them almost everywhere.

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1 G phone:

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2 G:

2 G (or 2-G) is short for second-generation wireless telephone technology. Second generation 2G cellular telecom networks were commercially launched on the GSM standard in Finland by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa Oyj) in 1991.The 2G phone systems use the Digital Technology for communication. This means the transmission and reception of the signal is digital (bits), voice communications are digitally encrypted. It means greater privacy, efficient data transfer without noise and also less expensive devices. All text messages sent over 2G are digitally encrypted, allowing for the transfer of data in such a way that only the intended receiver can receive and read it. The other advantage of the 2G network came in the form of Semi Global Roaming System, which enabled the connectivity all over the world. It cannot normally transfer data, such as email or software, other than the digital voice call itself, and other basic ancillary data such as time and date.Similar to its predecessor 1G the devices work in Full Duplex mode. Due to the Digital technology 2G allowed Data Services (GPRS) and also introduced Short Messaging Service (SMS), Prepaid Service. Many other features like EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) or EGPRS (Enhanced GPRS), WAP – Wireless Application Protocol, MMS – Multimedia Messaging Service were introduced with the two revisions 2.5G & 2.75G. This generation shares a major part in the global market till today. It means many cell phone users still use this technology.

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2 G phone:

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2.5 G:

2.5G is a stepping stone between 2G and 3G cellular wireless technologies. Between 2G and 3G there was a short phase in between where mobile phones became sleeker and more ‘pocketable’ if we can call it that.  This is popularly referred to as 2.5 G where the quantity of radio waves to be transmitted was much lower. This in turn had an effect on the shape and structure of mobile phones. But most of all, 2.5 G helped in the ushering of GPRS (General Pocket Radio Service).  The term “second and a half generation” is used to describe 2G-systems that have implemented a packet switched domain in addition to the circuit switched domain. It does not necessarily provide faster services because bundling of timeslots is used for circuit switched data services (HSCSD) as well. While the terms “2 G” and “3 G” are officially defined, “2.5 G” is not. It was invented for marketing purposes only. 2.5 G provides some of the benefits of 3 G (e.g. it is packet-switched) and can use some of the existing 2G infrastructure in GSM and CDMA networks. The commonly known 2.5 G technique is GPRS. Some protocols, such as EDGE for GSM and CDMA2000 1x-RTT for CDMA, officially qualify as “3G” services (because they have a data rate of above 144kbps), but are considered by most to be 2.5 G services (or 2.75 G which sounds even more sophisticated) because they are several times slower than “true” 3G services.

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Overview of 3 G communication:

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3 G is the third generation of mobile phone systems. The 3rd generation of mobile networks has become popular largely thanks to the ability of users to access the Internet over devices like mobiles and tablets. The speed of data transmission on a 3G network ranges between 384 kbps to 2 Mbps. This means a 3G network actually allows for more data transmission and therefore the network enables voice and video calling, file transmission, internet surfing, online TV, view high definition videos, play games and much more.  3G is the best option for users who need to always stay connected to Internet. They provide both a packet-switched and a circuit-switched domain from the beginning. It requires a new access network, different from that already available in 2G systems. Due to cost and complexity, rollout of 3G has been somewhat slower than anticipated.

3G Standards:

3G technologies are an answer to the International Telecommunications Union’s IMT-2000 specification. Originally, 3G was supposed to be a single, unified, worldwide standard, but in practice, the 3G world has been split into three camps.

1. UMTS (W-CDMA)

UMTS (Universal Mobile Telephone System), based on W-CDMA technology, is the solution generally preferred by countries that used GSM, centered in Europe. UMTS is managed by the 3GPP organization also responsible for GSM, GPRS and EDGE.

2. CDMA2000

The other significant 3G standard is CDMA2000, which is an outgrowth of the earlier 2G CDMA standard IS-95. CDMA2000′s primary proponents are outside the GSM zone in the Americas, Japan and Korea. CDMA2000 is managed by 3GPP2, which is separate and independent from UMTS’s 3GPP.

3. TD-SCDMA

A less well known standard is TD-SCDMA which is being developed in the People’s Republic of China by the companies Datang and Siemens. They are predicting an operational system for 2005.

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Definition of 3G by data speed:

A 3G network is a mobile broadband network, offering data speeds of at least 144 kilobits per second (Kbps). For comparison, a dial-up Internet connection on a computer typically offers speeds of about 56 Kbps. If you’ve ever sat and waited for a Web page to download over a dial-up connection, you know how slow that is. 3G networks can offers speeds of 3.1 megabits per second (Mbps) or more; that’s on par with speeds offered by cable modems. In day-to-day use, however, the actual speed of the 3G network will vary. Factors such as signal strength, your location, and network traffic all come into play.

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3 G Features include:

› Multimedia streaming & download: We can watch YouTube videos, download latest movies and watch them right in your mobile.

› High speed mobile broadband: Surfing internet at fast rate. If I had to download a 5mb file then with 2G network it may take around 5mins but with 3G network it just takes around 20 to 30seconds, that fast is this network. But this depends on the number of users accessing that network at a time.

› Download of large email attachments: We can download large files in seconds.

› Live Mobile TV: Live News, TV serials/Shows can be seen directly in our 3G phone with the help of Live streaming videos. This feature helps us while we are traveling and don’t want to miss our favorite show.

› Secure Mobile eCommerce: Making transactions on mobile like buying and selling stuffs, Mobile Banking.

› Mobile Gaming: Game freak guys can play multi player games on this network.

› Location-Based Services: We can utilize this feature for Navigation, Tracking, Maps.

› Video calling: You can have a live video conferencing with your loved ones, official purpose. To support this feature the network should have high bandwidth and 3G network has it.

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Pros & Cons of 3G:

The advantages include the features mentioned above and in addition to that the 3G enabled devices can also be used as the Data Cards for Laptops to access the Internet with a broadband experience.

The drawbacks are –

1. To support the 3G technology the Network operator should upgrade the whole base station since the bandwidth required for 3G is more. So it fetches lot of investment from the operator side

2. Cell Phone users have to pay more to buy a 3G enabled phone.

3. Power consumption increases.

4. Voice quality remains same as 2G.

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The figure below shows transition from 1G technology to 3G technology:

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3.5 G:

High-Speed Downlink Packet Access or HSDPA is a mobile telephony protocol. It is also called 3.5G (or 3½ G). High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) is a packet-based data service in W-CDMA downlink with data transmission up to 8-10 Mbps (and 20 Mbps for MIMO systems) over a 5MHz bandwidth in WCDMA downlink. HSDPA implementations includes Adaptive Modulation and Coding (AMC), Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), Hybrid Automatic Request (HARQ), fast cell search, and advanced receiver design.

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4 G:

4 G (or 4-G) is short for fourth-generation the successor of 3G and is a wireless access technology. 4th Generation mobile networks are believed to provide many value added features. In addition to all the 3G facilities, data transmission is believed to go through the roof with speeds ranging between 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps… Happy talking, surfing, conferencing, chatting, networking, partying, or whatever you want to do on your mobile phone. It describes two different but overlapping ideas.

1. High-speed mobile wireless access with a very high data transmission speed, of the same order of magnitude as a local area network connection (10 Mbps and up). It has been used to describe wireless LAN technologies like Wi-Fi, as well as other potential successors of the current 3G mobile telephone standards.

2. Pervasive networks. An amorphous and presently entirely hypothetical concept where the user can be simultaneously connected to several wireless access technologies and can seamlessly move between them. These access technologies can be Wi-Fi, UMTS, EDGE or any other future access technology. Included in this concept is also smart-radio technology to efficiently manage spectrum use and transmission power as well as the use of mesh routing protocols to create a pervasive network.

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‘LTE’ stands for Long Term Evolution and is a type of 4G technology.  4G LTE aims to offer users faster, more reliable mobile broadband internet for devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops. Loosely speaking, 4G is around five times faster than existing 3G services. Theoretically it can provide download speeds of up to 100 Mbps but you won’t achieve this in real-world use. Unless you’ve just bought an iPhone 5, a Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE (not a regular S3) or one of the other brand new 4G-capable smartphones, your existing handset won’t work on a 4G network. 4G networks use different frequencies to transmit data than 3G so you need a handset which has a modem that supports these new frequencies.

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5 G:

5 G (5th generation mobile networks or 5th generation wireless systems) also known as Tactile Internet denotes the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards. 5G does not describe any particular specification in any official document published by any telecommunication standardization body. 5G wireless networks will support 1,000-fold gains in capacity, connections for at least 100 billion devices, and a 10 Gbps individual user experience capable of extremely low latency and response times. Deployment of these networks will emerge between 2020 and 2030. 5G radio access will be built upon both new radio access technologies (RAT) and evolved existing wireless technologies (LTE, HSPA, GSM and Wi-Fi). Breakthroughs in wireless network innovation will also drive economic and societal growth in entirely new ways. 5G will realize networks capable of providing zero-distance connectivity between people and connected machines. In Seoul, South Korea, home of the fastest Internet speeds in the world, you can download an 800 MB movie in just 40 seconds on their advanced 4G networks. In comparison, if T-Mobile adopted 5G technology in the US, for example, that time would decrease to a jaw-dropping one second for an entire movie download. In addition, 5G networks would allow users to access the Internet even while traveling at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour, almost double current capabilities.

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Samsung has already delivered impressive data speeds of 1GB per second using the technology and it has been suggested mobile users connected to a 5G network could download an entire film in just one second. If researchers at Cornell University are right, 5G will offer consumers a “seamless user experience”. The impressive speeds of the technology will put an end to impatient waits and laggy apps. We have all suffered the frustration of an out of sync video call or an online video buffer, but experts predict that these niggles will be a thing of the past when 5G launches.  Given the natural life cycle of network development, we would have expected to see 5G arrive around 2021. However, the mobile-loving South Korea government has invested $1.5bn in upgrades that should see a trial 5G network rolled out in 2017. The rest of South Korea should be connected to 5G by 2020. Karl Bode, a tech writer, suggests that 5G will not hit the United States until 2018 at the earliest, or perhaps not until the 2020 Olympic Games. It is not likely to be a mainstream service until 2025.

How will 5G work?

Multiple input multiple output (MiMo) technology is set to be a key part of these efficiency measures, according to researchers. MiMo uses several small antennae to service individual data streams. Samsung’s impressive download speeds were delivered using the technology.

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You may be wondering what these Mobile Generations are and who creates them?

The answer is International Telecommunication Union (ITU). It is a body formed by the United Nations which takes care of maintaining the Telecommunication Standards worldwide. Data is transmitted via radio waves. Radio waves are split up into bands – or ranges – of different frequencies.  Each band is reserved for a different type of communication – such as aeronautical and maritime navigation signals, television broadcasts and mobile data. The use of these frequency bands is regulated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Currently, the radio frequency spectrum is a bit of a mess. As new technologies have been developed, frequencies for them to use have been squeezed into its gaps. This has caused problems with connection speeds and reliability. 5G will be a dramatic overhaul and harmonization of the radio spectrum. That means the opportunity for properly connected smart cities, remote surgery, driverless cars and the “internet of things”. So, how best to understand this joined-up, superfast, all-encompassing 5G network? It seems that the term “harmonization of the radio spectrum” is the key.

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The comparison between 1G vs. 2G vs. 3G vs. 4G vs. 5G helps analyze capabilities of each of the technologies and features that can be supported by each of them.

Generation (1G,2G,3G,4G,5G) Definition Throughput/Speed Technology Time period Features
1G Analog 14.4 Kbps (peak) AMPS,NMT,TACS 1970 – 1980 During 1G Wireless phones are used for voice only.
2G Digital Narrow band circuit data 9.6/14.4 Kbps TDMA,CDMA 1990 to 2000 2G capabilities are achieved by allowing multiple users on a single channel via multiplexing. During 2G Cellular phones are used for data also along with voice.
2.5G Packet Data 171.2 Kbps(peak)
20-40 Kbps
GPRS 2001-2004 In 2.5G the internet becomes popular and data becomes more relevant.2.5G Multimedia services and streaming starts to show growth. Phones start supporting web browsing though limited and very few phones have that.
3G Digital Broadband Packet Data 3.1 Mbps (peak)
500-700 Kbps
CDMA 2000
(1xRTT, EVDO)
UMTS, EDGE
2004-2005 3G has Multimedia services support along with streaming are more popular. In 3G, Universal access and portability across different device types are made possible. (Telephones, PDA’s, etc.)
3.5G Packet Data 14.4 Mbps (peak)
1-3 Mbps
HSPA 2006 – 2010 3.5G supports higher throughput and speeds to support higher data needs of the consumers.
4G Digital Broadband Packet
All IP
Very high throughput
100-300 Mbps (peak)
3-5 Mbps
100 Mbps (Wi-Fi)
WiMax
LTE
Wi-Fi
Now (Read more on Transitioning to 4G) Speeds for 4G are further increased to keep up with data access demand used by various services. High definition streaming is now supported in 4G. New phones with HD capabilities surface. It gets pretty cool. In 4G, Portability is increased further. World-wide roaming is not a distant dream.
5G Not Yet Probably gigabits Not Yet Soon (probably 2020)Update: Samsung conducts tests on 5G Currently there is no 5G technology deployed. When this becomes available it will provide very high speeds to the consumers. It would also provide efficient use of available bandwidth as has been seen through development of each new technology.

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Computer basic:

Smartphone is a cell phone having computer functionality. So it has a hardware, operating system and applications.

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CPU:

A central processing unit (CPU) is the electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetic, logical, control and input/output (I/O) operations specified by the instructions. Traditionally, the term “CPU” refers to a processor and its control unit (CU), distinguishing these core elements of a computer from external components such as main memory and peripherals. Most modern CPUs are microprocessors, meaning they are contained on a single integrated circuit (IC) chip. Some computers have multi-core processors with two or more CPUs (which are then called “cores”) within a single chip. A phone’s processor is the brain of the device, and a fast one will enable you to open apps quickly, play games smoothly and even edit video. Today’s state-of-the-art chip for Android and Windows Phones is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800. (The 805 is coming soon.) This CPU offers swift multitasking and high-powered graphics in devices such as the Galaxy Note 3 and Lumia 1520.

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Smartphone Hardware bedsides CPU:

Along with processors, smartphones also have computer chips that provide functionality. Phones with cameras have high-resolution image sensors, just like digital cameras. Other chips support complex functions such as browsing the Internet, sharing multimedia files or playing music without placing too great a demand on the phone’s battery. Some manufacturers develop chips that integrate multiple functions to help reduce the overall cost (fewer chips produced per phone help offset production costs).

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RAM:

Random-access memory (RAM) is a form of computer data storage. A random-access memory device allows data items to be read and written in roughly the same amount of time regardless of the order in which data items are accessed. In contrast, with other direct-access data storage media such as hard disks, CD-RWs, DVD-RWs and the older drum memory, the time required to read and write data items varies significantly depending on their physical locations on the recording medium, due to mechanical limitations such as media rotation speeds and arm movement delays. It is faster memory compared to your permanent storage which includes your SD card internal and external. When your processor computes data it is faster to retrieve data required for processing from your RAM rather than to load it from your permanent storage which takes time. Also it is less taxing on the battery of your phone when your CPU retrieves data from RAM rather than from Storage. In addition to serving as temporary storage and working space for the operating system and applications, RAM is used in numerous other ways. The amount of system memory plays a significant role in how well a smartphone performs. Today’s flagship devices offer 2GB to 3GB of RAM, while lower-end to midrange phones get away with 1 GB to 1.5 GB.  If you want to load applications from memory faster and switch between them faster, more RAM is better.

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ROM:

Read-only memory (ROM) is a class of storage medium used in computers and other electronic devices. Pronounced rahm, acronym for read-only memory, computer memory on which data has been prerecorded. Once data has been written onto a ROM chip, it cannot be removed and can only be read. Unlike main memory (RAM), ROM retains its contents even when the computer is turned off. ROM is referred to as being nonvolatile, whereas RAM is volatile. Since the ROM is the main program on smartphone, it doesn’t want to be changed. Unlike RAM, ROM retains its data even without power, so it serves as a smartphone’s long-term storage. It has a limited ability for accepting new data, however. The earliest ROM chips, first produced in 1965, received their programming at the factory, and it was permanent. Newer generations of ROM readily receive new programming, though mainly a cellphone doesn’t write to it. Through rooting your device you can install custom ROM. Custom ROMs can offer new features over the standard ones, allowing you to tailor your device to your needs. They also allow developers to port other manufacturers’ interfaces to other device makes.

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Operating system:

An operating system (OS) is software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs. The operating system is an essential component of the system software in a computer system. Application programs usually require an operating system to function. Time-sharing operating systems schedule tasks for efficient use of the system and may also include accounting software for cost allocation of processor time, mass storage, printing, and other resources. For hardware functions such as input and output and memory allocation, the operating system acts as an intermediary between programs and the computer hardware, although the application code is usually executed directly by the hardware and will frequently make a system call to an OS function or be interrupted by it. Operating systems can be found on almost any device that contains a computer—from cellular phones and video game consoles to supercomputers and web servers.

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Smartphone Operating Systems: Mobile operating system:

The most important software in any smartphone is its operating system (OS). An operating system manages the hardware and software resources of smartphones. A mobile operating system, also referred to as mobile OS, is an operating system that operates a smartphone, tablet, PDA, or other mobile device. Modern mobile operating systems combine the features of a personal computer operating system with other features, including a touchscreen, cellular, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS mobile navigation, camera, video camera, speech recognition, voice recorder, music player, near field communication and infrared blaster. Mobile devices with mobile communications capabilities (e.g. smartphones) contain two mobile operating systems – the main user-facing software platform is supplemented by a second low-level proprietary real-time operating system which operates the radio and other hardware. Designed primarily for touch-screen mobile devices, Android, or Droid, technology is the operating system that most mobile telephones used as of Comscore’s February 2014 numbers. Developed by Google, most people consider the Droid technology revolutionary because its open source technology allows people to write program codes and applications for the operating system, which means Android is evolving constantly. Smartphone users can decide whether to download the applications. Moreover, Android operating systems can run multiple applications, allowing users to be multitasking mavens. And get this: Any hardware manufacturer is free to produce its own Android phone by using the operating system. In fact, many smartphone companies do just that. Android app’s store has hundreds of thousands of apps. Apple is always innovating, and iOS (iPhone operating system) allows iPhone screens to be used simply and logically. Touted by Apple as the “world’s most advance mobile operating system,” iOS supports more access from sports scores to restaurant recommendations. Reviewers say that Windows Phone 8 (WP8) is as simple to use as iOS and as easy to customize as Android. Its crowning achievement is LiveTiles, which are programmed squares that users can rearrange on their screen to easily access the information they want. WP8 works well with other Microsoft products, including Office and Exchange. For those who do a lot of calling, connecting to Facebook and texting, WP8 may meet their needs.

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2013 Worldwide Device Shipments by Operating System   
Operating System Millions of Units
Android 878
Windows 328
iOS/Mac OS 267
BlackBerry 24
Others 803
Total 2,300

So Google’s Android dominates mobile operating system of smartphones.

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Android:

Android is an open-source platform founded in October 2003 by Andy Rubin and backed by Google, along with major hardware and software developers (such as Intel, HTC, ARM, Motorola and Samsung) that form the Open Handset Alliance. In October 2008, HTC released the HTC Dream, the first phone to use Android. The software suite included on the phone consists of integration with Google’s proprietary applications, such as Maps, Calendar, and Gmail, and a full HTML web browser. Android supports the execution of native applications and third-party apps which are available via Google Play, which launched in October 2008 as Android Market. By Q4 2010, Android became the best-selling smartphone platform. Android is an open source, free, Linux-based operating system for smartphones and tablets. Android is a open source software, which means that it is free of cost and can be used, modified and re-sold. This is one of the reasons for its massive popularity, it allowed users to create and change any and all of Androids codes and settings trying to create the perfect OS. Android also has a large community of developers that constantly write applications and codes for the system. Another popular feature of Android is the number of apps and the Google Play. Google Play, formerly known as the Android Market is an application distribution platform, where developers publish applications for the many Android users. The applications are also developed by an open community and many of them are free for downloading through Google Play. Android is also popular because of constant and frequents updates that are available by Google. Google releases major updates every six to nine months, with minor updates much faster. The most recent major Android update was Lollipop 5.0, which was released on June 2014.

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Android’s user interface:

Notifications are accessed by sliding from the top of the display; individual notifications can be dismissed by sliding them away, and may contain additional functions (such as on the “missed call” notification seen here). Android’s default user interface is based on direct manipulation, using touch inputs, that loosely correspond to real-world actions, like swiping, tapping, pinching, and reverse pinching to manipulate on-screen objects, and a virtual keyboard. The response to user input is designed to be immediate and provides a fluid touch interface, often using the vibration capabilities of the device to provide haptic feedback to the user

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Android applications:
Android has a growing selection of third-party applications, which can be acquired by users by downloading and installing the application’s APK file, or by downloading them using an application store program that allows users to install, update, and remove applications from their devices. Google Play Store is the primary application store installed on Android devices that comply with Google’s compatibility requirements and license the Google Mobile Services software. Google Play Store allows users to browse, download and update applications published by Google and third-party developers; As of July 2013, there are more than one million applications available for Android in Play Store and 50 billion applications were installed from it on smartphones worldwide. Some carriers offer direct carrier billing for Google Play application purchases, where the cost of the application is added to the user’s monthly bill.  Due to the open nature of Android, a number of third-party application marketplace also exist for Android, either to provide a substitute for devices that are not allowed to ship with Google Play Store, provide applications that cannot be offered on Google Play Store due to policy violations, or for other reasons. Examples of these third-party stores have included the Amazon Appstore, GetJar, and SlideMe. F-Droid, another alternative marketplace, seeks to only provide applications that are distributed under free and open source licenses.

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iOS:

In 2007, Apple Inc. introduced the iPhone, one of the first mobile phones to use a multi-touch interface. The iPhone was notable for its use of a large touchscreen for direct finger input as its main means of interaction, instead of a stylus, keyboard, or keypad as typical for smartphones at the time. In July 2008, Apple introduced its second generation iPhone with a much lower list price and 3G support. Simultaneously, they introduced the App Store, which allowed any iPhone to install third-party native applications. Featuring over 500 applications at launch, the App Store eventually achieved 1 billion downloads in the first year, and 15 billion by 2011.

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Windows Phone:

In February 2010, Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 with a User Interface inspired by Microsoft’s “Metro Design Language”, to replace Windows Mobile. Windows Phone 7 integrates with Microsoft services such as Microsoft SkyDrive, Office, Xbox and Bing, as well as non-Microsoft services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts. This software platform runs the Microsoft Mobile smartphones, and has received some positive reception from the technology press and been praised for its uniqueness and differentiation.

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Firefox OS:

Firefox OS (originally called the boot to gecko project) was demonstrated by Mozilla in February 2012. It was designed to have a complete community based alternative system for mobile devices, using open standards and HTML5 applications. The first commercially available Firefox OS phones were ZTE Open and Alcatel One Touch Fire. As of 2014 more companies have partnered with Mozilla including Panasonic (which is making a smart TV with Firefox OS) and Sony.

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Tizen:

Tizen is a Linux-based operating system for devices, including smartphones, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) devices, smart TVs, laptops and smart cameras. Tizen is a project within the Linux Foundation and is governed by a Technical Steering Group (TSG) composed of Samsung and Intel among others. In April 2014, Samsung released the Samsung Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo, running Tizen.

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BlackBerry:

In 1999, RIM released its first BlackBerry devices, providing secure real-time push-email communications on wireless devices. Services such as BlackBerry Messenger provide the integration of all communications into a single inbox. There are 80 million active BlackBerry service subscribers and the 200 millionth BlackBerry smartphone was shipped in September 2012. Most recently, RIM has undergone a platform transition, changing its name to BlackBerry and making new devices on a new platform named “BlackBerry 10.”

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Symbian:

Symbian was originally developed by Psion as EPOC32. It was the world’s most widely used smartphone operating system until Q4 2010, though the platform never gained popularity or widespread awareness in the U.S., as it did in Europe and Asia. The first Symbian phone, the touchscreen Ericsson R380 Smartphone, was released in 2000, and was the first device marketed as a “smartphone”. It combined a PDA with a mobile phone. In February 2011, Nokia announced that it would replace Symbian with Windows Phone as the operating system on all of its future smartphones, with the platform getting abandoned throughout the following few years.

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Android, iOS and windows phone operating system comparison:

Feature Android from Google iOS from Apple Windows Phone from Microsoft
Affordability 1st 3rd 2nd
Interface 1st 1st 1st
Apps 2nd 1st 3rd
App stores 2nd 1st 3rd
Alt app stores 1st 2nd 3rd
Battery life 1st 2nd 3rd
Updates 3rd 1st 2nd
Customizability 1st 3rd 2nd
Rooting 1st 2nd 3rd
Calls & messaging 1st 1st 1st
Email 1st 1st 1st
Peripherals 2nd 1st 3rd
Cloud services 1s 3rd 2nd
Photo Backup 1st 3rd 2nd
Voice assistants 2nd 3rd 1st
Connectivity 1st 1st 1st
Security 3rd 1st 2nd
Maps 1st 3rd 2nd
Camera 2nd 1st 3rd
Simplicity 1st 1st 1st

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There are four keys areas that differentiate the iPhone and Android phones:

1. Operating System:

One of the most important things that sets these types of smartphones apart is the operating system that they run. The operating system, or OS, is the foundational software that makes the phone work. The iPhone runs the iOS, while Android phones run the Android operating system. While all OSes do basically the same things, the iPhone and Android OSes aren’t the same and aren’t compatible. The iOS only runs on Apple devices, while the Android OS runs on Android phones and tablets.

2. Manufacturers:

Another major differentiator between the two is what companies make them. The iPhone is only made by Apple, while Android isn’t tied to a single manufacturer. Instead, Android phones are made by many different companies, including Motorola, HTC, Samsung, and Google. Any company that makes an agreement with Google, who created and owns the Android OS, can make an Android phone, while no company but Apple makes the iPhone.

3. Apps:

Both iOS and Android run apps, but their apps are not compatible with each other. While the same app may be available for both kinds of phone, you’ll need to get the version of the app designed for your operating system in order for it to work. There are more apps available for Android than for the iPhone, though according to some reports, tens of thousands of the apps in Google’s app store (called Google Play) are malware, don’t do what they say, or are low quality.

4. Security:

As smartphones become more and more central to our lives, how secure there are is an increasingly important issue. On this front, the two smartphone platforms are very different. Android is designed to be more interoperable and available on more devices; the downside of this is that it security is weaker. The amount of viruses and malware targeting iPhone is so small as to be unmeasurable, whereas 97% of the malware targeting smartphones attacks Android. Apple’s tight control of its platform, and some smart OS-design decisions, make iPhone the most secure mobile platform.

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The Differences between iPhone And Android Users:

As Business Insider’s Jim Edwards often points out, there’s a difference between “iPhone people” and “Android people.” A big aspect has to do with the price range of the handsets for those operating systems, but once those customers settle into their devices, it turns out that consumers use iPhones and Android phones rather differently. Based on comScore data charted for us by Statista, there are more people using Android apps than iPhone apps – which makes sense, since Android is killing iOS in global smartphone market share – but iPhone owners tend to spend more hours on their apps, and they also make more money in general. But that makes sense: More than 80% of Apple devices are “high-end,” while ~60% of Android devices are considered “low-end,” since they cost less than $200. Apple currently sells zero “low-end” devices.

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User interface:

Every computer that is to be operated by an individual requires a user interface. The user interface is usually referred to as a shell and is essential if human interaction is to be supported. The user interface views the directory structure and requests services from the operating system that will acquire data from input hardware devices, such as a keyboard, mouse or credit card reader, and requests operating system services to display prompts, status messages and such on output hardware devices, such as a video monitor or printer. The two most common forms of a user interface have historically been the command-line interface, where computer commands are typed out line-by-line, and the graphical user interface, where a visual environment (most commonly a WIMP) is present.

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Flexible Interfaces:

The core services on smartphones all tie in to the idea of a multipurpose device that can effectively multitask. A user can watch a video, field a phone call, then return to the video after the call, all without closing each application. Or he or she can flip through the digital calendar and to-do list applications without interrupting the voice call. All of the data stored on the phone can be synchronized with outside applications or manipulated by third-party phone applications in numerous ways

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Mobile app:

A mobile app is a computer program designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices. The term “app” is a shortening of the term “application software”. It has become very popular and in 2010 was listed as “Word of the Year” by the American Dialect Society. Mobile apps were originally offered for general productivity and information retrieval, including email, calendar, contacts, and stock market and weather information. However, public demand and the availability of developer tools drove rapid expansion into other categories, such as mobile games, factory automation, GPS and location-based services, banking, order-tracking, ticket purchases and recently mobile medical apps. Mobile User Interface (UI) Design is essential in the creation of mobile apps. According to market research firm Gartner, 102 billion apps will be downloaded in 2013 (91% of them will be free) but they will still generate US$26 billion, up 44.4% on 2012′s US$18 billion. An analyst report estimates that the app economy creates revenues of more than €10 billion per year within the European Union, while over 529,000 jobs have been created in 28 EU states due to the growth of the app market.

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Mobile apps:

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With huge powerful applications, smartphones allow their users to stay in touch with each other in their work and extend their social connection in many ways. Smartphones offer limitless access to news, social networks, games, entertainment, e-mails, media management, core functionality and utility applications, business, productivity and lifestyle applications. Smartphones give access to a wide range of social networks with each one having one or more dedicated applications. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have a number of dedicated applications that let people read,  post, share, like and follow from anywhere at any time.

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Third-party software/application:

These are software created by programmers or publishers independent of the manufacturer of the hardware for which it is intended. Because third party apps increase the capabilities of electronic devices, most manufacturers make their electronic devices compatible with them. Third party applications are programs written to work within operating systems, but are written by individuals or companies other than the provider of the operating system. For example, Microsoft® systems come packed with several software applications. Of these, any program authored by Microsoft is a first party application. Any program authored by a different company or an individual is a third party application; the same being true for Apple™ and Linux™ systems. In this equation the second party is the user.

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Currently, the two major smartphone platforms in use are Android (by Google) and iOS (by Apple). An application written for a specific platform can usually work on any smartphone using the same platform. Applications for smartphones are also faster and better integrated with the phone’s UI than Java applications. Applications written for a given smartphone platform can usually run on any smartphone with that platform, regardless of manufacturer. Compared to Java or BREW applications, native smartphone applications usually run faster and integrate more tightly with the phone’s features and user interface.

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Applications on smartphones:

As of July 2014, Android users were able to choose between 1.3 million apps. Apple’s App Store remained the second-largest app store with 1.2 million available apps.  But when exactly is too much, too much? Smartphones and their featured app markets have allowed us to do practically anything – shop online, download music, listen to music, send emails, play games, and banking. Apps are so diverse that they can virtually impact every facet of our lives. Data has become so intimately woven into our lives that it’s enhancing the way we engage with physical reality. The physical and digital worlds are coalescing to turn us into all-knowing, always-connected beings. Soon, manufacturers will no longer be able to sell single-function gadgets lacking an Internet connection because those gadgets will become obsolete. TV makers and car companies are marketing app store features – all with the common goal of trapping consumers inside their product lines. Many companies and industries find themselves threatened because an app can easily replace single-use products. Inevitably, the more people immerse their personal lives into digital media, the more privacy we give up. Businesses are already making apps that have more information about our personal lives than ever before. The Apple company’s single point of control over the digital world is threatening creative freedom and fostering conformity. In the future, smartphones will enable us to do more than they ever have before, but there are consequences, such as censorship, digital conformity, and loss of freedom and privacy.

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WhatsApp:

WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia and yes, those phones can all message each other! Because WhatsApp Messenger uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends. WhatsApp uses 3G or Wi-Fi (when available) to message with friends and family. Use WhatsApp to send and receive messages, pictures, audio notes, and video messages.

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Mobile Web vs. Apps:

The mobile web is just a way of referring to all the website that have mobile-enabled pages. The term also loosely includes most of the Internet because you can still see almost any wibsite with a mobile device … you just can’t necessarily see it all that well. Unlike mobile websites, apps are not hosted on servers. Apps are self-contained programs that are typically optimized for use on smartphones and tablets. Some apps have similar functionality to their sister websites and behave like little portable microsites, while other apps behave more like true software programs on your computer.

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You can visualize software for smartphones as a software stack. The stack consists of the following layers:

•kernel — management systems for processes and drivers for hardware

•middleware — software libraries that enable smartphone applications (such as security, Web browsing and messaging)

•application execution environment (AEE) — application programming interfaces, which allow developers to create their own programs

•user interface framework — the graphics and layouts seen on the screen

•application suite — the basic applications users access regularly such as menu screens, calendars and message inboxes

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Wi-Fi connection:

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Wi-Fi is the name of a popular wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless high-speed Internet and network connections. Wi-Fi (or WiFi) is a local area wireless technology that allows an electronic device to participate in computer networking using 2.4 GHz UHF and 5 GHz SHF ISM radio bands. A common misconception is that the term Wi-Fi is short for “wireless fidelity,” however this is not the case. The Wi-Fi Alliance, the organization that owns the Wi-Fi registered trademark term specifically defines Wi-Fi as any “wireless local area network (WLAN) products that are based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11 standards.” Wi-Fi works with no physical wired connection between sender and receiver by using radio frequency (RF) technology, a frequency within the electromagnetic spectrum associated with radio wave propagation. When an RF current is supplied to an antenna, an electromagnetic field is created that then is able to propagate through space. The cornerstone of any wireless network is an access point (AP). The primary job of an access point is to broadcast a wireless signal that computers can detect and “tune” into. In order to connect to an access point and join a wireless network, computers and devices must be equipped with wireless network adapters. Many devices can use Wi-Fi, e.g. personal computers, video-game consoles, smartphones, digital cameras, tablet computers and digital audio players. These can connect to a network resource such as the Internet via a wireless network access point. Such an access point (or hotspot) has a range of about 20 meters (66 feet) indoors and a greater range outdoors. Hotspot coverage can comprise an area as small as a single room with walls that block radio waves, or as large as many square kilometers achieved by using multiple overlapping access points.

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Wi-Fi is a type of short-area wireless networking. It is commonly used in homes and offices to create a network that can be accessed by computers, smartphones, game consoles, home theater devices, and other gadgets. This allows these devices to access the Internet without needing a wired connection. Wi-Fi is also used in public hotspots, which is an Internet access point made available in a public location. Not all smartphones support Wi-Fi, but it is available on many models. Accessing the Internet on a smartphone via Wi-Fi can have several advantages. It typically offers a faster connection than many cellular networks/ data connection (though some 3G networks will offer speedier connections). You can use a Wi-Fi connection to send and receive e-mail and surf the Web, often without using the available minutes on your smartphone’s data plan. You should read the fine print of your contract to confirm this, but it can potentially save you money, especially if you don’t have an unlimited data plan.

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Smartphone Screen:

One of the main characteristics of smartphones is their screen. It usually fills virtually the entire phone surface; screen size usually defines the size of a smartphone. Their size is measured in diagonal inches, starting from 2.45 inches. Phones with screens larger than 5.2 inches are called “phablets”. Smartphones with screens over 4.5 inches commonly need to be moved around in a single hand or used with both hands, since the average thumb cannot cover the entire screen surface. There are several types of screens including LCD, LED, OLED, AMOLED, IPS and others.

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What is the right screen size?

The ideal screen size ranges from 4.0 to 5.0 inches, because handsets in this range maximize versatility and functionality. For example, smartphones in this category are more comfortable to hold in one hand and they easily fit into your pocket.

4.0 to 5.0 Inches are:

•Comfortable to hold

•Easily fits into your pocket

•Relatively light weight

•Not too big and not too small

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Why smartphone screens are getting bigger:

Glance at any major smartphone line, and you’ll find a similar pattern: Screen sizes are getting bigger, year after year, model after model. Let’s start with an audit of the world’s most famous Android smartphone line—just look at those Samsung phones inch upward. Not to be outdone, HTC has kept pace with Samsung’s escalating screen sizes, and Nokia has followed industry trends for its Lumia line as well. Even Apple—which once described its 4-inch iPhone’s screen as a “dazzling display of common sense”—appears poised to follow its rivals.  Big-screen phones are growing on shoppers. In fact, phablets (phones with displays 5.2 inches or larger) now account for about a quarter of all smartphones sold. Phablets such as the HTC One Max (5.9 inches) and Nokia Lumia 1520 (6 inches) tend to be heavier and can be a tight fit for front pockets. But some are willing to live with the larger size, especially those who don’t want to carry a separate tablet. After selling more 10 million units by the third quarter of 2012, it was clear that phablets captivated many customers. Why were some customers attracted by those seemingly cumbersome gigantic phones? Surprisingly, it is because of the same thing as average-sized smartphones – convenience. Phablets make it easier to see the content in the screen, especially webpages. As a result, you won’t have to zoom in and out repeatedly to view a webpage or read a document.

Benefits of Phablets:

•Larger screen enables you to see much more

•Ideal for the elderly and those with vision problems

•Suitable for watching movies and videos

•Good for reading ebooks

•Improved multitasking

Disadvantages of Phablets:

•Less comfort

•Difficult to use with one hand

•Cannot fit in small pockets

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The chart below shows that smartphone screen size is increasing over time:

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Manufacturers have always wanted to make bigger phones—technology simply hasn’t allowed it until recently. In 2007, both pixels and battery life came at a hefty premium. Trying to power a 5-inch display with a reasonably high pixel count just wasn’t a possibility. Today, battery and display technology allow manufacturers to make crisp, 6-inch-plus screens that run for well over a day. It’s the simplest explanation, and perhaps the best one so far. It helps explain why manufacturers wouldn’t touch designs bigger than 4 inches before, but now they churn out 5-inch-plus models routinely. The pixel densities and battery capacities have scaled high over time. The smartphone is turning into our primary computer.  Even in 2007, it wasn’t yet clear that the smartphone would become the staple product that it is today—the sort of device that could one day replace most personal computers. Seven years ago, the smartphone was still a combination of three less significant products: a music player, a mobile web browser, and cell phone. Today, the smartphone connects people around the world like nothing before it. Citizens of third-world countries are unlikely to own cars and computers, but they are rapidly buying smartphones. So how does this relate to screen size? As smartphones become our primary devices, doing the jobs once held by computers and even televisions, we need a product that can change, like a chameleon, to serve all of these functions.  Before 2010, the extra real estate was unnecessary. After all, we were using phones mostly for making calls, listening to music, or doing a bit of light web-browsing on bad mobile interfaces, making mental notes to do our real work when we got back to our computers. Today, the web—from site interfaces to television to native apps—is often designed primarily for the mobile format. The smartphone is no longer just a phone, but a hybrid of devices—and increasingly, the most common way to interact with the world. A bigger screen allows a mobile device to play all of these roles at once. We’ve ridiculed the so-called phablet, but perhaps we’ve been headed in that direction all along. Maybe bigger is better.

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Screen Resolution and Quality:

From the iPhone’s retina display to HTC’s Super LCD screens, it is obvious that manufacturers put a lot of emphasis on the display of their smartphones—and for good reasons. The display is the first thing you see when you turn on the screen. As a result, manufacturers are not only concerned with the size of the screen, but with the quality of it as well. Two key factors that determine display quality are resolution and display technology. Buy devices with at least a 720p display and a pixel density of 300 ppi. Screen resolution is basically the amount of pixels in the screen. If you move very close to a TV or a computer monitor, you would notice miniature individual squares, so to speak. Those “squares” are individual pixels. The more pixels a screen has, the clearer the display will be. If the screen has enough pixels, the human eye cannot see them—which is where the term “retina display” comes from. Therefore, a high resolution display enables you to see more on the screen with much more clarity and detail. When buying a phone, make sure the display has a resolution of 1280 by 720 or higher. LCD screens have a slight advantage over AMOLED screens due to accuracy and brightness. Newer forms of LCD displays such as IPS and S-LCD provide even greater color accuracy with excellent viewing angles. AMOLED displays provide saturated colors that make more vivid. Though they provide good color saturation, the colors are not always accurate in AMOLED displays. There always seems to be bluish tint or a yellow wish hue in the screen. The size of the screen definitely matters, but so do the brightness, sharpness, color and viewing angles. Right now, 1080p screens (1920 x 1080 pixels) are the sharpest you’ll find on smartphones. However there are some 720p displays (1280 x 720 pixels), such as the one on the Moto X, deliver fantastic image quality. You must put smartphone in your hand to evaluate the viewing angles; if the screen washes out when you tilt the device, think twice about that purchase.

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Touchscreen:

A touchscreen is an electronic visual display that the user can control through simple or multi-touch gestures by touching the screen with a special stylus/pen and/or one or more fingers. Some touchscreens use an ordinary or specially coated gloves to work while others use a special stylus/pen only. The user can use the touchscreen to react to what is displayed and to control how it is displayed (for example by zooming the text size). The touchscreen enables the user to interact directly with what is displayed, rather than using a mouse, touchpad, or any other intermediate device (other than a stylus, which is optional for most modern touchscreens). There are a variety of touchscreen technologies that have different methods of sensing touch including resistive touchscreen, surface acoustic wave touchscreen, capacitive touchscreen etc.

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Resistive and capacitive technologies dominate the market for transparent touch technology applied to display screens in mobile devices. And the two approaches have very distinct differences. One requires moving parts, while the other is solid state. One relies on electrical resistance to sense touches, while the other relies on electrical capacitance. One is analog and the other is digital. (Analog approaches measure a change in the value of a signal, such as the voltage, while digital technologies rely on the binary choice between the presence and absence of a signal.)

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Resistive touchscreen:

The traditional touch screen technology is analog resistive. Electrical resistance refers to how easily electricity can pass through a material. These panels work by detecting how much the resistance to current changes when a point is touched. This process is accomplished by having two separate layers. Typically, the bottom layer is made of glass and the top layer is a plastic film. When you push down on the film, it makes contact with the glass and completes a circuit. The glass and plastic film are each covered with a grid of electrical conductors. These can be fine metal wires, but more often they are made of a thin film of transparent conductor material. In most cases, this material is indium tin oxide (ITO). The electrodes on the two layers run at right angles to each other: parallel conductors run in one direction on the glass sheet and at right angles to those on the plastic film. When you press down on the touch screen, contact is made between the grid on the glass and the grid on the film. The voltage of the circuit is measured, and the X and Y coordinates of the touch position is calculated based on the amount of resistance at the point of contact. This analog voltage is processed by analog-to-digital converters (ADC) to create a digital signal that the device’s controller can use as an input signal from the user. You can use almost anything to create an input signal: finger tip, fingernail, stylus — just about anything with a smooth tip. (Sharp tips would damage the film layer.) The biggest problem with resistive panels in consumers’ eyes is that they can sense only one touch at a time. If you touch the panel in two places at once, the combined effect will produce one coordinate for the touch point, and that will be different from either of the two actual points. There are ways to create resistive panels that can sense multiple touches at one time, but these can be expensive and complex, such as creating a matrix of separate contact pads on one of the layers.

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Capacitive touchscreen:

Modern Smartphone uses capacitive touchscreen. A capacitive touchscreen panel consists of an insulator such as glass, coated with a transparent conductor such as indium tin oxide (ITO). In the capacitive system, a layer that stores electrical charge is placed on the glass panel of the monitor. When a user touches the monitor with his or her finger, some of the charge is transferred to the user, so the charge on the capacitive layer decreases. This decrease is measured in circuits located at each corner of the monitor. The computer calculates, from the relative differences in charge at each corner, exactly where the touch event took place and then relays that information to the touch-screen driver software. The electrical charge involved is tiny, which is why you don’t feel any shock when you touch the screen, but this little change is enough to be measured. Because each conductor is checked separately, it is possible to identify multiple simultaneous touch points. As the human body is also an electrical conductor, touching the surface of the screen results in a distortion of the screen’s electrostatic field, measurable as a change in capacitance. Different technologies may be used to determine the location of the touch. The location is then sent to the controller for processing. Unlike a resistive touchscreen, one cannot use a capacitive touchscreen through most types of electrically insulating material, such as gloves. This disadvantage especially affects usability in consumer electronics, such as touch tablet PCs and capacitive smartphones in cold weather. It can be overcome with a special capacitive stylus, or a special-application glove with an embroidered patch of conductive thread passing through it and contacting the user’s fingertip.

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Multi-touch:

In computing, multi-touch refers to the ability of a surface (touchscreen) to recognize the presence of more than one or more than two points of contact with the surface. This plural-point awareness is often used to implement advanced functionality such as pinch to zoom or to activate certain subroutines attached to predefined gestures.

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Windows Touch gestures:

If your touchscreen can recognize at least two touch points (multi-touch capacitive touchscreen), you can use Windows Touch gestures. Most modern smartphones have multi-touch capacitive touchscreen.

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The following table describes Windows Touch gestures.

Gesture How to perform Description
GesturePan Touch and drag the page with either one or two fingers. Use panning to see another part of a page that has scroll bars. For example, you can pan to see part of a long document or spreadsheet that doesn’t appear in the window. When you pan with one finger, dragging your finger vertically moves the page, while dragging your finger horizontally selects text on the page.
GestureZoom To zoom out, touch two points on the item, and then move your fingers toward each other, as if you’re pinching them together. To zoom in, touch two points on the item, and then move your fingers away from each other, as if you’re stretching them apart. Use zooming to make an item on the screen larger or smaller. With a picture, zooming in shows a smaller area in more detail; zooming out shows a larger area.
GestureRotate Touch two points on the item, and then move the item in the direction that you want to rotate it. Use rotating to move a picture or other item on the screen in a circular direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise).
GesturePress and tap Press the item with one finger, then quickly tap with another finger, while continuing to press the item with the first finger. Use press and tap to access the shortcut menu. Press and tap does the same thing as press and hold or right-clicking an item.

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Tap the screen, don’t stab it:

I always see smartphone novices stabbing at their screens, or holding their finger down much longer than necessary. To launch an app, just lightly tap its icon with the pad of your finger. (A fingernail won’t work, as touch screens require a capacitive–i.e. fingertip–touch.) On an iPhone, tapping and holding on an icon will make all the icons start shaking. That’s intentional: you can rearrange your icons (by dragging and dropping them) while in this mode. Press either the Home or Power button to stop the shaking. On Android phones, you tap, hold, and drag icons to rearrange them; there’s no special “mode” like on the iPhone.

But remember: when you want to run an app or swipe the screen, use a quick, light touch.

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Storage and Expansion:

Given that you’ll store everything from photos and music to videos and apps on your smartphone, opt for as much internal memory up front as you can. Although 16GB is fairly standard, you may opt for 32GB of storage so you don’t run out of room. The 32GB iPhone 5s, for example, costs $299. But you’ll also find some cheaper options with that much space, such as the HTC One; it starts at $199 for 32GB. It’s becoming a lot harder to find, but if you like the idea of expandable storage, choose a device that has a microSD card slot, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, Note 3 and Mega. As users neglect MP3 players, point-and-shoot cameras and portable video cameras, storage space is quickly becoming an imperative feature. What is more, the price changes significantly between different levels of storage. For example, the iPhone 5S 16GB version was originally retailed at $649, while the 32 GB version was $749 – a whopping difference of $100. If you are on a budget, the version with the least amount of space is clearly the viable option.

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How much free storage space does your smartphone really have?

Apple is currently facing a lawsuit over the amount of space that the iOS 8 update takes up on iPhone, iPads, and iPods . The complaint claims that iOS 8 can occupy more than 23 percent of the storage available on some devices, and further goes on to claim that upgrading devices from iOS 7 to 8 can cause users to lose a further 1.3GB of storage. Apple has deep pockets, a factor that makes it a target for such lawsuits, but how much free space do other smartphones leave users with? As it turns out, finding the answer to this question is not as easy as it perhaps should be. The figure below shows free space offered by eight different 16GB handsets.

 

The reality is every phone has to sacrifice some of its internal memory to the operating system, they never live up to the sales talk of 8,16 or 32GB. But many manufacturers further stuff their phone with pre-loaded apps, skins and bloatware. And no phone has more piping, braiding and frills than the Samsung Galaxy S4. The problem is made worse by the fact that many high-end smartphones do not offer a micro SD card slot to allow the user to expand the storage, a move that enables the manufacturer to put a premium price tag on higher-capacity models. The fact that topping the list are iPhones and Nexus devices highlights how delivering a smartphone unencumbered by bloatware offers a real and tangible benefit to the end user. Bloatware costs gigabytes, which in turn costs money.

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The difference between off and standby:

When you’re not actually using your phone, it stands to reason it should be off, right? Wrong: “off” means actually powering down the phone, much like you do with your computer. When it’s off, you can’t make calls, run apps, or do anything else. Because, well, it’s off! Instead, when you’re not actually using your phone, you want it to retreat to standby mode–meaning only the screen shuts off. This happens one of two ways: automatically, after a set period of inactivity; or by pressing (but not holding!) the power button. You should get in the habit of doing the latter before sticking the phone back in your pocket or bag, if only to preserve battery life–but also to prevent accidental dialing or app launching.

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You can block numbers:

No longer do you have to suffer PPI claims lines and other nuisance callers, as most smartphones offer the ability to block numbers. Now that iOS 7 has arrived this is a breeze from an iPhone. There are several ways to do it but the easiest is usually just to go into your call log, tap the ‘i’ next to the number you want to block and then tap ‘block this caller’. On Android things can be a bit more convoluted as how you do it depends in part on what phone you have. It may be that you can do it in a similar way to iOS 7, as for example on the HTC One you can simply tap and hold a number in your call history and then tap ‘Block contact’. Many other smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, feature an auto reject list, which is generally found in the settings menu and allows you to manually add numbers to a list of rejected callers. However if all else fails there are also apps to do the job, such as ‘Truecaller’ and ‘Mr. Number’. Sadly it’s not currently possible to natively block a number on BlackBerry 10, nor can Windows Phone 8 do it natively, however there are apps available from BlackBerry World that do the job, while Nokia has implemented a blocked numbers list on Lumia phones, which you can access from the ‘extras + info’ section of the settings screen.

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Best Voice Recognition Apps for Your Smartphone:

Voice-recognition software is nothing new. But put it on a smartphone, and it comes to life. All of the frustrations of trying to control your PC by voice–fiddling for a microphone, repeating yourself again and again, resisting the urge to relent and turn to your trusty keyboard–are eliminated when you use the same technology on your mobile phone. And it’s becoming more popular all the time, thanks in large measure to the improved speech recognition capabilities of today’s mobile phone platforms, such as Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. But that’s not the only factor behind the uptick in mobile voice recognition. There is demand for improved user interfaces, especially from users who don’t want to rely solely on a touchscreen to interact with their phone. In addition, the increasing prevalence of laws restricting the use of cell phones while driving has fueled demand for these voice-based apps.

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Use Voice Dictation to save time on Android and iPhone:

Touch-screen keyboards can be slow, especially on phones with small screens. To enter text more naturally, you can use your Smartphone’s voice dictation feature. Just speak — punctuation included — and your device will convert what you say to text. This works in other languages besides English. In fact, it can even be more useful with non-English languages. For example, you can speak a language that requires accents or a larger alphabet of characters to save time over tapping them in. To use voice dictation on Android, open any app and bring up a keyboard by tapping in a text field you want to type in. Tap the microphone icon at the bottom-left corner of your keyboard.

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Voice dictation:

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Just start speaking to use voice dictation. Android will insert the words as you speak them. Bear in mind that it won’t automatically insert punctuation for you. You’ll need to speak the punctuation mark you want to use. For example, if you’d like to type “I’m good. How are you doing?” you’d need to speak the words “I’m good period how are you doing question mark.”

Here are the handful of voice dictation commands that work on Android:

•Punctuation: Period (.), comma (,), question mark (?), exclamation or exclamation point (!)

•Line spacing: Enter or new line, new paragraph

Unfortunately, Android’s list of voice dictation commands is very limited compared to the comprehensive set available on iPhone. On iPhone, words won’t appear as you speak. Instead, you’ll need to speak your message and then tap Done. After you do, the words you spoke will appear in the text field. Compared to Android, iOS offers much more fine-grained control over voice dictation. However, there’s still no “backspace”, “delete”, or “undo” command that you can speak to undo any mistakes you make while speaking. You’ll have to go and edit your message afterwards to perform any corrections. Remember that speaking clearly is very important. Obviously, voice dictation will work best in a quiet room and very poorly on a noisy street.

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Voice Search on smartphone to ask any questions:

Ask your questions out loud and get answers spoken back whether you are out and about or sitting at your desk. Just tap the microphone icon on the Google search bar and speak up. This works on the Google app for iOS, Android and Chrome browsers for laptops and desktops. Searching on a smartphone just by using your voice is a feature that is still in its infancy, and it’s not exactly a shock to learn that teens are using and embracing it more than their elders.

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OK Google:

“OK Google” is the voice command used to activate Google Now voice search on your Android smartphone, as well as other Google devices such as its Google Glass smartglasses. Google Now can be accessed by opening your phone’s Google Search app or Google Search widget and either tapping the microphone icon or saying “OK Google”.  You can ask Google Now pretty much anything you like, just as you normally would with Google Search. However, you can also use the “OK Google” command to set alarms, make calls and texts, schedule meetings and more on your Android device. For example, you might tell it to “Show me walking directions to get home”, “Remember to book flights tomorrow”, “Open Calendar app” or whatever you like.

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Connection of smartphone to PC to transfer data either way:

Android smartphones offer portable access to the Internet and hundreds of thousands of applications and serve as excellent companions to laptop computers. Once you enable your Android device’s mass storage mode and connect it to your laptop, you can browse the contents of your Android device’s memory from your computer and move files back and forth between the two devices. Connect your USB data cable to both your laptop and your Android device. A “USB connected” notification will appear in your Android device’s notification panel. Open your Android device’s notification panel, and then tap the “USB connected” notification. Tap the “Turn on USB storage” button at the bottom of your Android device’s screen, and then tap “OK.” Open the “Start” menu on your computer, click “Computer” and then double-click your Android device in the list of disk drives.

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Wireless transfer:

Bluetooth – Pairing phone to laptop:

Connecting a phone and laptop computer through bluetooth is known as pairing; the prime requirement for this to happen is for the laptop and phone to have bluetooth hardware installed and enabled at the time of pairing, to create a bluetooth wireless network. In most laptop computers, there is a dedicated key available to switch the bluetooth connection ON and OFF. If you have an older generation laptop, then additional hardware, known as a bluetooth adapter must be plugged in the USB port. After enabling Bluetooth, search for active devices on your laptop, then select the mobile phone. Now you are ready to transfer data through this secure network. First time pairing requires you to key in a 4-digit code to send and receive data.

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Transfer via Wi-Fi:

Apple users already know the convenience of Airdrop, which allows you basically set up an ad-hoc network to wirelessly share photos, videos, documents, and other content with nearby Apple users. This is the era of modern technology and now it is possible to transfer files from laptop to android mobiles using inbuilt Wi-Fi in computer as well as android mobiles using applications.

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QR code:

A QR code (quick response code) consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device (such as a camera) and processed using Reed–Solomon error correction until the image can be appropriately interpreted. The required data are then extracted from patterns present in both horizontal and vertical components of the image. QR codes can be used on various mobile device operating systems. These devices support URL redirection, which allows QR codes to send metadata to existing applications on the device. Many paid or free apps are available with the ability to scan the codes and hard-link to an external URL.

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If you want to transfer data between smartphone and PC using Wi-Fi, you can use application MobileGo which uses QR code to get connected with PC. Then data exchange between PC and smartphone becomes easy.

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NFC:

Near Field Communications allows your smartphone to transmit data to other phones and tablets in the vicinity. It’s really handy for sharing pictures and music. You can even use it to pay at stores and restaurants. Plenty of great Android and Windows phones offer NFC, but not Apple.

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Internet connectivity to your PC via your smartphone:

Sharing Web connection between smartphone and PC:

Sharing a Web connection between a mobile device and a laptop can help you to cut down on your monthly Internet costs. An Android-powered mobile device can also provide you with Internet connectivity when no other Internet services are available. Sharing a Web connection in this way is called tethering. Your Android device has a feature called Portable Hotspot designed specifically for this purpose. Portable Hotspot rebroadcasts your Android device’s cellular network signal via Wi-Fi. If your laptop doesn’t have Wi-Fi capabilities, you can also tether your laptop to your Android device using a USB cable.

Portable Hotspot:

Touch the “Settings” icon on the home screen of your Android device to load the Settings app. Touch “Wireless & Networks” and then touch “Tethering & Portable Hotspot.” Place a check mark in the “Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot” check box to enable hot spot functionality. Touch the “Security” menu, select “WPA2 PSK” and then enter a password for your hot spot connection in the provided field. Swipe your mouse pointer to the upper-right corner of your laptop’s screen to launch the Charms menu. Click the “Settings” icon and then click the “Network” icon. The Network icon looks like a series of vertical bars. Click the name of your Android device’s hot spot connection in the list of available networks. Enter the password you created in Step 4 and then click “Connect” to begin tethering your Android device to your laptop.

USB Tethering:

Connect your Android device to your laptop using the USB cable that came with Android device. Touch the “Settings” icon on the home screen of the Android device. Touch “Wireless & networks” and then touch “Tethering & portable hotspot.” Place a check mark in the “USB Tethering” check box to begin sharing your Android’s Web connection with your laptop.

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Smartphone camera:

There’s now a handful of smartphones with 20-MP (megapixel) cameras or higher — and more are certainly on the way. However, the quality of both the sensor and the images is more important. For instance, the iPhone 5s has an 8-MP camera, but its new sensor allows for bigger pixels and, therefore, sharper-looking photos. Also look for camera features that you’ll actually use. The Galaxy S4 and Note 3 both sport a nifty Eraser mode feature that filters out photobombers from your images. The Nokia Lumia 1020 has prosumer-grade manual controls to help you get the best shot in all sorts of conditions. Optical image stabilization, which steadies your shots to reduce blur, is found in the LG G2 and Lumia 1020.

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Taking better Photos with Your Smartphone’s Camera:

Focus:

Before snapping a photo, look at the screen and ensure the focus is correct. If the object you want to take a photo of isn’t correctly in focus, try adjusting the position of your smartphone or moving back. You can also touch the part of the scene you want to focus on the screen, and your smartphone’s camera will focus on that part of the scene. Be sure to always glance at the screen and ensure the focus is right before snapping a photo.

Don’t Zoom — Digital Zoom is Bad:

Here’s the biggest difference when switching to a smartphone from an old point-and-shoot camera: Those point-and-shoot cameras offered optical zoom — when you zoomed in, the lens physically moved to magnify the image. Modern smartphone cameras still let you zoom in by pinching, but you shouldn’t do this. There’s no physical lens that moves in to magnify. In other words, digital zoom is really more like performing a crop. Picture taking a normal photograph, and then later cutting up the photograph, taking a single part of the photograph. That’s exactly what digital zoom is doing. You’re just cropping a photo before taking it, and you’ll lose detail you could pick up by moving closer to the thing you’re photographing.

Use the Back Camera, not the Front Camera:

A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera, camera phone or smartphone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. They are usually flattering and made to appear casual. Selfies are all the rage, so many people are going around taking photographs with their smartphone’s front-facing camera — the one above the display. However, smartphone manufacturers generally include better, higher-detail cameras on the back of the phone. Just taking a photo with your smartphone’s rear camera instead of its front camera can get you a better picture. Of course, it’s tougher to take a selfie in this way. You could always ask someone else nearby to snap a photo of you. That’s what we all had to do before smartphones with front-facing cameras. Front-camera is installed for video call. Back-camera is installed for taking photo or video.

Don’t Use the Flash — Use Environmental Lighting:

This tip applies to old point-and-shoot cameras, too. Flash usually isn’t helpful, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. The bright light of a camera’s flash can illuminate an area and capture an image of something dark, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Sure, this is good if you need to get detailed images of a crime scene at night, but you probably don’t just care about accurately documenting every detail. You’re probably trying to capture a photo that looks more like what you’re seeing at the moment. Rather than use your camera’s flash, illuminate the thing you’re photographing with normal light from your environment. You may want to go into your Camera app’s settings and disable the flash to prevent it from firing off automatically. This one tip — avoiding the flash unless absolutely necessary — will help you take much better-looking photographs.

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Be sure to keep your smartphone’s camera lens clean, too. You may need to carefully clean it if it’s picked up dirt and smudges. Try to avoid putting your phone in your pocket along with keys, coins, and other objects that could potentially scratch the lens. How resilient your phone’s camera lens is depends on the type of material it’s made of.

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Smartphone camera vs. point and shoot digital camera:

While the best camera is the one that you happen to have with you, smartphone cameras simply do not have the advanced capabilities of a full-sized digital camera. Most people have a cell phone or smartphone with a camera, and they usually carry their smartphone with them at all times, as the size and weight of a smartphone is very convenient. While smartphone cameras are improving and seeing greater usage, they are missing some major features found in regular digital cameras. The features that smartphones do have are usually automatic, not manual, limiting control over the photographic outcome. Consumers should know about the different feature sets of digital cameras and smartphone cameras, and how the advanced features in cameras make it desirable to have both a camera and a smartphone. Any camera is better than no camera at all. No picture means it did not happen. Since most people carry their smartphone with them at all times, a camera is always at hand and at least some kind of picture is feasible. But, what kind of photo is it? Chances are that a photograph from a smartphone will be less than desirable. Smartphones are limited in capability compared to their older, big brother, the venerable camera. While the smartphone is the cheeky newcomer on the block, it is missing the flexibility, the control, and the wisdom of the digital camera. Nonetheless, it’s no secret that the smartphone has cannibalized digital camera sales. Market research firm IDC reports that smartphone sales topped 1 billion in 2013, up 38 percent year over year. CIPA (the Camera & Imaging Products Association) shows a 36 percent drop in digital camera sales over the same period: Shipments plummeted from around 98 million in 2012 to 63 million units in 2013, with the biggest losses coming among mid- and low-priced models. Some consumers even swear their new phones are taking better pictures than their digital cameras ever did. When you see the comparisons, the quality does, indeed, look pretty darn close.

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Turn your Smartphone into a WebCam:

You can turn your smartphone into a webcam for your video calls. You can use your smartphone as webcam for Skype calls, GTalk, Yahoo video call etc. While some of these apps may be free, some may be premium apps. There are good numbers of apps in the Google Play Store that can turn your smartphone into a webcam, while some of these apps may work only on Wi-Fi, some others will work with Bluetooth connection.

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Thermal camera:

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Thermal camera in smartphone:

 

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When FLIR launched its first smartphone-based thermal camera, the biggest annoyance people had was that the hardware was baked into an iPhone 5 case. Anyone who wasn’t toting Apple’s newest two smartphones was understandably aggrieved about that decision. That’s why, as a do-over, the company has released a second-generation FLIR, one that clips onto the bottom of your smartphone over Lightning or micro-USB, letting Android users in on the fun. Fingersoft Thermal Camera application for Android is freely available for download.

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Video calling feature on smartphones:

Video calling is not a recent development, but one that has been processed throughout time. It has finally emerged and is making quite the splash in the technology world. These enjoy many of the features found in smartphones, however they are much more than that. Phones with video calling capabilities provide instant face-to-face communication with anyone, anywhere. No more missing those life-changing moments. You will be there and see everything, all through the lens of your mobile device. Many cell phone providers offer smartphones that have many of the same features as these video calling phones. However, one of the key features that sets video calling phones apart from smartphones is the front-facing camera. Having the camera placed in the front allows you to easily hold the phone and communicate with the person you are video calling. Because without the video calling feature, what good would two cameras on your phone truly do for you?

Video Chat Apps for Your Smartphone:

FaceTime is still the best app out there as far as fluidity and video quality are concerned, but it only works over Wi-Fi and it only supports Apple devices running iOS. Apps like Skype and ooVoo allow you to place quality video (and voice) calls between Android and iOS devices, not to mention desktops. Not only that, but they work over 3G and 4G connections as well. If you have an Android smartphone with a front-facing camera, you can make the video calls right from your mobile phone with the latest version of the Skype Android app.

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Smartphone to TV and TV to smartphone:

Watch videos from your Smartphone on Your TV:

It’s a pretty fantastic world we live in these days – especially when it comes to mobile technology. Hours upon hours of entertainment lay at our fingertips, available virtually any place, anytime, all from a sleek little unit that fits in your pocket. However, as convenient and wondrous as smartphones are, there’s still something to be said for watching your favorite content on a big flat screen TV. And for those who access more content from their smartphone than anywhere else, that big screen in the living room can create some serious size envy. So why can’t you have your cake and see it too? You can, thanks to the magic of mirroring. A rapidly growing arsenal of devices now exists to allow anything on your phone to be mirrored on your TV. Some smart accessories help you stream content from your smartphone to your TV. The NETGEAR Push2TV® Wireless Display Adapter, for instance, lets you stream your personal media collection to your TV using Wi-Fi on your home network. It also supports Wi-Fi Direct, Miracast™ (seamless screen-sharing technology on Droid Maxx by Motorola and Droid Mini by Motorola) and Intel® WiDi. Another smart accessory to try is Google Chromecast. Setup is easy. Simply plug Chromecast into your TV’s HDMI port and connect it to your Wi-Fi network. Then, grab your mobile device and stream videos and music to your television. For example, you can stream content from your laptop’s Google Chrome™ browser tabs or your YouTube app to your television. Visit this list of Chromecast-supported apps to see which of your favorites will work. If both smartphone and TV are from the same manufacturer (whether they use DLNA or Miracast technology), they may come with apps that facilitate the connection process or even allow you to mirror your smartphone screen directly on the TV. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S® 5 uses the AllShare® app to stream content to compatible Samsung HDTVs. Several popular streaming-video subscription services have complementary apps that work between your mobile devices and your television—no cable required. This means that you can watch a video on your smartphone, stop it and then resume watching where you left off on your compatible Internet TV or vice versa.

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MHL (aka Mobile High-Definition Link) is a way to connect phones and other portable electronics to HD televisions and monitors, using an MHL cable connected to the micro USB port on your phone at one end and your screen’s HDMI port at the other. Not all phones support this but some do, with Samsung and Sony in particular supporting MHL on a number of handsets. Assuming your phone supports it, you can pick up an MHL cable relatively cheaply and then you’ll be able to experience media from your smartphone on a big screen. Many smartphones and tablets can use an HDMI cable (or an MHL to HDMI adapter) for a direct hookup to an HDMI-ready TV. Simply plug one end of the cable into your device and the other end into your TV. Once connected, what appears on the device will also appear on the TV, so you can look at pictures and video, surf the web, use apps or play games. Be sure to select the HDMI cable that’s compatible with your device. That’s great for video, but for games you’re still stuck with a touchscreen interface. However there are also a number of Bluetooth smartphone controllers available, including Samsung’s own Game Pad. With one of those in hand you can take smartphone gaming to a level that approaches home consoles.

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Watch TV on smartphone:

Fox Mobile announced their entry into the tv-on-your-smartphone field recently during the CTIA wireless conference in Las Vegas. Called BitBop, it’s an on-demand streaming service that gives you access to a boatload of TV shows right on your BlackBerry — with iPhone and Android apps heading our way soon. FLO TV allows you to stream live television to your iPhone with the help of a battery pack from Mophie that acts as a receiver. Another app that brings you live TV on your smartphone is MobiTV, which works with AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, and on over 400 devices. Exclusively for Android users, the SPB TV app doesn’t require a monthly subscription, but it does get you access to hundreds of public channels in over 17 countries. iTunes works perfectly with your iPhones or iPod Touches to bring you a variety of TV shows and movies to watch on the go. iTunes is free, of course, but unfortunately the shows you’ll be buying are not.

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Processing speed of smartphone:

Speed is still the ultimate prize in the smartphone arms race. You notice when apps lag or when swiping takes an eternity.

The iPhone 5s is the fastest smartphone on the market. Its A7 chip is even light years ahead of blazing fast phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the surprisingly quick Motorola Moto X. But don’t despair if your phone feels a little sluggish — there are ways to speed it up.

Slow smartphones:

Why do smartphones become slower over time?  Is it just an illusion that gradually over time you come to think that they are running slowly compared to when you originally purchased them, even if you wipe all data and start fresh?  Or do they actually become slower?  Or perhaps the human brain learns to process faster?

We all use a lot of different tech everyday; some older, most newer. The more new tech we use, the older and slower we perceive our existing systems. They also become slower because the technology keeps evolving while your smartphone doesn’t. With time, files weigh more and more, software use more memory. Your hardware needs to work more nowadays than when you bought it. Also, it is true that over time you have many applications that could be running in the background. When installing various software to your device, it is customary for old system files and invalid entries will continue to launch and run upon start up. Looking into your registry for errors and outdated files is the key to preventative maintenance. You may also stumble upon security threats, which really makes it worth your time and trouble. And, the new technologies are always changing the way old systems operate.

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To Speed Up your Android Phone:

1. Clean Up Those Apps!

This is one of those things that isn’t absolutely necessary, but will also definitely help speed up your phone a bit. It always helps to go through your installed applications every once in awhile and check for any that you are not using or ones that you just installed to try out and forgot to uninstall. Go ahead and uninstall any apps that you don’t need or want. This isn’t a major speed increase, but will help some and is a very good habit to get yourself into.

2. Watch Your Widgets!

Everyone loves their widgets, but getting to crazy with them can cost you some performance and speed. Go ahead and check to see which widgets you have up that you are actually using. Lots of widgets can cause your smartphone to run a bit slower than it could normally. Also realize that live widgets, or widgets that update frequently such as different weather widgets, can cost you more performance than some of the more stationary widgets. That being said, take a look at your widgets and maybe consider taking some of them off, or changing the update settings of your live widgets to less frequent. If you’ve gone widget crazy, a little clean up on your home screen can go a long way!

3. Use a Task Killer!

Advanced Task Killer can be downloaded for free via the Android Market. This app includes a lot of useful settings, such as an ‘Auto Kill’ feature, an ‘Ignore List’, and a widget to place on your home screen that will kill all your designated apps on press. If you use this app right, you can gain a decent amount of performance back on your smartphone.

4. No Live Wallpapers!

Live wallpapers are the one thing that anyone with an android phone can simply avoid using to gain a lot of performance.  Avoid using live wallpapers and you will have a faster smartphone!

5. Get Rooted!

This is obviously the best way to gain the largest performance increase on your Android smartphone, but it takes a little more work. Not everyone may want to root their phone, although it is a fairly quick and easy process now for most devices. Once you’re rooted, you have access to lots of custom made ROMs for your Android smartphone. Most of these come pre-overclocked to allow your phone’s processor to run significantly faster. A lot of them have settings as well for you to tweak the overclock speed to what you want. If you do not want to install a custom ROM on your smartphone, being rooted still allows you to use some useful apps in the marketplace. A useful overclocking app for good, stable performance boosting is SetCpu, which can be found of the Android Marketplace. Another app for rooted users is Titanium Backup, which allows you to uninstall unwanted system applications. To sum up, you really can’t go wrong by rooting your smartphone. This is the best way to get the biggest performance boost on your Android device.

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Rooting and jailbreaking smartphones:

Rooting is the process of allowing users of smartphones, tablets and other devices running the Android mobile operating system to attain privileged control (known as “root access”) within Android’s sub-system. Rooting is often performed with the goal of overcoming limitations that carriers and hardware manufacturers put on some devices. Thus, rooting gives the ability (or permission) to alter or replace system applications and settings, run specialized apps that require administrator-level permissions, or perform other operations that are otherwise inaccessible to a normal Android user. On Android, rooting can also facilitate the complete removal and replacement of the device’s operating system, usually with a more recent release of its current operating system. Jailbreaking describes the bypass of several types of Apple prohibitions for the end user: modifying the operating system (enforced by a “locked bootloader”), installing non-officially approved apps via sideloading, and granting the user elevated administration-level privileges. In both jailbreaking and rooting, you take administrative control over the operating system. However, the purpose of rooting is a little different than jailbreaking. The cellular carriers and the phone makers hate the entire idea. That’s because it takes control away from them and gives it to the phone’s owner. Rooting is legal for the purpose of interoperability but not copyright infringement.

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Rebooting smartphones:

Cell phone users rely on the cell phone for phone numbers, news, alerts, email and text messages, the time, and much more. The list of services and features of cell phones continues to grow. As a result of this reliance on cellular devices, when they are inefficiently operating due to slow performance or poor reception, the cell phone user may need to reboot or restart the cell phone. Rebooting means the same thing whether you’re dealing with a smartphone or computer. You simply turn it off, wait about 30 seconds to 1 minutes (for electrical purposes), and turn it on. You just rebooted your device.

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Design and Build Quality:

From the Samsung Galaxy’s Note III’s idiosyncratic leather back to the HTC One’s aluminum uni-body, it is clear that manufacturers are ostentatiously flaunting their phones’ design to consumers. But, should design really matter to you? Perhaps, just perhaps it should. That may sound blunt and harsh, but a phone’s design is not necessary for many users. Why? To safeguard their highly cherished phones, many users buy elephantine cases for withstanding drops and impacts. However, buying a big bulky case that covers most of the phone defeats the purpose of buying a phone with a phenomenal design – it really does. For instance, consumers awed at the appearance of HTC’s flagship phones. But, such beauty is completely veiled when it is chastised by a cumbersome case. Don’t even bother designing custom phones like the Moto X if you are going to cover it up with case. The same thing applies to switching the back cover of the phone to get a massive battery. However, if you are the type of person who endears design, doesn’t drop phones and doesn’t need cases, buying a magnificent phone will provide a good experience.

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Water proof smartphone:

We’ll continue to see the advance in nanocoatings to protect devices from water, dust and other hazards. Right now these phones are called “life proof” but there’s really little reason that all devices can’t support the technology. Motorola has had a few devices with this on board, the Xperia Z offers it and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Active takes advantage of it too. To put it simply, companies are able to spray down the components of a device with nanocoating so that, should they get wet, the entire phone isn’t damaged. It’s why we’re now seeing advertisements for devices that are “life proof” against a light spill or a dunk in the toilet. Now for the first time ever, you are able to take a device with yourself without having to worry about a big bulky waterproof case. You can go swimming in the pool with the Galaxy S4 Active in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes.

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Smartphone theft, security, malwares, spywares and encryption:

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Smartphone theft:

One out of two robberies involves the theft of a mobile phone. In order to minimize the chances of being a victim of theft of mobile devices, there have been several apps created to help those out that may be in a dangerous situation. There are now apps that may aid in personal security by providing immediate assistance. Kill switch solutions, a feature that is presently seen in Android and iOS smartphones on a software level, have become necessary in a world where cell phone theft has been on a dramatic rise in recent years. Thieves profit by reselling stolen devices, simply by doing a factory reset on the device, and making it ready for a new customer. The risk of theft means you should always be doing as much as you can to help protect your phone and its contents. In the event that your phone is lost or stolen, not only would you lose the device itself, but your personal information could also be vulnerable. A kill switch is a type of anti-theft software that, when activated, renders a smartphone useless by “bricking” the device in an attempt to make it much less attractive to a thief. The theft of smartphones has risen steadily alongside their increase in popularity and usage, prompting some companies, such as Apple and Samsung, to implement these kill switches on their own. Kill switches have proven to be a deterrent for thieves. San Francisco, for example, saw a 23 percent rise in smartphone thefts during 2013, but six months after the launch of Apple’s Activation Lock software, police reported a 38 percent drop in thefts. Even with positive results, there have been concerns over police use of kill switch software to cut short communications during civilian protests. And while bricking a smartphone has been shown to deter potential thieves, a stolen device can still be sold for parts or, in the case of kill switches, be put into airplane mode to render the switch ineffective. There’s always going to be value in smartphones, so there’s always going to be a reason to steal one as long as it’s easy. Qualcomm, the smartphone chipset manufacturer has officially announced SafeSwitch, a feature that can enable security in smartphones on a hardware level. Qualcomm SafeSwitch technology will enable users of SafeSwitch supported devices, using which, they can remotely lock their mobile devices if they are lost or stolen. Users will also be able to unlock them if they’re found. One of the advantages of Qualcomm’s kill switch solution is that SafeSwitch commands are verified by the hardware, making potential attacks (both malicious locking of phones, as well as unlocking stolen phones) less feasible.

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Lock screen security:

Have you got your device’s lock-screen settings sorted, so that if it gets stolen, the thief can’t access your apps and data?

Locking the screen on your smartphone is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to protect it. Four little numbers or an alphanumeric password can be an incredible deterrent to thieves, or even to inquisitive friends and family members, yet more than a quarter of smartphone owners in a recent study declined to do so. Those had not locked their screens had more nebulous concerns. Some of them had simply put it off; others wanted good Samaritans to be able to access a phone’s contacts in case it was ever lost; some cited the inconvenience of constantly unlocking phones, which the study authors admitted amounted to an hour each month; and some felt that the data stored on the phone simply wasn’t worth stealing. Whatever the justifications, the researchers argued that not locking your phone is the much riskier option of the two. Most smartphone users never log out of their social media or e-mail accounts, both of which hold tantalizing information for phone thieves. Many banks require only a valid e-mail address to reset a password, and many users have their Social Security and credit-card numbers buried in their e-mail messages.

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If you’re primarily concerned with garden-variety thieves, a lock pattern or PIN might be sufficient, if the lock pattern or PIN is long and strong enough. Some caution is required, because your fingers are greasy and leave smears on the phone, which are visible later. The thief might be able to figure out your lock pattern or PIN from these smudges. If you just want to protect yourself from a thief who grabs your phone and runs, then an unlock pattern or PIN may be sufficient. Realistically, such a thief probably just wants a free phone of their own; they probably don’t care about your data very much, or won’t expend much effort to try to get to it. So, as long as there is no trivial way for them to gain access to your data, the average thief won’t bother; they’ll just reset your phone to factory defaults and then start using it. On the other hand, if you have reason to think that you might be targeted by someone with an interest in the data on your phone, I don’t think any of these methods are enough to provide strong protection. Turning on encryption helps a bit, but probably does not provide strong protection.

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Tips to protect you and your smartphone if it is lost or stolen:

1) Set a Pass-code (could also be a pattern or your fingerprint or password)

2) Activate Find My iPhone (on iPhones)

3) Set Auto-lock (Also saves battery life.)

4)  Activate Android Device Manager (for android phones)

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Remember, neither Android Device Manager nor any other tracking tool will be able to locate the device if your device is simply not connected to internet or turned off by the thief.

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Smartphone security:

Why are there so many infected Computers and so few infected smartphones?

The answer lies in how you install software onto your device. Generally speaking, if you want to install an app onto your phone, you will need to go through some sort of app store – such as Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple iPhones. When a developer signs up to submit an app to one of these marketplaces, they generally have to give up their personal information. When they submit their app, the code gets reviewed by the company in charge of the store. Only after a series of checks can an app is published in the store for users to download. Now let’s compare this process to computer programs. Anybody can write a program right now and post it online. Anyone could download and run it against the wishes of their antivirus and that’s it. There’s no review of the code, no need for the developer to give up their personal information. While this makes developing software easier, it definitely makes for software that is much more insecure and troublesome. However, even though there is a pretty rigorous review process for apps, things can still get by the checks that the reviewers use. This has happened for every store and when it is discovered the app is generally removed right away. Another protection against malware in phones is that apps are kept separate from the main operating system. This makes it so the apps can’t gain access to the operating system to make changes throughout.  Where things get sticky is when users jailbreak, or root their devices. Once they gain access to the inner functioning of their device, they can install programs that have access to the operating system, and install apps whose code hasn’t been approved. While this action gives you full control of your device, and can give you some pretty awesome features that the manufacturer left out, it can expose your device to malware.

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Mobile virus:

A mobile virus is malicious software that targets mobile phones by causing the collapse of the system and loss or leakage of confidential information.

Is there really such a thing as an Android virus?

Historically carried over from the old PC world, a “virus” is a program that replicates itself by attaching to another program. Hackers often used this method to spread their nefarious work, and virus became a popular term to refer to all types of malicious software (malware) on computers. In the case of smartphones, to date we have not seen malware that replicate itself like a PC virus can, and specifically on Android this does not exist, so technically there are no Android viruses. However, there are many other types of Android malware. Most people think of any malicious software as a virus, even though it is technically inaccurate.

So what is Android malware?

Malware, short for malicious software, is software designed to secretly control a device, steal private information or money from the device’s owner. Malware has been used to steal passwords and account numbers from mobile phones, put false charges on user accounts and even track a user’s location and activity without their knowledge.

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The figure below shows how android malware is installed on the smartphone of end user:

On Android devices alone, malware and viruses rose by over 370% in 2011 and this trend continues. The more widespread smartphones get, the more attractive it will be for fraudsters. We see more and more fake apps sneaking up on the app stores, particularly on Google Play but also Apple’s App Store has been hit. Smartphone malware is more easily distributed through application stores that have minimal or no security mechanisms. Often malware is hidden in pirated versions of legitimate apps, which are then distributed through 3rd party app stores. Malware risk also comes from what’s known as an “update attack”, where a legitimate application is later changed to include a malware component, which users then install when they are notified that the app has been updated.

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The most common Android malicious apps will do at least one of the following:

•Collect and send GPS coordinates, contact lists, e-mail addresses etc. to third parties

•Send SMSs to premium-rate numbers

•Subscribe infected phones to premium services

•Record phone conversations and send them to attackers

•Take control over the infected phone

•Download other malware onto infected phones

•“Push notifications ads” delivering alerts to a phone’s notification bar – when the user swipes to pull down the notification bar from the top of the screen, an ad shows up under Notifications.

•“Icon ads” inserted onto a phone’s start screen – when the user touches the icon, it usually launches a search engine or a web service.

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There is growing Android malware epidemic, but iOS is far safer:

Apple’s stringent control over iOS has resulted in a far safer mobile platform for users. Currently malware and spyware have primarily targeted Android devices, though there are commercial spyware applications available for jailbroken iOS devices. The open nature of Android’s official Google Market, Amazon’s Appstore, and other alternative download sites has enabled malicious users to easily add malware to existing legitimate apps and then repost them for sale or free distribution. One example of this, known as DroidDream, has been added to at least 80 different Android titles. Android is the most popular operating system for smartphones, by far, and it’s also the most open, in terms of how much you can customize your device – replacing its default keyboard, for example – as well as the approval process for developers to release new apps for it. This openness is a boon for the tech-savvy Android user, because pretty much anything on their device that they don’t like can be swapped out for something better. They also tend to be pretty good at not installing apps that might play fast and loose with personal data. For them, Android doesn’t have a security problem. What about everyone else, though? Android’s status as the world’s most popular smartphone OS means it has hundreds of millions of users who aren’t so clued-in on security. They’re the reason so many developers of viruses, other malware and privacy-flouting apps are targeting Android. Cisco’s annual security report claimed that 99% of all malware in 2013 targeted Android devices. Android ticks all the boxes for cyber criminals – it’s a widely used OS that is easy to use for both app developers and malware authors alike.

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Android antivirus apps are useless:

If you pick up a free antivirus app from the Market, it is likely to miss nine out of ten potential threats. So is the answer to go with the paid apps? AV-Test also took a look at two paid anti-malware solutions for Android to answer that very question. The paid apps were able to scan and detect about half of all installed threats. That still leaves a huge number of malicious packages in the clear. The best way to stay safe on Android is to just stick to established apps from the official Android Market or the Amazon Appstore. While bad apps do occasionally show up in the Market, Google removes them swiftly and can remotely kill the apps on phones. Most of the truly dangerous threats have been detected on forums and third-party websites masquerading as well-known apps.

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Safety tips to protect your mobile device from malware:

1. Don’t open questionable emails or texts.

2. Don’t click on links unless you are certain of their source.

3. Do not allow your device to connect to unknown wireless networks.

4. Use the same precautions on your mobile phone as you would on your computer when using the Internet.

5. Turn off tethering, Wi-Fi™ and Bluetooth when not in use – These are the access points to your smartphone. If you don’t need to connect, keep them switched off and close the door to criminals.

6. Limit the amount of personal information on your phone – Any kind of personal information can be used to steal your identity and commit other kinds of fraud. By being careful about what you have stored on your smartphone you can reduce the risk if it gets compromised.

7. Never store passwords or PINs on your smartphone

8. Just stick to established apps from Google’s play store for android smartphones and Apple’s apps store for iPhones.

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How can you tell if your phone has been infected by malware?

1. Decreased battery life is a huge signal that should always raise a red flag. It won’t always mean an infection – it could be as simple as a buggy app that’s hogging a lot of CPU – but it should make you suspicious. Malware is always trying to collect information, always tapping into data streams, and always attempting to spread, and all of those processes make your phone work overtime.

2. Decreased performance. Malware tends to slow down your phone’s speed. You only have so much processing power. When malware is constantly running in the background, it leaves even fewer resources for the rest of your apps. In most cases, you should notice the performance hit.

3. Interrupted calls and apps. Malware is invasive and it often likes to interfere with running processes in order to snoop and pull information to which it might not normally have access. The result is that calls might unexpectedly drop (especially when malware tries to reroute them) and apps might unexpectedly crash. If these problems start occurring out of the blue, you may be infected.

There are some other yellow flags that could raise suspicions, but these are major warnings that you shouldn’t ignore.

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Spywares and cyberstalking:

Spyware is software you can use to track someone else by turning their smartphone, tablet or computer into a spy. Spyware companies offer their software as a service. It’s a pay-as-you-go subscription but it’s clearly enabling illegal activity. Detectives can give you a crash course on one popular brand called mSpy. It costs about $70 for a month or $200 for a year. Very cheap, considering what it can do.

Smartphones are used to Stalk and Control Domestic Abuse Victims:

They’re oozing data — from their phones, their tablets, their social media accounts — data that an abuser can access pretty easily. Smartphones and GPS have transformed domestic violence shelters across the U.S. NPR surveyed more than 70 shelters — not just in big coastal cities like New York and San Francisco, but also in smaller towns in the Midwest and the South. They found a trend: 85 percent of the shelters they surveyed say they’re working directly with victims whose abusers tracked them using GPS. Seventy-five percent say they’re working with victims whose abusers eavesdropped on their conversation remotely — using hidden mobile apps. And nearly half the shelters they surveyed have a policy against using Facebook on premises, because they are concerned a stalker can pinpoint location. Counselors in St. Paul, Minn., had to call the police when an abuser banged on the safe house doors; he had tracked down his wife using GPS. In Dallas, a woman inside a group therapy session thought her phone was off, but it turns out it was feeding data to her abuser. In Jamaica Plain, Mass., counselors had to help one victim debug her shoes after finding a GPS tracker embedded in them. A few shelters say abusers gave iPhones to their children as a gift, during the parents’ separation, in order to track down the mom. The strategy of offenders is to have complete and utter domination and control of their victims and so it’s not enough that they just monitor the victim. They will then taunt them or challenge them. Cyberstalking victims often don’t know they’re being tracked through their own phone because spyware apps like mSpy use misleading labels (labeled “android.sys.process” ) and don’t take up much data. They are cyberstalking — using digital tools that are a lot cheaper than hiring a private detective. NPR investigated these tools, also known as spyware, and spoke with domestic violence counselors and survivors around the country. They found that cyberstalking is now a standard part of domestic abuse in the U.S.

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Why smartphone encryption has law enforcement feathers ruffled:

There’s a downside to Android and iOS’s privacy-enhancing encryption—it’s going to be harder to catch criminals, police say. Facebook, Google, and Yahoo have all ramped up the encryption of computer traffic since revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden indicated that mass surveillance was rampant by governments. The two biggest smartphone operating system makers, Apple and Google’s Android, already include some elements of encryption by default. Third-party apps and encrypted Internet circuits like TOR are available too. But it’s that large-scale mobile device-maker encryption, like that found in iOS and now Android natively, because of their widespread adoption, that has pro-law-and-order officials peeved. FBI Director James B. Comey, in an October 2014 speech, said that he’s increasingly concerned about encryption. He reckons it adversely affects public safety and creates an environment which he and his FBI cohorts call “Going Dark.” He says that, through court orders, the FBI has the legal authority to intercept communications, “but we often lack the technical ability to do so.” One of the problems going after baddies is logistical. You’ve got to seamlessly monitor disparate devices, like phone and tablet, and multiple types of networks like mobile wireless, Wi-Fi, and so on. Encryption makes this monitoring even harder. So, Comey is opposed to Apple and Google’s default encryption implementation in their mobile operating systems. Google’s “L,” its latest version, which is rolling out to existing devices now, includes some encryption. Apple has had parts of its OS encrypted for some time. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. agrees with Comey, and cites kidnappers and sexual predators as targets that will be harder to catch.

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Determine your location using smartphone:

Determine your location without GPS:

A cell phone is basically a sophisticated two-way radio. Towers and base stations, arranged into a network of cells, send and receive radio signals. Cell phones contain low-power transmitters that let them communicate with the nearest tower. As you travel, you move from one cell to another, and the base stations monitor the strength of your phone’s signal. As you move toward the edge of one cell, your signal strength diminishes. At the same time, the base station in the cell you are approaching notices the strength of your signal increasing. As you move from cell to cell, the towers transfer your signal from one to the next. In remote locations, towers may be so far apart that they can’t provide a consistent signal. Even when towers are plentiful, mountains and tall buildings can interrupt their signals. Sometimes people have a hard time getting clear signals inside buildings, especially in elevators.

Even without a GPS receiver, your cell phone can provide information about your location. A computer can determine your location based on measurements of your signal, such as:

•Its angle of approach to the cell towers

•How long it takes the signal to travel to multiple towers

•The strength of your signal when it reaches the towers

Since obstacles like trees and buildings can affect how long it takes your signal to travel to a tower, this method is often less accurate than a GPS measurement.

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Determine your location using GPS:

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The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. The system provides critical capabilities to military, civil and commercial users around the world. It is maintained by the United States government and is freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver. The GPS system concept is based on time. The satellites carry atomic clocks which are synchronized and very stable; any drift from true time maintained on the ground is corrected daily. Likewise, the satellite locations are monitored precisely. User receivers have clocks as well. However, they are not synchronized with true time, and are less stable. GPS satellites transmit data continuously which contains their current time and position. A GPS receiver listens to multiple satellites and solves equations to determine the exact position of the receiver and its deviation from true time. GPS receivers come in a variety of formats, from standalone device to devices integrated into cars, smartphones, and watches. Like a cell phone, a GPS receiver relies on radio waves. But instead of using towers on the ground, it communicates with satellites that orbit the Earth. There are currently 27 GPS satellites in orbit — 24 are in active use and 3 act as a backup in case another satellite fails.

In order to determine your location, a GPS receiver has to determine:

•The locations of at least three satellites above you

•Where you are in relation to those satellites

The receiver then uses trilateration to determine your exact location. Basically, it draws a sphere around each of three satellites it can locate. These three spheres intersect in two points — one is in space, and one is on the ground. The point on the ground at which the three spheres intersect is your location. A GPS receiver has to have a clear line of sight to the satellite to operate, so dense tree cover and buildings can keep it from getting a fix on your location.

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GPS phones:

Imagine driving to a job interview and realizing that you’re lost. Your first impulse would probably be to call the business that’s interviewing you and ask for directions. But if you’re not sure where you are, getting directions can be tricky. But suppose you use your phone for another purpose — to figure out exactly where you are and to get turn-by-turn directions to where you’re going. New smartphones that include global positioning system (GPS) receivers can do exactly that. With the right software or service package, they can pinpoint your location, give directions to your destination and provide information about nearby businesses. Consumers have become increasingly reliant on GPS receivers and technology for navigation while driving around town or on long road trips.

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Wireless-Assisted GPS:

Some GPS phones use wireless-assisted GPS to determine the user’s location. In wireless-assisted systems, the phone uses the orbiting GPS satellites in conjunction with information about the cell phone’s signal. Sometimes called enhanced GPS, wireless-assisted GPS can often get a fix on the user’s location faster than a GPS-only receiver. Some wireless-assisted systems can work inside buildings, under dense foliage and in city areas where traditional receivers cannot receive signals.

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Do you need a mobile phone signal for GPS to work on smartphones?

No. There is some confusion in that, if a mobile signal is available to them, smartphones may use something called Assisted GPS to gain the approximate location from the phone signal. The mobile signal is then used to speed up the calculation of the position fix from the GPS satellites. The availability of a phone signal has no effect on the eventual accuracy of GPS readings once a device has fixed its position; the purpose is simply to get a fix faster when the GPS functionality is switched on. There are some cheap apps that do require an internet signal to show mapping, and so are not likely to work in wild areas. However, the better quality smartphone apps store any mapping legally on your phone so that it is always available.

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Smartphone as navigation device:

Most smartphones have full GPS capability onboard, so navigation is a natural use for that. All that is needed to get going is an app that handles the mapping and navigation. There are many options for all smartphone platforms, and my preferred app for navigation is available on both iOS and Android. If you have an android smartphone, it has free Google Maps navigation app installed. Using a smartphone as a navigation device is much easier if you mount the phone where it is easily visible without getting in the way of driving.

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How accurate are GPS devices?

The original generation of GPS devices gave an accuracy of around 15 meter, and often could not get a fix in narrow valleys or where there was forestry cover. More recent devices and smartphones tend to now use High Sensitivity GPS which is much more effective in forestry, and can be accurate to around 4 meter once the device has completed a fix. Occasionally GPS signals are jammed by the military.

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Smartphone Battery:

At a recent online security event, a Symantec senior product manager said that mobile analytics show a steep weekday decline in mobile Internet traffic throughout North America around 2 p.m. local time. The reason? That’s about the time when many smartphones start running low on battery charge. Compared to current generation non-smartphones, smartphone’s battery life has generally been poor which has become a significant drain on customer satisfaction. Although computer chips have doubled in speed every few years, and digital displays have become significantly brighter and sharper, battery technology is largely stuck in the 20th century. Device makers have relied on incremental improvements to battery power, now usually supplied by a decades-old lithium-ion concoction, in combination with more energy-efficient chips and screens. The problem, in part, is that it is hard to ensure the safety of many new power technologies. A faulty battery could potentially turn into a miniature bomb. So the products require exhaustive testing by regulators before hitting store shelves. Amid all the advances in smartphones, battery technology has lagged painfully behind — leaving users scrambling for AC outlets in awkward places like hotel lobbies, airport lounges and even public restrooms. But device makers, chip suppliers and third-party innovators hope to soon bridge the gap between the battery life consumers want and what devices can currently provide.

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Smartphone Battery Life has become a significant drain on Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty:

Satisfaction with smartphones is greatly impacted by battery performance, particularly the length of battery life before recharging is required. In addition, satisfaction with battery performance is by far the least satisfying aspect of smartphones, and satisfaction in this area is one of only a few attributes that have declined significantly. Satisfaction levels with battery performance differ widely between owners of 3G- and 4G-enabled smartphones. Among owners of 4G-enabled smartphones, battery performance ratings average 6.1 on a 10-point scale — considerably lower than satisfaction among owners of 3G smartphones (6.7). Part of this difference stems from the fact that new 4G smartphones use substantial battery life searching for next-generation network signals, which tend to be scarcer than 3G signals. In addition, owners of 4G-enabled smartphones use their device more extensively — they talk, text, email, and surf the Web more often than do customers with 3G smartphones or traditional handsets — which puts a significantly higher demand on the battery. Smartphone owners who are highly satisfied with their device’s battery life are more likely to repurchase the same brand of smartphone, compared with owners who are less satisfied. Approximately 25 percent of 4G-enabled smartphone owners are highly satisfied with their battery (ratings of 10 on a 10-point scale) and say they “definitely will” repurchase a device from the same manufacturer. In comparison, among owners who are less satisfied with their battery (ratings of 7-9 on a 10-point scale), only 13 percent say the same.

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Lithium-ion battery:

The figure below shows overview of lithium-ion battery charging and discharging:

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Battery energy:

mAh = milliampere hour = a measure of the energy charge a smartphone battery can hold:

Most smartphone batteries are in the range of 1500 mAh but high end devices can have battery capacity of 3000 to 4000 mAh.

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The correct unit for measuring energy capacity of a battery product is called watt-hours. Watt-hours signifies that a battery can supply an amount of watts for an hour. For example, a 60 watt-hour battery can power a 60 watt light bulb for an hour. The same battery would run a 5W phone for 12 hours and power a 1W LED light bulb for 60 hours. Watt-hours is a simple and consistent way to measure the capacity of any battery pack.

What is the difference between watt-hours (Wh) and amp-hours (Ah)?

The equation for power is

watts = amps x volts

And for energy the equation is

watt-hours = amp-hours x volts

Amps is only half of the equation.  Since different batteries may have different voltages, amp-hours is only useful for comparing products that have the same battery configuration.

To get a good grasp of the actual energy capacity, without access to the watt-hour rating of a pack, you can do a quick calculation to generate the watt-hours. First, find out the Ah rating of the battery pack (if it’s given in mAh, take that number and divide it by 1000 to get the Ah value). Second, find out the battery type or chemistry and then the typical voltage for that type.

Smartphones use a single 3.7V lithium-ion cell.

For example, the Switch 8 Solar Recharger is 3.6V and 2.2Ah (2200 mAh) By multiplying those two together you get 7.92Wh. Will the Switch 8 charge your iPhone? well, the iPhone 5 has a 1440 mAh (1.4Ah) battery at 3.7V for 5.18Wh — yes!

Remember, one watt = one joule/one second where joules being a unit of energy.

So watt-hour (wh) is a unit of energy akin to joule.

For your smartphone:

Wh = mAh × V / 1000

Wh = mAh x 3.7/ 1000

This is how you convert smartphone battery capacity from mAh to Wh.

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Laptops typically use 3 cells (3.7V per lithium-ion cell) in series (11.1V).

Typical laptop battery contains 45 to 90 Wh energy in it depending on number of cells.

Smartphone typically use single 3.7V lithium-ion cell.

Typical smartphone battery contains 5 to 13 Wh energy in it.

You can see that laptop battery is 7 to 9 times more powerful than smartphone battery.

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Our smartphones, tablets and laptops use lithium-ion batteries. These batteries will lose capacity over time. You can delay this process by taking the measures listed below but you can’t stop it entirely. Batteries are designed to retain up to 80 percent of their capacity for a limited number of charge cycles. This number will be slightly higher for bigger, more expensive batteries, typically found in tablets or laptops. For instance, Apple claims that the iPhone can hold 80 percent of its capacity for 500 charge cycles, while the number is 1,000 for iPad and MacBook models. The exact number will vary across devices but this is a fair benchmark.

What’s a charge cycle?

The battery completes one charge cycle when you charge it to 100 percent and drain it to 0. If you charge it to 50 percent and then drain it completely, you only complete half a charge cycle. The reality is a little more complicated than that, but it’s a good general rule of thumb. That means that you can’t avoid charge cycles by bringing your phone back to 100 percent whenever it hits 90 – ten such charges will count as a charge cycle.

Prolonging battery life:

You can’t change the laws of physics, but you can reduce the damage it receives on a day to day basis in the course of regular use. You just need to be aware of a few simple things like the temperature and the level of charge on your phone. Here’s a checklist you should keep in mind, to keep your batteries healthy for as long as possible.

1. Mind the temperature:

The temperature has a big impact on your device’s battery. If you live in places where the temperature is above 35 degrees Celsius or below 0 degrees Celsius, battery capacity is going to reduce faster. Try and keep the phone or tablet out of direct sunlight, or exposing it to below freezing temperatures, when possible. Extreme heat affects battery capacity a lot more than extreme cold, but both are harmful.

2. Partial discharge vs. Full discharge:

While you may have heard about letting your device getting fully discharged before plugging in the charger, generally speaking partial discharge cycles are better than full discharge cycles. Not all lithium-ion batteries show these symptoms, but keeping the charge in the 40 to 80 percent range is generally helpful. That means charge your phone when it reaches 40 percent charge, and stop charging it when the battery reaches 80 percent, though you’ll need to balance this – and all other advice – with practical usage. So when you are heading out and won’t be near a charger for a while, of course charge your device to 100 percent, instead of obsessing about numbers.

3. Don’t leave it plugged in all the time:

Leaving your devices plugged in at 100 percent is also harmful for battery life. Overcharging is not good for the battery: Li-ion cannot absorb overcharge, and when fully charged the charge current must be cut off. A continuous trickle charge would cause plating of metallic lithium, and this could compromise safety. While this advice may be easier to follow with smartphones, and especially tablets, it may not always be practical for laptops. If you are someone you leaves the laptop plugged in all the time, it’s going to harm your battery in the long term. It’s better to make sure that you’re discharging it down to 40 percent every once in a while. On the other hand, discharging the laptop as soon as the battery hits 100 percent will use up your charge cycles sooner, which is not ideal in the long run. The best option is to be practical. Discharge it occasionally, but don’t do it so religiously that your laptop is low on power when you are, say, stepping out for a meeting and might need that extra bit of juice.

4. Avoid using ultra-fast chargers:

Some devices can be charged faster using certain ultra-fast chargers, but that’s not good for your device’s health in the long term. An analogy can be made with an underpowered engine pulling a large vehicle; the stress is too large and the engine will not last.

5. Do not use knock-off chargers:

You can get a knockoff charger on the road for Rs. 50, and use it to charge a phone you paid more than Rs. 50,000 for, but there is a risk damaging your battery or, worse, actual injury. Apple even had a third party charger trade-in program to ensure that customers use original chargers.

6. Medium- to long-term storage:

If you’re not using your device for a while, then you should try to keep the battery at around 50 percent before turning it off. If you’re going for a long trip and want to leave your phone in storage, most manufacturers recommend that you should keep it in a cool place (the recommended temperature is under 32 degrees Celsius) and ideally, keep the battery at the halfway mark. Apple’s battery guide mentions that if you plan to store the device for longer than six months, you should charge it to 50 percent every six months. This is something you should do regardless of the brand of the device you are using. Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding the fact that batteries have a finite life, after which they will certainly degrade. Following these basic tips can help delay the inevitable.

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Researchers are zeroing in on three main aspects of smartphone battery technology: increasing power capacity, optimizing hardware and software, and faster charging. Different areas of the mobile industry have different ideas on which aspects deserve the most focus, but all agree that the goal is to give consumers more juice over longer periods.

Bigger Batteries:

Mobile batteries are getting bigger. Two years ago, capacity on many high-end smartphones was about 2500mAh. The Samsung Galaxy S4, which launched in 2013, has a 2,600mAh battery. Now, some smartphones are approaching or exceeding 4,000mAh capacity. China’s Lenovo announced its P90 smartphone, which features a 4,000mAh battery, at the 2015 International CES here Monday.

Quick Charging:

In 2014, some manufacturers implemented quick-charge features on their smartphones. Motorola, a subsidiary of Lenovo, launched its Nexus 6 smartphone with its branded Turbo charge feature, which can add up to six hours to a low battery in 15 minutes. Motorola’s Droid Turbo (featuring a 3,900mAh battery) can add up to eight hours of charge in 15 minutes. Lenovo’s P90 smartphone also has a quick-charge feature, which provides a 50 percent increase in charge in 30 minutes.

The Software Side:

Each new generation of smartphone includes some sort of battery optimization software to conserve power. Google implemented its Project Volta on its latest Android 5.0 Lollipop. Motorola smartphones such as the Droid Turbo and Moto X include software-based optimization features such as Active Display.  Active Display for messages allows users to drag the messages icon to open a message without turning on the entire screen, thus saving battery power.

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How to stop your battery going flat:

One of the biggest issues facing smartphone manufacturers is battery life. While software and computer chips get faster and more powerful, the technology in batteries lags far behind. As a result, batteries struggle to supply the power needed to run all the complex operations that smartphones require. Manufacturers claim that they are mindful of power usage, and try to design software that doesn’t require so much energy. However, as batteries lose 20 per cent of their power after a year, they are fighting a losing battle. The end result is that you, the user, find that your smartphone runs out of juice halfway through the day. However, there are plenty of ways in which you can make sure your smartphone doesn’t drain your battery.

1. Dim your smartphone’s screen:

The brighter your screen, the more battery power is used. Try to set your screen to a level that is visible, but not unnecessarily bright.  A screen’s brightness is one of the top contributors to draining battery life. There are several ways you can help to prevent this. Manually turn down the screen’s brightness, or alternatively, if your device has the option, turn on the automatic settings. This setting will detect the amount of light in the surrounding area and adjust the screens brightness accordingly.

2. Turn off Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi when not using:

Bluetooth is a system that enables devices to connect to each other wirelessly over short distances. Most of us never use it. Go to the Settings menu and turn it off. Apps continue to run in the background even after you have exited them, meaning they are still functioning and therefore using up your battery. Use your phone’s application manager to force apps to close completely.  Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi are standard functions on most phones and are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to eating battery life. Only turn Bluetooth on for as long as you need it, turn on GPS only when using to navigate, and if not actively looking to connect to Wi-Fi, change the setting to off to stop your device searching for networks.

3. Don’t leave your smartphone in the sun:

If you leave your handset in sunlight, the battery will drain faster. Keep it in a cool, well-ventilated place.

4. Switch off your notifications:

Today, most of us have smartphones that are constantly checking whether we have email, SMS or if a friend has tweeted something about us, or if another friend has done something funny on Facebook. Unless you can’t bear not to know these things instantly, go to your Settings menu and disable as many notifications as you can bear.

5. Don’t charge it at night:

Leaving your phone to charge after it reaches 100 per cent can degrade its battery’s life. So as soon as your phone hits maximum charge, unplug the charger. This means you can’t leave it to charge overnight.

6. Turn down the volume:

The louder your ring tone, the more energy your smartphone will use. Similarly, if your keyboard makes noises and vibrates when you type, turn them off via the Settings menu.

7. Use airplane mode:

If you are travelling and enter a known mobile deadspot, don’t let your smartphone use up loads of battery life as it seeks to find a signal or a strong data connection. Put your handset into ‘Airplane Mode’, which cuts it off from the outside world and will save lots of energy.

8. Keep your apps updated:

A smartphone will often say various apps need updating. As well as ironing out bugs, programs often have new features that save energy.

9. Stop apps in the background:

You’d be amazed at how many apps your smartphone likes to keep going — email, a web browser, a messaging app, Facebook, Twitter, a mapping app, a music player . . . quit as many apps as you can to save juice.

10. Turn it off:

I see no reason why a common man keeps smartphone on standby 24 hours. Do you really need your phone on all day?

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The hard truth: You’ll be lucky to get a day or two of smartphone runtime before needing to recharge:

Want to stretch battery life as far as possible? Start by dropping the screen brightness to around 50 percent. You’ll hardly notice the difference. Next, disable Bluetooth if you’re not using it, and think very hard about turning off push e-mail (automated mail retrieval at regular intervals, and a major power-suck). If you’re an Android user, turn off those cool but battery-draining animated wallpapers, then install an app like JuiceDefender . It’s free, and in my experience it works really well.

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Power bank:

A power bank is a portable charger for your devices and it is an absolute must-have product if you travel a lot. You need to be able to charge your devices if you want to fully utilize them on a single trip. Smart phones, tablets, etc., all require power after some time and a power outlet is usually not available everywhere you go. Buying and carrying spare batteries of every device is not a practical option either.  (Not to mention the extra expense over time.)  So you need to have a portable power bank of your own from which you can charge the batteries of your device(s). The better quality power banks will come with a set of connectors for different device types. So you don’t have to carry a separate cable along with the device.

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Power bank (portable charger):

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Power bank serve as an ‘extra battery’ or external charger for your phone or other electronic devices. Majority of the power banks in the market are actually made in China. You can charge your power bank via the charger that came with your phone, computer USB port or using other power bank. The higher the capacity of power bank, the longer charging time may required to fully charge it.

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A massive power bank to charge all your gadgets:

A 5,000mAh power bank can recharge your iPhone 5 battery a little over two times before it needs a trip to the power socket itself. Not bad, but compared to the Trontium Reactor, it’s a bit pathetic. This massive, $300 metallic cylinder uses a technology called USB Power Delivery, where the humble USB 3.0 connection is boosted to provide 100 watts of power to compatible devices. The 290 watt-hour power bank has three such ports on its shell, and can recharge an iPhone 50 times over before it needs a top up itself. It even has enough juice to recharge a MacBook Air five times. The Trontium Reactor is the first of its type, but we can expect other, similar products using USB Power Delivery to follow in the future.

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Breakthroughs in Batteries and Phone Charging:

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Ultra-rapid chargers make standby time irrelevant:

StoreDot gained plenty of attention when it released details about its clever, and very fast, charging system recently. How fast? A Galaxy S4 can go from zero percent to capacity in just 30 seconds, when powered by this impressive tech. Like you’d expect, it uses lots of complicated science to make this possible, and thus isn’t ready for mainstream release just yet. While the 30-second charge time grabbed the headlines, there’s an additional benefit. The charger and battery combination will take more charge/discharge cycles than current battery packs, prolonging its life and lessening the impact on the environment, our wallet, and our sanity. It’s possible StoreDot’s tech will be on sale sometime in 2016.

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Using one gadget to charge another:

Batteries require an energy source to recharge, so why not use another battery? External, portable battery packs are nothing new, but some companies are beginning to put big, fat cells inside other gadgets we actually use, ready to charge up a different device buried in our pockets. Asus started this trend in mobile with the PadFone, where the tablet section kept the phone’s battery topped up while docked. More recently, ZTE demonstrated the cool Projector Hotspot, which stuffs in a 5,000mAh battery which can recharge a connected device while it’s in use. Huawei’s Ascend Mate 2 has a feature called Reverse Charging, where the giant houses a 4,050mAh battery can give other, more feebly equipped hardware a boost in times of need.

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Using heat from our bodies to power our gadgets:

A recent development has pushed the idea of using heat from our bodies for power back into the limelight. Specifically, a research team in Korea has come up with a thermoelectric generator, which is so thin and light that it can be built into a piece of wearable electronics. It collects heat and turns it into energy, giving whatever gadget it’s attached to a never-ending stream of power.

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Cleverly optimized software:

Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 technology doesn’t extended the life of your battery, but it can make charging one a faster process. Built into its Snapdragon processors, and into specially made wall chargers, Quick Charge 2.0 promises to charge a smartphone battery 75 percent quicker than before. For example, a 3300mAh cell should take just 96 minutes to fully charge, compared to 270 minutes using a conventional charger. The downside is, both your phone and the charger need to have Quick Charge technology as standard, and there’s no backwards compatibility either.

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Smartphone screens with solar charging panels:

By adding a special layer of solar charging cells to a touchscreen, it is possible to add 15 percent to your battery just by showing it some light, either natural or artificial. Experts took a good look at the technology during CES 2014, and learned that in the future, the cells will get much stronger, and connecting a low-energy device to a charger may no longer even be necessary. Since then, the tech has made its debut in a luxury smartphone made by Tag Heuer, and more examples could follow over the coming year.

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Li-imide and silicon anode batteries:

The vast majority of modern battery powered devices, from smartphones to electric cars, are powered by Lithium-ion batteries. However, Li-ion cells are reaching their limits, and new types of batteries are waiting in the wings ready to take over. These most intriguing is the Lithium-imide cell, which can work with silicon anodes instead of the current graphite anodes. The benefits are considerable, including a drastic increase in capacity, more consistent performance, and an even longer lifespan. Silicon-anode batteries may start to be used in consumer electronics by the end of 2014.

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Battery innovation from MIT:

The current generation of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that we all know and love (or hate) in our smartphones can be traced back to 1991, when Sony began commercializing the first lithium-ion batteries. These batteries still rely on graphite-based anodes–the part of the battery where the positive electric charge flows. The problem is that the graphite anodes are very limited with how much power they can store. SolidEnergy, a startup spun out of research and academics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims it has built a lithium-ion battery with an ultra-thin metal anode that hikes up the energy density of the battery to 1,200 watts-hour per liter. That’s double the amount of graphite-based anodes in lithium batteries are able to hold–less than 600 Wh/L. SolidEnergy’s anode consists of a thin piece of lithium on copper that’s less than a fifth the size of a graphite anode. The startup also provides the electrolyte–which is the substance used to move charge back and forth between the cathode and the anode for storing energy—that can work at room temperature. Other metal anode batteries have to operate at high temperatures. The size cut means that the battery could potentially double the battery life of your smartphone–or shrink down the battery portion dramatically.

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True wireless charging from across the room:

People have dreamed of wireless charging for years. There are already products that let us technically charge without wires, but who wants to set their phone on a charging station or put a special charging case on their device? Researchers in South Korea have developed a new “Dipole Coil Resonant System (DCRS)” that can charge up to 40 smartphones from 5 meters away. It will be a good while before this technology makes its way into a mainstream product we can buy (or building plans), but imagine being able to walk into your house and set your phone anywhere, comfortable knowing that it will charge itself from power in the air. This kind of technology will do for charging what Wi-Fi has done for the Internet.

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Nanotechnology in battery:

A research team in Ireland may have a solution in the form of a new nanotechnology that, as Silicon Republic reports, “doubles the life of a smartphone, laptop and electric-vehicle batteries even after being charged and discharged more than 1,000 times.” If you charge and discharge your phone once a day, that’s three years’ worth of double battery life. In fact, more than that, since a lighter smartphone user could go at least a couple of days without charging. The new technology, based on a new germanium nanowire-based anode, was developed at the University of Limerick and designed to extend the charging power and lifetimes of lithium-ion batteries. The researchers didn’t offer a timetable for when the new battery technology will be available, but since they already seem to have overcome a major issue with material expansion, it could be in production within a couple of years.

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New type of glass could double your smartphone’s battery life:

Researchers have discovered a new type of glass material that may be used as an electrode in lithium-ion batteries to almost double a smartphone’s battery life.  A material discovered by ETH Zurich researchers led by Dr Semih Afyon and Reinhard Nesper may have the potential to double battery capacity.  Researchers are using the Vanadate-borate glass as a cathode material. To produce an efficient electrode, the researcher coated the vanadate-borate powder with reduced graphite oxide (RGO). This increases conductivity while at the same time protecting the electrode particles.  One battery with an RGO-coated vanadate-borate glass electrode exhibited an energy density of around 1000 watt-hours per kilogram.  It achieved a discharge capacity that far exceeded 300 mAh/g. Initially, this figure even reached 400 mAh/g, but dropped over the course of the charge/discharge cycles. This would be enough energy to power a mobile phone between 1.5 and two times longer than today’s lithium-ion batteries.  The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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Microsoft designs a lamp that could charge your smartphone:

Microsoft has designed a lamp that will detect your phone and charge it by shining a light onto its surface. Tests show the light from the lamp can replenish phones fitted with solar panels as rapidly as wired charging. Microsoft Research has built a working prototype but the charging system remains for now a proof-of-concept rather than anything that will appear in a commercially available product anytime soon. The AutoCharge system would work by using cameras to detect a phone on a desk or in a room and angling the lamp’s beam onto the smartphone’s surface. It is actually much safer than sunlight because 1) the light beam is cool light and thus causes less heat than sunlight; 2) a large part of the energy of the light beam is converted by the PV [photo-voltaic] panel into electricity and thus generates even less heat. The beam’s energy level was about 110 mW/cm2, which is only slightly higher than that of sunlight of air mass1.5 spectral irradiance. The key idea of the AutoCharge approach is identifying the opportunities of smartphone charging from a user’s existing action of putting a smartphone on a desk and automatically charging the smartphone without requiring explicit effort from the user.

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Smartphone without a battery:

New research focuses on making inexpensive, battery-free electronic devices. The key to most portable devices is the ability to send and receive signals, whether to make or accept cell phone calls, to receive television and radio signals, and to communicate with the Internet via Wi-Fi. Now researchers at the University of Washington say they can provide power too, cutting batteries from the equation. Their new technology, called Wi-Fi Backscatter, could be what will make the Internet of Things a reality. In 2013, the same group of researchers demonstrated a similar design, although without Wi-Fi, but the devices could communicate only with other devices equipped with the same technology. But with added Wi-Fi connectivity, the devices can link up with any other unit through Wi-Fi signals. Researchers have tried to collect power from radio signals for years. There’s enough energy available to run low-power circuits, but not enough to transmit signals. So researchers devised a way to have their devices communicate without actively transmitting. Instead, they send messages by recycling ambient radio waves rather than generating their own. Here’s how to make a smart phone call based on Wi-Fi Backscatter technology: The device toggles its antenna between modes that alternately absorb and reflect a signal from an accessible Wi-Fi router. The absorption cycle powers the phone from the Wi-Fi signal, while the reflective mode uses that power to send its own signal.

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My view on smartphone battery:

Battery life means two things.

1. The length of battery life before it ought to be recharged [daily battery life].

2. The length of battery life after which you ought to buy new battery [battery lifespan].

Battery completes one charge cycle when you charge it to 100 percent and drain it to 0. Batteries are designed to retain up to 80 percent of their capacity for a limited number of charge cycles (approximately 500 charge cycles). Therefore battery lifespan is approximately 500 charge cycles after which it needs to be replaced with new battery. In other words, an average smartphone battery would last 500 days provided your battery charge cycle is one day. However if you need to charge battery every 12 hours then your battery lifespan would be only 250 days. And if you use smartphone smartly, your battery charge cycle may be 2 days and therefore battery would last for 1000 days. In other words, shorter the battery charge cycle, lesser will be battery lifespan. Now what are the smart ways to increase battery charge cycle? Reduce screen brightness to minimum; avoid live wallpapers and turn off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and notifications unless essential.

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Comparison of smartphone with tablet and PC:

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Smartphone vs. tablet vs. net book vs. laptop:

Smartphone Tablet Net book Laptop
Screen size Usually about 3.5 inches 5-11 inches 10-12 inches 11-20 inches
Makes phone calls Yes Some models can No No
Internet access Yes Yes Yes Yes
Keyboard QWERTY keyboard QWERTY keyboard on the touchscreen Mini physical keyboard Full size physical keyboard
Storage space 2-64GB 16-64GB 80-320GB 250GB-1TB
Apps Yes Yes No No
CD / DVD drive No No No Yes

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Difference between Tablet and Smartphone:

Tablets and smartphones have a number of functions that overlap, but still each has its own set of distinct features that have given rise to the popularity of each device. Tablets and smartphones both run on an operating system. The two most popular operating systems today are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Tablets and smartphones both run on these systems. Apple’s range of smartphones and tablets include the iPhone and the iPad, respectively. However, there are a number of smartphones and tablets available from various manufacturers that run on Android. The major difference between smartphones and tables is their connectivity. All smartphone, nowadays, have Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. This means that they are able to connect to the internet through a Wi-Fi signal, and are able to use the 3G networks to call, send SMS, as well as, send and download data. However, most tablets only have Wi-Fi connectivity. Some tablets do come with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, but they tend to cost more. Tablets are somewhat of a cross between smartphones and laptops. They tend to have a bigger screen than smartphones and are mainly able to do everything that a smartphone can, except making calls and sending SMS. There are also some applications that only run in tablets and not in smartphones. Tablets are built to provide a rich multimedia experience and allow a user to have more computational capabilities. The screens of tablets measure between 7 – 10.5 inches. They look like a large smartphone but with additional capabilities. They also have a large internal memory. Tablets are mainly used for multimedia, watching videos, reading e-books, and surfing the internet. They feature a full virtual keyboard which is useful for online chatting, social networking and sending emails. Tablets also tend to have dual cameras, which can be used to take pictures, while the front facing camera can be used for video chatting and video calling. Basically, tablets are like a mini computer. They are able to perform most tasks that one uses a laptop for, such as surf the net, take pictures, chat with friends, send and receive emails, as well as use it as an e-Book reader. One can also use a tablet for basic computing functions, watching videos and listening to MP3 songs on the internet. Also, tablets are much more portable and lightweight than most laptops, notebooks or netbooks. The only downside to a table is that they can’t be used to make calls. Even on the ones with 3G connectivity, one has to use hands free technology, i.e. a Bluetooth headset, as a tablet is awkward to hold next to the face. Smartphone, on the other hand, fulfill their needs as a phone first. Their primary function is connectivity. They allow the user to make calls, as well as receive and send text messages. However, they also have additional capabilities, and tend to perform more like a personal digital assistant. This is mainly due to their independent operating systems that install and run advanced and complex applications. The advantage that smartphones have on tablets is their portability. Smartphones usually have a screen measuring between 3.5 – 4.3 inches. This suits the need of majority of people that carry their phones in their pockets. They also feature fast processors, large internal memory, user friendly operating systems and a full virtual QWERTY keyboard. Nowadays, most smartphones also act as a smart navigational device with features of GPS. Smartphones have the ability to store a large amount of information and media files. In addition, they are able to download and upload files at great speeds on the internet, either via 3G or Wi-Fi. They can be used to surf the net, take pictures, shoot videos, chat live with friends, social networking. They also have twin cameras for video chatting and video calling. Both smartphones and tablets are close to full computers. Due to the introduction of dual core processors and operating systems, they have the ability to do most of everything that desktops and laptops can. Their computing abilities are only restricted by a smaller display and their inability to play a CD or DVD. Smartphones and tablets have a number of similar features that tend to overlap. The major difference between smartphones and tablets is mainly that, smartphones are able to make calls, and are known for their portability. Tablets, on the other hand, are famous for their larger screens and easier web surfing, social networking and video watching capabilities.

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A smartphone is designed to be used in the hand and fit comfortably in your pocket. It’s always on you. This demands low weight, high durability, small size, long battery life, an interface that’s usable with a single thumb – the primary mode of interaction. A tablet is designed to sit on the table or lap, to be carried in a case (or backpack etc.)  Having it with you is optional.   This allows for it to be heavier, with bigger screen, shorter battery life, less durable, and more use of multi-touch in the interface. Tablet is portable while smartphone is pocketable.

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Can the smartphone replace the laptop?

Now, the smartphone might not be one’s first choice for spreadsheets and documents, but let’s face it, everybody has one (in business, anyway, all over the world), and those that have one will buy a new one sometime in the next two years as cellular contracts expire and products and wireless technologies continue their rapid evolution. The level of capability in contemporary smartphones is remarkable and continues to grow. Many people will be able to leave their laptop at the office and handle essentially all of their mobile computing and communications tasks with a pocket-sized device. Smartphones are as powerful as PCs from just a few years ago, with significantly better software, user interfaces, and flexibility. Smartphones won’t replace the laptop for typical business users, but over the next few years, many people –about 12% to 15% of business users — will be able to leave their laptop at the office and handle essentially all of their mobile computing and communications tasks with a pocket-sized device. As you might guess, size here is both an advantage and a challenge. Smartphones need to be as small as possible for mobility while still maximizing the size of the keyboard and the display. The keyboard on a smartphone, be it physical or screen-based, is obviously never going to get bigger than is acceptable for the two-thumb typing technique, although a surge in add-on Bluetooth and USB keyboards that can be quite effective for writing longer missives. The display is similarly constrained, although being able to connect (via wireless) to an external display with better resolution — the TV in one’s hotel room, for example — should become quite popular in the future. Networking, storage and processing aren’t really issues anymore, as tiny devices can have lots of each, and a connection to the Internet addresses any concerns here in the same fashion as for computer users everywhere. A much bigger issue is battery life. We have a culture surrounding the PC: From IT departments to enterprise users to just about every technology user on the planet, the PC is viewed as the mainstay of personal and corporate IT and thus a core requirement.  Mobile Internet devices might replace traditional PCs for some users but it is nevertheless very likely that we’ll still be having a PC and a smartphone for some time — well into the foreseeable future.  As Web services and cloud computing become the popular, if not dominant, model for enterprise IT, the number of people replacing their PC with smartphone will grow.

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Are Smartphones the PCs of the future?

Over the last five years, smartphones have proven that they’re immensely capable. Through the continuing miniaturization of tech and Moore’s law, smartphones are now almost as powerful as a desktop or laptop PC. In a few years, everything you do on your laptop today will be achievable on a smartphone. So why continue to use a laptop? The only real argument for a larger device, such as a laptop or tablet, is the interface. As it stands, the keyboard is still the best way of inputting data, and some activities simply can’t be performed on a 4-inch smartphone screen. This will change, though. In just the last few months, thanks to efforts made by Apple and Google, voice recognition has finally reached the stage where it can replace keyboard input. Muscle-computer interfaces, infrared keyboards, brain-computer interfaces — in the next few years, any of these could reach a maturity level that deprecates conventional keyboards. The display side of things is no different: Head-up displays (HUDs) like Google Glass, wireless contact lens displays, flexible OLED and e-ink displays, and bionic eyes all threaten to replace the 70-year-old tradition of a solid, immovable screen being the centerpiece of our interaction with multimedia. In the next few years, the reasons for keeping a laptop, desktop, or tablet, will grow very slim indeed.

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Let us compare hardware of smartphone to hardware of PC:

Smartphones enable a new, rich user experience in pervasive computing, but their hardware is still very limited in terms of computation, memory, and energy reserves, thus limiting potential applications.

Specifications of a few high-end smartphones:

Phone CPU (MHz) RAM (MB) Battery (talk time in hrs)
IPhone 3G 412 512 5
Android HTC G1 528 192 6
Blackberry Bold 624 128 4.5

Their network connectivities include Wi-Fi, UMTS, WCDMA, HSDPA, GSM/GPRS/EDGE, and Bluetooth 2.0.

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Specification of a commodity laptop and a desktop:

Computer CPU RAM
MacBook Pro Laptop 2.5GHz 2-core 4GB
Dell Precision T7400 3.3GHz 4-core 8GB

Their connectivities include 1Gbps Ethernet and Wi-Fi, and they are frequently powered from the electric grid.

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At the time above products were released, smartphones were not powerful enough to deliver a serious PC experience, but since then, two key technologies have emerged that could make this vision a reality relatively soon. The first key technology is based on the new mobile quad-core CPUs in almost all new smartphones coming from Qualcomm, Nvidia, and Intel. Although they are low-voltage processors, most of them have processors that clock in at 1.5GHz and up to 1.8GHz, which give them PC-class computing power. Sure, they are not as powerful as CPUs with much higher processing speeds, but they all have graphics cores built in and do a pretty good job of delivering PC functionality on a smartphone. The second technology is called Mobile High-Definition Link, or MHL, which is a mobile audio/video interface standard for connecting portable electronics devices to high-definition displays. This is an important technology that is supported by dozens of industry companies and is already deployed in more than 100 million smartphones. Silicon Image is the major company backing MHL chips that go into televisions, home theater systems, and all types of mobile devices. In fact, at least two of these types of products are already in the works. Korean Telecom announced its Spider Laptop shell that can connect to an Android smartphone. It uses an MHL cable for the connections that currently drives the laptop shell. At the moment, it uses its own Android phone for the connection, but it has plans to support other Android phones over time.  Samsung is also working on something like this, using the Spider Laptop reference design and tying it to its Galaxy S III smartphone. Both versions use an MHL cable from the smartphone to the Spider Laptop to power it but they could just as easily create some kind of MHL dock or even build a dock into the Spider Laptop. MHL is a powerful connection medium that could help deliver a true laptop experience via a smartphone or tablet. Together with quadcore chips, it could have major ramifications for the industry as a whole. Keep in mind that the smartphone has all of your personal data, personal UI, and personal apps; all you would need is to have this laptop shell, or a desktop monitor connected to an MHL docking stand to mirror all that is on the smartphone. While stand-alone laptops powered by their own CPUs and GPUs won’t go away, a new computing paradigm could emerge in which the smartphone actually becomes the center of our personal computing universe.

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Why your smartphone won’t be your next PC:

Yet performance does matter. For evidence, look no further than netbooks, a revolution lauded by pundits that died as soon as consumers realized the tiny computers were terribly slow. For the first time in years, consumers could hobble their PC with just a few browser tabs or by opening a YouTube video. Who wants to return to that? The processors found in smartphones are slower still, and far behind the best from AMD and Intel. An apples-to-apples performance comparison between an ARM smartphone processor and an Intel x86 processor doesn’t exist, but generally speaking, a standard-voltage Intel Core i5 laptop processor is about eight times faster, and that’s a conservative estimate. Current mobile hardware doesn’t stand a chance, and more importantly, it’s nowhere near as quick enough to provide a satisfactory PC experience. Of course, processor performance has historically increased at a rapid pace. This leads many to conclude that, while smartphones are not currently quick enough to serve as a PC replacement, they will be shortly. The new ARM Cortex A15 core has already proven itself capable in the Samsung Chromebook; why can’t the same happen with phones? The answer is power consumption. Samsung’s ARM-powered Chromebook proved itself more capable than the older Intel Atom in benchmarks, but it uses 4 watts at idle and up to 11 watts at load. That’s not much by laptop standards, but for a smartphone, it’s staggering. Smartphones measure idle consumption by milliwatts and never draw more than three watts at load. Such low power draw is necessary to provide reasonable battery life, and even so, high-end phones suck down their battery with surprising speed. During recent review of the Galaxy S4, for example, it managed no better than eleven hours on a charge.

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How are Smartphone and PC Internet users different?

An analysis conducted in July 2012 by GfK Group examined US consumers’ web activity on a smartphone vs. on a PC. The research found that in a number of categories, consumers on the two kinds of devices behaved quite similarly. Both PC and smartphone internet users spent a little under one-fifth of their internet time on email, and both allocated roughly a 10% share of time each to gaming and search. The most striking difference GfK found was that PC internet users were considerably less social than their smartphone counterparts. PC internet users spent a sizeable 18% of their internet time on social media activities, but on smartphones, social media truly dominated, accounting for a 31% share of internet time—nearly twice as much as the amount of time spent on email, the next most popular smartphone web activity. Clearly, social media is a prime reason smartphone users access the internet via mobile.

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For your personal use; how do you select a smartphone and what do you look for in it?

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Is smartphone synonymous with android?

Android and smartphones are two words have become synonymous when purchasing cell phones or any new phone. For many people, android could be just another name for a smartphone. However, this is wrong. These two words through related are quite different from each other. Android is actually an operating system that powers Google and other smartphones, while smartphone is any type of phone that allows advanced computing capability. Android is one of the major players in smartphones and has been powering many popular phones such as Samsung Galaxy series, Sony Xperia series, HTC series, and many more.

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Is smartphone synonymous with iPhone?

The iPhone is just a smart phone made by Apple. Apple produces the hardware and operating system of the phone. This gives them complete control. They have their own app store where applications are vetted before being allowed on. iPhone is the flagship phone developed and manufactured solely by Apple. The device operates on Apple’s iOS operating system and is currently in its 6th generation. The first generation or the original iPhone was announced by the company in June 2007. The iPhone became an instant success with many techies as it was technologically advanced as well as aesthetically appealing. The idea of a multi-touch screen that allowed users to directly input data on to the screen, thus eliminating the need for mouse, keyboard or keys, was conceived by then Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. He revolutionized the phone. Another new feature that was introduced by the phone was the Apple Store, an online application distribution platform that allows users to directly purchase and download applications on to the phone. The iPhones have been praised for their looks, design, performance and their tight security; however, they lack customization ability, they are strict in terms of guidelines, they are quite expensive and even if damaged, repair is quite costly. All iPhones are smartphones but all smartphones are not iPhones. Apple can be considered as one of the reasons that have boosted the popularity of smartphones in today’s society. Apple’s iPhones have started new trends and set many standards in the smartphone world.

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Is blackberry a smartphone?

Yes. All recent blackberry devices are smart phones. A smartphone is a device that combines a PDA with a phone. Most recent smartphones include other features like camera, video recorder, mp3 player, GPS, web browser, email, social network applications (Twitter, Facebook, etc)

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Comparison of prominent high-end smartphones:

Model CPU Storage capacity Removable storage RAM OS UI Size Weight Display Keyboard Camera Other GPU
Xiaomi Mi3 2.3 GHz quad-core 16 GB no external memory slot 2 GB DDR3 Android 4.4 MIUI v 5.0 144 x 73.6 x 8.1 mm 145gm 5″ 1920×1080 QWERTY 13 MP (rear camera), 2 MP (front camera) GPS glonass, F2.2 aperture camera lens, dual LED flash, NFC, Gyroscope, Barometer, Krait 400 architecture Adreno 330
iPhone 6 1.4 GHz dual-core Apple A8 16 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB no external memory slot 1 GB LPDDR3 RAM iOS 8, upgradeable to iOS 8.1.2 138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm 129gm 4.7″ 1334×750 Soft QWERTY 8 MP (rear camera)(supporting up to 240fps slo-mo video recording), 1.2 MP (front camera) Wi-Fi :802.11 (2.4/5 GHz), Barometer, Pedometer, Lightning Reversible connector, Touch ID Fingerprint sensor, Apple Pay NFC, M8 Motion Coprocessor PowerVR Series 6 GX6450
iPhone 6 Plus 1.4 GHz dual-core Apple A8 16 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB no external memory slot 1 GB LPDDR3 RAM iOS 8, upgradeable to iOS 8.1.2 158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm 172gm 5.5″ 1920×1080 Soft QWERTY 8 MP (rear camera) (with Optical Image Stabilization, supporting up to 240fps slo-mo video recording), 1.2 MP (front camera) Wi-Fi :802.11  (2.4/5 GHz), Barometer, Pedometer, Lightning reversible connector, Touch ID Fingerprint sensor, Apple Pay NFC, M8 Motion Coprocessor PowerVR Series 6 GX6450
Samsung Galaxy S5 1.9 GHz quad-core Cortex-A15 and 1.3 GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 16 GB, 32 GB microSD up to 128 GB 2 GB LPDDR3 RAM Android Android KitKat 4.4.2 upgradeable 5.0 Lollipop 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm 145gm 5.1″ 1920 x 1080, 432 ppi Soft QWERTY 16 MP with 4K(2160p) video recording (rear camera) 2.1 MP (front camera) Water Resistant, Micro USB 3.0, Wi-Fi :802.11 (2.4/5 GHz), Private Mode, Heart Rate Sensor ARM Mali T628MP6 or Adreno 330
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 1.9 GHz quad-core Cortex-A15 and 1.3 GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 32 GB microSD up to 128 GB 3 GB LPDDR3 RAM Android Android KitKat4.4.4 upgradeable 5.0 Lollipop 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm 176gm 5.7″ 2560 x 1440, 515 ppi Soft QWERTY 16 MP, Optical Image Stabilization, with 4K(2160p) video recording (rear camera) 3.7 MP (front camera), wide selfie mode Wi-Fi :802.11 (2.4/5 GHz), Private Mode, Heart Rate Sensor, Blood Oxygen Monitor ARM Mali T760 or Adreno 420
Sony Xperia Z3 Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8974AC 801 @ 2.5GHz 16 GB (32 GB for D6616, D6708/Z3v, SO-01G, SOL26 and 401SO variants) microSD up to 128 GB 3 GB LPDDR3 RAM Android Android KitKat 4.4.4, Android Lollipop upgrade planned 146 x 72 x 7.3  mm 152gm 5.15″ BRAVIA IPS (1080 x 1920, 424 ppi) Soft QWERTY 20.7 MP back-side illuminated sensor with pulsed LED flash (with digital stabilisation), 4K video Wi-Fi :802.11 (2.4/5 GHz), Bluetooth LE 4.1, Near Field Communication Adreno 330
Karbonn Titanium Hexa 1.3 GHz Hexa-core Cortex-A7 16 GB microSD up to 32 GB 2 GB LPDDR3 RAM Android Android KitKat 4.4.4 upgradeable 5.0 Lollipop 5.5inch x 68.6mm x 7.9mm 146gm 5.5″ LTPS1920 x 1080, 436 ppi Soft QWERTY 16 MP, Optical Image Stabilization, with 4K video recording (rear camera) 5MP MP (front camera), wide selfie mode

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Mid-range and High-end Phones:

Techies throw these terms around like a rag doll. But, they are two distinctive classes of devices. Just like luxury cars are fraught with power and all sorts of goodies, high-end devices have the latest specs and features.  At the high end, screens got bigger, you’ve got a phenomenal amount of compute power with you now. What’s to say that in the not-too-distant future, instead of carrying two devices or three devices around, the mobile device is the thing that you carry with you. You walk in the office, you put it down, it docks with your big screen and your keyboard, and off you go. In contrast, mid-range devices can be compared to basic domestic cars – they have enough power and features for you to do the essentials – drive to work, visit friends and go to your favorite places. In a similar way, mid-range phones have enough power to not be sluggish and to provide a satisfying (sometimes fascinating) experience. Of course, from reading what’s above, you should have already assumed what a low-end device is.

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2013 Flagship Phone Specs:

•2 – 3 GB RAM

•Quad Core Snapdragon 600 or 800 Processor

•1920×1080 (1080p) HD Display

•8+ Megapixel Camera

•Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean or higher (iOS 7 for Apple devices)

High-end Device – Key Features:

•Packed with power and features

•Provides outstanding experience

•Ideal for power users

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2013 Mid-range Phone Specs:

•1-2 GB RAM

•Dual Core Snap S4 Pro Processor

•1280×720 (720p) HD Display

•8+ megapixel camera

•Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher

Mid-range Device – Key Features:

•Good for saving money (retail price is often $200 or less than high-end phones)

•Provides a satisfactory experience (Not sluggish)

•Has enough features and power to do your essential tasks

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You’ve got an emerging trend of low-cost smartphones. There are literally billions of people who can now get access to them who couldn’t have afforded them previously. There’s an opportunity to create new products and improve people’s basic, fundamental way of life through having this supercomputer in your pocket the whole time. If you get that to a price point of $20, $30, then I think that opens up a new wave of innovation again. We’re seeing people building low-cost medical devices for use in the Third World — devices that use the phone for connectivity and for the screen. That will really be impactful in terms of society. So there’s a whole lot of innovation that’s going to go on at that end.

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The cheapest smartphone in the world:

Microsoft, Samsung and other smartphone makers have been racing to make smartphones more affordable for people in developing nations. As smartphone sales begin to cool off in western countries, cell phone companies have looked to fast-growing emerging regions for growth. Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) is launching the Nokia 215 for just $29. The technology company calls the 215 the “most affordable Internet-ready phone.” The Nokia 215 smartphone has Internet connectivity and a camera. Despite its price, the Nokia 215 gets users online via the Opera Mini browser, Bing search, MSN Weather, Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) and Facebook (FB, Tech30). The phone also comes with Facebook’s Messenger service for instant notifications. The battery lasts 29 days on standby — an absolute must for some customers around the world who have infrequent access to electricity.

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What to do with old used smartphone?

Smart Things you can do with Your Old Smartphone:

Wi-Fi router:

Usually all smart phones have the technology to convert into a hotspot. The data that we use on the phone, once turned into a hotspot can be as good as a Wi-Fi router. If you have an old SIM, opt for an unlimited data plan and use it in the old phone to get yourself a portable Wi-Fi router.

Music station:

Your old 8GB smartphone is a great gadget to store music. You connect phone with plasma TV and play your favourite songs. It is also a great option when you want to listen to music while travelling without having to worry about the battery life.

GPS device:

With unlimited data plan you can use this phone for your GPS and maps. If you regularly travel to various unknown destinations, your old smartphone can be a great help. Also if you have a different phone for GPS usage you can rest assured that your current internet plan never goes off limit.

E-Reading:

If you are an avid reader, your old phone can be a great e-book reader. There are many e-books available online for free that you can store on your phone. If your old smartphone has OLED display, you can switch to night mode and enjoy reading without worrying about the battery life.

Data storage:

You can use old smartphone as a data storage device too. It can store thousands photos along with few of movies.

Portable game station:

An old smartphone is the perfect gaming device without worrying about battery life.

Digital clock:

Your old phone can turn into a smart digital clock for your desk. Download a digital clock app from the app store or play store. Go to settings>display>sleep>Never. This will let the screen be on and show the cool digital clock at all the time.

Data transfer:

You can store data in old phone. With an USB cable you can easily transfer GBs of data and keep it all handy.

Personal digital Frame:

Your old smartphone can be the perfect digital frame. Save your favourite photos in an album in your phone and view them as a slideshow. Go to settings>display>sleep>Never. Change your sleep mode from seconds to never which will enable your screen to be on and highlight the pictures all day long.

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Utility and benefits of smartphone:

Not only do smartphones connect people, with myriad of application can receive immediate information about local and global events by bringing news, stock and weather updates which will help the person to be up-to-date. Research has shown that young people feel that it is easier today than five years ago to keep up with information and the world that they live in. Smartphones can also serve live TV by the help of applications such as netTV that offer a selection of programs from around the world. In addition, there are different game applications on smartphones that are so diverse that the user will never run out of choices. Some of the game categories that smartphones offer from the simplest to the most complicated ones are action, puzzle, casual, gambling, sports and racing which help people for amusement. Smartphones can also be used to store music, books, photos and video clips and also play music, view and open documents which helps people to have access to their files whenever and wherever. 48% of adults that own smartphones listen to music using their smartphones. Smartphones have the same advantages as computers, making smartphones more preferable and influential due to their size and efficiency. The efficiency of smartphones is related with the use of the applications they offer. There are a number of applications that assist people to a particular lifestyle or a particular human activity. These applications assist people with health and fitness. There are applications that support while training, exercising or practicing a sport. As a matter of fact, there are applications that can do one’s shopping and help in travelling by booking and checking flight.

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Not only can we talk to one another on our smartphones, but we can text, play music or a game, get directions, take pictures, check e-mail, find a great restaurant, surf the Internet, watch a movie. Unlike traditional cell phones, smartphones, with their big old memories, allow individual users like you and me to install, configure and run applications, or apps, of our choosing. A smartphone offers the ability to configure the device to your particular way of doing things. The software in the old-style flip phones offers only limited choices for reconfiguration, forcing you to adapt to the way they are set up. On a standard phone, whether or not you like the built-in calendar application, you’re stuck with it except for a few minor tweaks. But if that phone were a smartphone, you could install any compatible calendar application you liked.

Here’s a list of some of the additional capabilities smartphones have, from intuitive to perhaps less so:

•Manage your personal info including notes, calendar and to-do lists

•Communicate with laptop or desktop computers

•Sync data with applications like Microsoft Outlook and Apple’s iCal calendar programs

•Host applications such as word processing programs or video games

•Scan a receipt

•Cash a cheque

•Replace your wallet. A smartphone can store credit card information and discount or membership card info

•Pay bills by downloading apps such as PayPal and CardStar

•Allow you to create a Wi-Fi network that multiple devices can use simultaneously. That means you can access the Internet from your iPad or laptop without a router or another peripheral device.

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Smartphone utility in approximate order of popularity:

1. Phone calls

2. Texting

3. Calendar

4. Playing music

5. Bluetoothing ringtones and music to friends

6. Taking videos and photos

7. Playing games

8. Browsing news and travel web sites

9. Checking email

10. Instant messaging and social (networking) applications

11. Mapping and navigation

12. Playing back FM Radio and Podcasts for spoken word entertainment while doing chores

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The benefits of smart phones:

Smart phones have become very popular in recent years. Really this should come as no surprise given how useful they are. There are a lot of benefits to having a smart phone, far more than most people realize. The truth is that few people actually get the full benefit out of their smart phone and use it primarily as a regular phone with a few extra features, there are so many other things that a smart phone can do. The biggest benefit of smart phones is that you are never out of touch. There are so many different ways that you can communicate with smart phone that people will always be able to reach. In addition to phone calls and text messaging you can communicate through email, instant messaging and chat. Not only do you have more ways to communicate but you can do it much more quickly and you can transfer much larger volumes of data than you could with a regular cell phone. This makes it much easier to do your work with your smart phone. A smart phone also allows you access to thousands of apps, this greatly increases the number of things that you can do with your phone. A smart phone is really just a portable computer and the operating system that runs most computer programs. That means that apps can be created that can do any number of things. Since the apps can be developed by third parties you do not have to rely on the phone maker to determine what the phone will be capable of doing. You can upgrade the functionality of your phone by downloading a new app. One of the reasons that a lot of people really like smart phones is all of the multimedia features. You can use your smart phone to watch movies or television or you can use it to play games. It can also be used to listen to music or read ebooks. Most people are finding that this is what they use their smart phones for the most frequently. They can watch a movie while they are on the bus for example. The portability of such a powerful multimedia platform has proved to be very popular. A lot of people are finding that a smart phone can act as portable office for them. They can make phone calls and send emails. They can also download documents or create new ones if they need to. There is also a daily planner that they can use to stay organized. Many people are finding that with a smart phone they don’t have to be in the office to do their work. This is especially beneficial for business people who have to do a great deal of travelling. All that time spent at airports can now be used productively allowing them to accomplish a lot more.

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Cortical sensory processing shaped by Smartphone: A study:

When people spend time interacting with their smartphones via touchscreen, it actually changes the way their thumbs and brains work together, according to a new report. More touchscreen use in the recent past translates directly into greater brain activity when the thumbs and other fingertips are touched, the study shows. While neuroscientists have long studied brain plasticity in expert groups–musicians or video gamers, for instance–smartphones present an opportunity to understand how regular life shapes the brains of regular people. It all started when Ghosh and his colleagues realized that newfound obsession with smartphones could be a grand opportunity to explore the everyday plasticity of the human brain. Not only are people suddenly using their fingertips, and especially their thumbs, in a new way, but many of us are also doing it an awful lot, day after day. Not only that, but our phones are also keeping track of our digital histories to provide a readymade source of data on those behaviors. The results suggest to the researchers that repetitive movements over the smooth touchscreen surface reshape sensory processing from the hand, with daily updates in the brain’s representation of the fingertips. And that leads to a pretty remarkable idea: Researchers propose that cortical sensory processing in the contemporary brain is continuously shaped by personal digital technology. What exactly this influence of digital technology means for us in other areas of our lives is a question for another day. The news might not be so good, Ghosh and colleagues say, noting evidence linking excessive phone use with motor dysfunctions and pain.

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Mobile social media:

Most of us are well versed in the desktop versions of social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. But without a smartphone, you are missing out on 50% of the fun. A smartphone allows you to upload photos, videos, and statuses regardless of location, while larger, better-quality screens make the experience that much more enjoyable. You can also join the growing group of people that “check in” at physical locations and events.

Facebook phone:

A long-rumored smartphone project from Facebook that officially debuted in April 2013 not as a stand-alone mobile device but instead as a collection of Facebook apps for use on Android-powered smartphones. While still referred to by some pundits as Facebook Phone, Facebook’s official moniker for the service is Facebook Home. Facebook Phone brings the social network’s most popular features to the front and center of an Android user’s smartphone, providing a stream of Facebook posts, photos and links on the phone’s home screen or lock screen. While Facebook is rumored to be working with Apple to create a version of Facebook Home for the iPhone, most believe that Facebook doesn’t have any plans to create its own Facebook Phone mobile device.

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Smartphone and communication:

Technology sees great changes every day. This is merely to meet the demands of humans who look forward to make things much advanced to make their lifestyle simple and updated. In today’s contemporary society, you can witness the role of smartphones in establishing communication channels across seas and borders. It has significantly transformed the mode of communication and has made it much effective at people’s convenience. Rather than just saying smartphones are sophisticated means of communication it can be considered more as a tool for social presence and better exposure. Smartphones are special and popular for the applications they support. People feel that they are better positioned to interact with people who are linked to different Social Medias. People prefer smartphones mainly due to the advantages they get through media platforms. Social Medias show you a unique avenue to execute things at the right time. Smartphones and social media have been key factors in offering:

•Better way to communicate with people

•Opportunity to learn new things

•Ease of using several applications

•Getting exposed on a global scale

•Social responsibility and personality development

•Business development

•Learning and career growth

Getting connected to social Medias helps people improve them in all aspects. It provides a new avenue to interact with people and also paves way to get better ideas. You drift away the complex in you and develop a positive attitude to develop personally to favor social growth. It builds up a strong bond in your professional life helping you to grow higher in quick time. Any advancement integrates in it positive and negative impacts. However it is in people’s hands to take the best for them. Smartphones are without any doubts excellent means of communication. It is also important to change a society that runs only with less manual interaction and prefers smartphone usage completely. It is good to make best use of the smartphones rather than becoming too much succumbed to the development and usage of smartphones and its applications.

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Email on the go:

Many of our conversations still take place through email, but people with a basic phone leave those conversations behind the second they walk out the door. A smartphone allows you to send and receive email from multiple accounts wherever you are. You’ll find the real value in this when, for example, your friends need to discuss afternoon meet-up locations and you’ve been out running errands since breakfast.

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Swipe credit cards:

Friend owes you $20 bucks? Not having cash is no longer a viable excuse for not paying up. An explosion of mobile payment apps (coupled with free hardware) now allow almost anyone to swipe credit cards using their smartphone. And transaction costs are usually cheaper than the average fee at the register. Anyone with something to sell (DIY crafters, service contractors, artists, etc.) can now accept payments anytime, anywhere.

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Accept Credit Cards:

Purchasing a credit card processor can be expensive and inhibit your movements. Applications are now available that allow you to accept credit card payments with the use of a small gadget that plugs into your phone. In addition to these, your Smartphone can hold information on all the things in your wallet, and can act as a universal remote control or even a car remote.

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Mobile Hotspot:

Many Smartphones have the ability to create a Wi-Fi network that can support a number of devices (computers, tablets, or phones) at the same time. While there is an additional fee for this service, the convenience of not having to look for a business that offers Wi-Fi service is certainly worth it for many people. No need to download an app for this service; it is built into the phone or device.

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Second screen:

A second screen refers to the use of a computing device (commonly a mobile device, such as a tablet or smartphone) to provide an enhanced viewing experience for content on another device, such as a television. In particular, the term commonly refers to the use of such devices to provide interactive features during “linear” content, such as a television program, served within a special app or real-time video highlights on social networking apps such as Facebook and Twitter. The use of a second screen supports social television.

Applications:

Many applications in the “second screen” are designed to give another form of interactivity to the user and another way to sell advertising content.

Some examples include:

•Transmission of the Masters Golf Tournament, application for the iPhone (rating information and publicity)

•TV programs broadcast live tweets and comment

•Synchronization of audiovisual content via web advertising

•Applications that extend the content information

•Shows that add on their websites, content devoted exclusively to the second screen

•Applications that synchronize the content being viewed to the portable device

•Video game console playing with extra data, such as a map or strategy data, that synchronize with the content being viewed to the portable device

•TV discovery application with recommendation, EPG (live content), personalization.

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Print and scan using smartphone:

Print from a Smartphone:

Given the wide range of applications that smartphones can run, you may find yourself needing to print from them. Whether you need to print out a document for work or just want to make a copy of a snapshot that you can put in a frame, printing from your smartphone is a desirable feature. Depending on your printer and your smartphone, you can probably find a way to print directly without needing an intervening computer.

Portable Printers:

Some small, portable printers are optimized to print from smartphones. While some of these devices are designed only to print small photographs, others are smaller versions of regular printers and can print pages. They may connect to your smartphone with a USB cable or, in many cases, they can connect to your smartphone over Bluetooth.

Wi-Fi Printers:

Wi-Fi capable printers frequently have smartphone applications that accompany them. As long as your smartphone is on the same wireless network, you can send what you want to print directly to the printer. The applications for these printers frequently have limited functionality though, and may only print certain files or print from certain applications.

AirPrint:

If you have an iOS smartphone or tablet, you can take advantage of Apple’s AirPrint functionality. AirPrint printers have wireless connections like regular wireless printers, but add the ability to directly print from any AirPrint compatible application.

Printing Services:

Your smartphone can also print through Internet- and kiosk-based printing services. These services frequently have applications that sit on your phone and serve as a go between, taking data from your smartphone and delivering it to a nearby printer. Some of these services are free of charge, while others connect you to printers that charge on a per-page basis.

Setting up Google Cloud Print on Chrome:

Google Cloud Print uses a background app on Android phones to forward printing requests to a proxy computer via the Google Chrome browser. Devices running Android 2.1 and later support Cloud Print. Setting it up requires configuring both the computer and phone. To configure the computer, launch Chrome, open the “Menu” button, choose “Settings,” select “Show Advanced Settings,” then click “Add printers.” Log in to the same Google Account that the phone uses and click “Add Printers” to complete the process.

Using Google Cloud Print for Android:

Install the Google Cloud Print app from the Google Play Store on the phone. After installing Cloud Print, open the Settings app and select the “Printing” option. Tap “Cloud Print” and move the toggle switch to the “On” position. You can print from your apps once Cloud Print is enabled: For example, the Chrome and Gmail apps support printing. You can print in Chrome by opening the Settings menu and selecting “Print.”

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Scan With a Smartphone:

Scanning receipts, business cards, checks for deposit, and barcodes for a price check reduces the mountains of paper you have to contend with. There are hordes of apps for scanning that allow you to scan and store or sync any type of document. Using one of a few possible smartphone apps, you can convert pictures you take of documents on your smartphone directly to a PDF. This way, you do not have to search for a scanner if you need to put a physical signature on a document before sending it back to someone. Some of the apps are free for a trial period; some are free if you are willing to tolerate watermarks on the document or advertisements on the app screen when you’re using it. CamScanner, DocSanner and Google Drive have versions for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. There are many other alternative apps, which may work only on one of those platforms, but will produce similar results. If the other options are not suitable for you, you can simply take a picture of your document and then transfer that picture to your computer. Once the picture is on your computer, open either Microsoft Word or Apple Pages and insert your picture into a document. The Print menu on either program will then allow you to save your file as a PDF.

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Smartphone as a remote control:

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Remote Control of PC using smartphone:

Mobile Apps for Desktop PC Remote Control:

There are mobile apps for smartphones that let you access apps and files on your desktop PC. One of the main benefits of the modern world of mobile computing and the cloud is how it is designed to free users from their traditional desktop computers. However, sometimes there are specific applications that a person needs that are only available on his or her desktop, and there are certain files that many users would rather not put on cloud-based services.  So, how can a user enjoy the freedom of mobile devices while still being able to access the applications and files that are on a desktop system? The answer is through the use of remote control applications.  Remote control applications have long been a popular option for connecting laptops and home PCs to remote systems, but typically these have been, for example, accessing a Windows system from another Windows system. But with the rise in power and capabilities of smartphones and mobile operating systems, it is now possible to remotely access and control desktop systems from a smartphone. These apps range in capability from full-fledged remote control tools to apps designed to consume video and music to programs that turn a smartphone into something akin to a television remote control. With these apps, users can enjoy the freedom of mobility while still being able to access applications and files on their traditional desktop systems (just make sure to remember to leave those systems on when you are out and about).  That’s quite easy using any Android Smartphone and Windows PC that has Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. A few apps on Google Play makes your smartphone a universal remote to control any Windows machine giving access to all major features of Windows PC without even touching it. These apps uses Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection, server and client app to set up and control windows PC/ laptop.

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The figure below shows how a PC can be controlled by a smartphone using apps:

 

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How to access your computer from your Android smartphone using Chrome Remote Desktop:

Google has brought its Chrome Remote Desktop client to Android. Google’s software is reliable, useful, and relatively easy to set up.

Here’s what you need to get started:

•A computer running Chrome. It can be a Mac, a Windows machine, or a Chromebook. (Linux support should be on its way)

•An Android device running Android 4.0 or above

•An active internet connection on both devices. Note that having both devices connected to the same local network won’t bypass this requirement

•To be logged in with the same Google account on both the Android device and the Chrome browser on the computer you’re about to control remotely

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How to control a computer remotely using your iPhone or Android smartphone:

TeamViewer was the app that saved the evening. It allows you to control a PC or a Mac remotely, be it from an iPhone, an Android smartphone, or another computer. You have to download TeamViewer on both the computer you want to control and on the device you want to access it from. The quickest way to get the computer ready to be controlled remotely is to run the application instead of installing it. You do that by selecting “Run” instead of “Install” during setup. Once you accept the agreement, a window will appear showing your temporary ID and a password. Run TeamViewer on the computer you want to control remotely.  A TeamViewer client can be downloaded on an iPhone, iPad, or an Android smartphone or tablet. Just go back to the page where you dowlonaded the PC/Mac application from and hit that “Mobile” tab. Download links for Android and iOS are available there. You do that by opening the mobile app and entering the credentials given to you by the desktop application. Note that you don’t necessarily have to be connected to the same local or wireless network, it works over the internet too! Once you are connected, the computer’s desktop will magically appear on your smartphone or tablet’s screen. At the same time, the desktop application will inform you of the ongoing session with a pop-up window.

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Start your car remotely:

Viper SmartStart for your car enables you to lock, unlock or start the vehicle using iOS, Android or BlackBerry smartphones. To make it work, you will need the Viper security system and smartphone module installed in your car. The app also remembers where your car is parked and provides directions on your phone using augmented reality. Currently, SmartStart works only with the USbased GSM providers, though the company is working on making the app work everywhere.

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Control other devices like TV with your infrared equipped phone:

More and more Android phones are being released with infrared blasters, particularly high end handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. If your phone has one of these, then in theory it can control anything that responds to infrared signals. You’ll likely find that your phone already has an app that makes use of it hidden away somewhere, for example on the Samsung Galaxy S4 you’re looking for ‘WatchON’, which can be programmed to control your TV or set top box.

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Smartphone app to be used as hotel room keys:

The hotel group Starwood is to begin giving hotel guests the option to by-pass check-in and simply use their smartphones to enter their hotel rooms. The chain has upgraded 30,000 room locks in its nearly 150 hotels to work with the system, which uses Bluetooth technology. Rival chain Hilton is planning a similar move early next year for the 600,000 rooms in its portfolio. The technology’s developer says that it uses its own encrypted secure channel to ensure thieves cannot abuse the innovation. But experts have reservations. Nothing is 100% secure, and once this technology is in widespread use it will make a very tasty target for hackers. It may be more secure than a standard hotel swipe card lock but use of strong security features such as AES encryption and ‘rotating keys’ does not mean someone won’t find an alternate way in. However, traditional hotel door locks have been defeated with tools as simple as a wire.

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Camera as an interaction device:

The cameras of smartphones are used as input devices in numerous research projects and commercial applications. A commercially successful example is the use of QR Codes (vide supra) attached to physical objects. QR Codes can be sensed by the phone using its camera and provide an according link to related digital content, usually a URL. Another approach is using camera images to recognize objects. Content-based image analysis is used to recognize physical objects such as advertisement posters to provide information about the object. Hybrid approaches use a combination of unobstrusive visual markers and image analysis. An example is to estimate the pose of the camera phone to create a real-time overlay for a 3D paper globe. On recent camera phones it is even feasible to provide an augmented reality overlay for 2D objects and to recognize multiple objects on the phone using a stripped down object recognition algorithm as well as using GPS and compass. Auto-geotagging can show where a picture is taken, promoting interactions and allowing a photo to be mapped with others for comparison. Besides the usual back camera, almost all camera phones have a front camera facing the user for purposes including videoconferencing and mainly for self-portraiture (selfie which become trendy today).

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Smartphone as game console:

In the US alone, smartphone gaming has around 126 million players, making it one of the most popular segments. By 2016 that’s expected to rise to 144 million, according to a report by MediaBrix, which would equate to more than 8 in 10 smartphone users. So why such a sudden surge in popularity? Are games getting better or are we just spending more time at bus stops and doctor’s waiting rooms? One of the main reasons is cost: games are cheaper to buy on smartphones than their PC or console counterparts. They’re also a lot cheaper to make in general, meaning that the various app stores, particularly Google Play and the Apple App Store, have become flooded with an enormous selection of titles. Then there’s the fact that, according to eMarketer, 48.4% of the UK population have a smartphone, essentially meaning that almost 1 in 2 people will already have a device capable of playing portable games, rather than needing to invest in extra hardware. The difference in screen sizes means that smartphones don’t necessarily need to be as powerful as consoles to deliver high end graphics, as while smartphone games may not look great blown up on a big screen, the small display size of a phone hides many of the rough edges and lets them shine. Even though smartphone games may not be able to compete graphically with most recent console games, top end smartphones are certainly at least as powerful as older consoles such as the Xbox and the PS2; in fact they’re actually quite a bit more powerful on some metrics. The PS2, for example, had just a 300 MHz processor, a 147 MHz Graphics Synthesizer GPU and 32 MB of RAM. Compare that to the Samsung Galaxy S4, which has a 1.9 GHz quad-core processor, a 400 MHz Adreno 320 GPU and 2 GB of RAM and, on paper, smartphones should be way ahead. There are certainly benefits to gaming on a phone, but if you truly want to replicate the big screen and controller experience of playing on a console you can potentially do that too. There are a variety of controllers available that are compatible with, or in some cases even designed specifically for smartphones. Can smartphone gaming be as good as console gaming?  The short answer is not yet, but there’s a lot of hope for the future. Right now the overall experience of smartphone gaming is not as good as console gaming. Most smartphone games are substantially worse and their touchscreen control schemes are often clunky. Consoles will always have a place in the living room, while smartphones look set to become the gaming system of choice just about everywhere else.

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You can use your smartphone as a level:

Most smartphones include an accelerometer, which is used to identify your phone’s orientation, so that for example the screen will know when to auto rotate.  However it can also be used as a spirit level. If you have an Android or BlackBerry phone you can download apps to do this, but if you have an Apple device running iOS 7 the function is built right in. Having said that, you might be hard pushed to find it, as to get to it, you first have to launch the compass app and then swipe across to a second screen. It’s not the most obvious location but now you know where it is, you can get to work checking your bed/table/sofa/TV/house/cat is level.

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Use your Galaxy S4 to check temperature and humidity:

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is packed full of useful and not so useful features, but one that you might have missed is its temperature and humidity sensors. The data from these is buried in the S Health app, under the heading ‘Comfort Level’. The idea is that the sensors are used to judge whether you’re comfortable in your current environment. It’s an odd use for an unusual feature, but it can be interesting to see the temperature and humidity of your surroundings and whether you’re likely to be comfortable in them, particularly if you use it to judge a good time and location to start a workout.

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You can give your phone visual voicemail:

You might have visual voicemail already and if not you’re missing out. Smartphone users can get access to it by downloading an app, such as ‘HulloMail’, which is available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. It displays your voicemail as a menu, allowing you to tap a message to play it rather than having to listen to every message in order. You can also pause, fast forward and rewind messages and the app even allows you to view voicemails as text, though that latter function isn’t free.

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App to tell you if your friend’s smartphone is on:

Here comes an app that determines if your phone or your friend`s smartphone is on with over 99 percent accuracy. Billed as ON?, it also tells you if your phone is off. Just send a text through the ON? app to your friend, and they will be able to text you back through ON? to tell you their power status. If your friend`s phone is off, the message “Is your phone on?” will be delivered the next time they open the app. You should not have to turn something off and then back on again to know that it is on. You want to know that your phone is on, reliably and safely, without all the fuss. With the app, you can also find out which of your friends` phones are turned on and share the results with your social media friends.

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Smartphone App helps Visually Impaired to avoid Low-Hanging Obstacles: Blind Alert:

A smartphone app may provide a new answer to an old problem for the visually impaired: tree branches at head height. While guide dogs and walking canes can prevent a person from tripping over objects on the ground, they’re little help for spotting branches hanging over a sidewalk or a partially open garage door. Computer scientists in Spain have developed an app, called Aerial Object Detection, that recognizes and monitors head-level obstacles as a blind person approaches them. Users wear the smartphone like a necklace, with the camera facing out. A horizontal swipe across the screen selects the type of navigation: telemeter or obstacles. The first works for indoors, beeping or vibrating the phone as a person approaches an obstacle like a wall or an open cabinet. The obstacles mode detects danger outdoors. The app uses the phone’s 3D camera to scan the oncoming landscape. A tree branch becomes a cloud of points, and since the camera perceives depth, the app can figure out the absolute distance between a walker and the object. At the same time, motion sensors calculate the person’s heading and speed, so the app can time and tailor the alert.

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Smartphone technology to improve hearing devices:

Current hearing assistive devices are able to fit inside or behind the ear, but come with small, not very powerful processors to keep the device small, low power and low cost. On the other hand, smartphones used by billions of people have very powerful processors and other features such as large memories, microphones, speakers, wireless technology and long-lasting batteries that could aid HAD (hearing assistive devices) wearers. HAD algorithms can differentiate between a limited number of noises. More sophisticated algorithms are needed to cover more types of background noise signals, and these algorithms for noise classification and speech enhancement require more powerful processors and additional power consumption—the capabilities that smartphones can provide. Researchers are especially interested in the automatic classification of various background noise signals and enhancement of both quality and intelligibility of speech signals in noisy environments and crowded places. Current hearing aids don’t enhance speech signals optimally in an automatic manner. Researchers are working on a wide collection of smartphone apps to be used in conjunction with hearing aid devices to help improve the quality of life of people who wear hearing assistive devices (HAD), including hearing aids, cochlear implants and personal sound amplifiers.

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Smartphone technology improves prosthetic limbs:

Losing a limb can be a devastating experience, and while electrically powered prostheses can serve as a replacement for a lost arm, they are notoriously difficult to operate, and will never fully replace normal hand function. An accelerometer is a tool for detecting changes in gravity or velocity, and enables a device to determine its orientation. Accelerometers are relatively inexpensive, and are widely used in everything from video consoles to smartphones. The accelerometer in your smartphone helps it determine whether you want to look at a photograph in a portrait or landscape format, for example. Oyvind Stavdahl, an associate professor at NTNU’s Department of Engineering Cybernetics and Anders Fougner, a PhD candidate in the department, has shown that when an accelerometer is used in electrically powered prosthetic arm, it is easier for the user to recognize exactly how the arm is oriented in space.

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Wireless gas detection with a smartphone via RF communication: 2014:

Chemical sensing is of critical importance to human health, safety, and security, yet it is not broadly implemented because existing sensors often require trained personnel, expensive and bulky equipment, and have large power requirements. A study reports the development of a smartphone-based sensing strategy that employs chemiresponsive nanomaterials integrated into the circuitry of commercial near-field communication tags to achieve non-line-of-sight, portable, and inexpensive detection and discrimination of gas-phase chemicals (e.g., ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, cyclohexanone, and water) at part-per-thousand and part-per-million concentrations.

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Smartphone instrument for portable enzyme- linked immunosorbent assays: 2014:

Researchers demonstrate the utilization of a smartphone camera as a spectrometer that is capable of measuring Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA) at biologically-relevant concentrations with the aid of a custom cradle that aligns a diffraction grating and a collimating lens between a light source and the imaging sensor. Two example biomarkers are assayed using conventional ELISA protocols: IL-6, a protein used diagnostically for several types of cancer, and Ara h 1, one of the principle peanut allergens. In addition to the demonstration of limits of detection at medically-relevant concentrations, a screening of various cookies was completed to measure levels of peanut cross-contamination in local bakeries. The results demonstrate the utility of the instrument for quantitatively performing broad classes of homogeneous colorimetric assays, in which the endpoint readout is the color change of a liquid sample.

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KeyMe app to make duplicate key:

The KeyMe app, among others, is designed to help you if you lose your keys, but critics say it has a potentially dangerous dark side. The smart phone app lets you make back-up copies of your house and car keys just by taking a picture of them. You then send those photos, via the Internet, back to the KeyMe, or to a locksmith the company work with. Your back-up keys can then be duplicated in a matter of minutes. They’re either returned to you via courier or made right there at your local locksmith shop. In New York City you can have the keys duplicated at one of KeyMe’s kiosks. Anyone can make a copy. They tell you to lay the key down, take a photo, flip the key over, take another photo — done. It only takes a few seconds.  But, what if someone else clandestinely uses the app to take a picture of your keys?  It could be a valet driver, a mechanic who has access to your keys for a short period of time. They could order a key, they have your address, and they could return to your home at a later date. The CEO of KeyMe, Greg Marsh, defends the app saying just ordering the keys leaves a digital trail. The ordering process requires a credit card, but, as critics point out, stolen credit cards are used by crooks every single day. KeyMe started in New York City and is branching out across the country as it grows in popularity. The company points out that since they’ve been in business the app has not been linked to a single burglary or mentioned on any crime report.

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Measure Your Heart Rate:

Back in the day you would hold two fingers to the artery in your neck or arm, count the heartbeats and time them with a wristwatch. Who wears wristwatches anymore? Never mind that, who does math in their heads anymore? You don’t need a watch or the ability to multiply if you use the Instant Heart Rate app. Simply touch the screen with your finger and the phone’s camera will scan your blood flow to calculate your pulse rate.

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Identify Just About Anything: Google Goggles app:

Forgot the name of that thingamajig? Put on your Google Goggles and let the world’s biggest search engine remember it for you. Here’s how it works. Take a photo of the unknown object with the camera in your smartphone then upload it to the web via Google Goggles. The photo is then matched against the search engine’s database to make a quick ID. You don’t even have to type anything. It’s especially useful for translating foreign text. Goggles is a mobile-only app, primarily because it’s rather difficult to lift your desktop computer to take a picture of a landmark 30 miles away from home. Goggles is an Internet visual search. Snap a picture and then let Google’s algorithms do the brainstorming to figure out whatever it is that you see.

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Use it as a Mouse and Keyboard:

It’s not exactly a magic wand, but Mobile Mouse Pro comes pretty close. This app lets you control your computer using your smartphone as a remote mouse and keyboard. It uses the accelerometer in your phone so you can wave it in the air and move the mouse pointer on your computer screen. If you prefer, you can use your phone’s screen as a touchpad or call up the on-screen keyboard to type in some text. Note: In order to make it work you also have to install special client software on your computer.

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Dodge Speed Traps:

For those with a lead foot, this app could save you from yet another speeding ticket. Relying on information gleaned from the millions of people who use this app, Trapster maintains a massive database of known police enforcement points all over the continent. Simply check the map and drive accordingly. Just try not to use this app while you’re behind the wheel or you may end up with an even bigger fine than for speeding (many cities will ticket you for using your cell while driving).

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Store Business Cards:

Business cards seem so analog in this hyper-connected day and age, but plenty of people still hand them out. The problem with cards is that they start to pile up and you can never find the one you want when you need it. With CardMunch, an app offered by popular networking site LinkedIn, you can instantly digitize them using your smartphone’s camera.

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Pay with your Smartphone using Softcard:

Instead of cramming all that plastic into your wallet, use Softcard™ to safely store compatible payment card data on your smartphone. NFC technology enables your phone to communicate with checkout terminals at more than 200,000 locations across the US, same locations Apple Pay accepted. You can pay for products and services without even reaching for your wallet.

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Measure speed, height and distance of objects:

Have you wanted to get your hands on a radar gun, like the ones used by baseball scouts or the police? With your smartphone, you can measure the speed of moving objects with the apps Speed Gun (Android™) and SpeedClock (iOS). Great for sporting events like baseball, football or track and field. There are also a couple of nifty smartphone apps that will measure the height and distance of objects using your camera lens. Android users can check out Smart Measure Pro, while iOS users can try Dot Measure Pro.

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Social impact of taking a photograph with smartphone (camera phone):

Personal photography allows people to capture and construct personal and group memory, maintain social relationships as well as expressing their identity. The hundreds of millions of camera phones sold every year provide the same opportunities, yet these functions are altered and allow for a different user experience. As mobile phones are constantly carried, camera phones allow for capturing moments at any time. Mobile communication also allows for immediate transmission of content (for example via Multimedia Messaging Services), which cannot be reversed or regulated. While phones have been found useful by tourists and for other common civilian purposes, as they are cheap, convenient, and portable; they have also posed controversy, as they enable secret photography. A user may pretend to be simply talking on the phone or browsing the internet, drawing no suspicion while photographing a person or place in non-public areas where photography is restricted, or perform photography against that person’s wishes. At the same time, camera phones have enabled every citizen to exercise her or his freedom of speech by being able to quickly communicate to others what she or he has seen with their own eyes. In most democratic free countries, there are no restrictions against photography in public and thus camera phones enable new forms of citizen journalism, fine art photography, and recording one’s life experiences for facebooking or blogging. Camera phones have also been very useful to street photographers and social documentary photographers as they enable them to take pictures of strangers in the street without them noticing, thus allowing the artist/photographer to get close to her or his subjects and take more liveful photos. While most people are suspect of secret photography, artists who do street photography (like Henri Cartier-Bresson did), photojournalists and photographers documenting people in public (like the photographers who documented the Great Depression in 1930s America) must often work unnoticed as their subjects are often unwilling to be photographed or are not aware of legitimate uses of secret photography like those photos that end up in fine art galleries and journalism. As a network-connected device, megapixel camera phones are playing significant roles in crime prevention, journalism and business applications as well as individual uses. They can also be used for activities such as voyeurism, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement. Because they can be used to share media almost immediately, they are a potent personal content creation tool. On January 17, 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to encourage people to use their camera-phones to capture crimes happening in progress or dangerous situations and send them to emergency responders. Through the program, people will be able to send their images or video directly to 911. Apart from street photographers and social documentary photographers or cinematographers, camera phones have also been used successfully by war photographers. The small size of the camera phone allows a war photographer to secretly film the men and women who fight in a war, without them realizing that they have been photographed, thus the camera phone allows the war photographer to document wars while maintaining her or his safety.

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Enforcing bans on camera phones has proven nearly impossible. They are small and numerous and their use is easy to hide or disguise, making it hard for law enforcement and security personnel to detect or stop use. Total bans on camera phones would also raise questions about freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, since camera phone ban would prevent a citizen or a journalist (or a citizen journalist) from communicating to others a newsworthy event that could be captured with a camera phone. From time to time, organizations and places have prohibited or restricted the use of camera phones and other cameras because of the privacy, security, and copyright issues they pose. Such places include the Pentagon, federal and state courts, museums, schools, theaters, and local fitness clubs. Saudi Arabia, in April 2004, banned the sale of camera phones nationwide for a time before reallowing their sale in December 2004 (although pilgrims on the Hajj were allowed to bring in camera phones). There is the occasional anecdote of camera phones linked to industrial espionage and the activities of paparazzi (which are legal but often controversial), as well as some hacking into wireless operators’ network. Camera phones have also been used to discreetly take photographs in museums, performance halls, and other places where photography is prohibited. However, as sharing can be instantaneous, even if the action is discovered, it is too late, as the image is already out of reach, unlike a photo taken by a digital camera that only stores images locally for later transfer (however, as the newer digital cameras support Wi-Fi, a photographer can perform photography with a DSLR and instantly post the photo on the internet through the mobile phone’s Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities).

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Mobile medical applications:

The widespread adoption and use of mobile technologies is opening new and innovative ways to improve health and health care delivery. Mobile applications (apps) can help people manage their own health and wellness, promote healthy living, and gain access to useful information when and where they need it. These tools are being adopted almost as quickly as they can be developed. According to industry estimates, 500 million smartphone users worldwide will be using a health care application by 2015, and by 2018, 50 percent of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users will have downloaded mobile health applications. These users include health care professionals, consumers, and patients. Mobile medical apps are medical devices that are mobile apps, meet the definition of a medical device and are an accessory to a regulated medical device or transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device. Consumers can use both mobile medical apps and mobile apps to manage their own health and wellness. The Smartphone, both iPhones and Androids, have changed the way medicine is practiced on many levels.

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Information technology is finding many applications in the field of health and Medicine. Recently, short message service (SMS) communication has demonstrated its usefulness in helping people to stop smoking. Smartphone applications designed to assist healthcare personnel both in training and in decision making processes in daily clinical practice and in emergency care are increasing, and there is already some evidence of their usefulness. Such applications have also been used in patient care for monitoring biological parameters, detecting falls in the elderly, preventing cognitive impairment  and monitoring diabetes , as well as in cardiac rehabilitation  and also in the promotion of physical activity and the management of. Communication based on the use of mobile phones, and especially smartphones, has a strong potential to transform healthcare and clinical interventions in the community. However, its effectiveness needs to be evaluated in multicenter clinical trials, as recommended by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a way similarly to what is done with drug substances. A meta-analysis of the use of information technology in dietetic evaluation has concluded that it could improve dietary assessment in some population groups, though improved validity and reliability is required in evaluating micronutrients. Many applications have been developed in the field of health, and specifically in relation to diet and exercise, destined for use by the general population. Although the acceptance and ease of use of such applications has been evaluated among young adults for the registry of eating habits and physical activity, they have not been tested in other population types, and little is known of their effectiveness in relation to health outcomes. Few studies have validated these tools, though some investigations are presently in course. Even less work has been done to explore the impact of such applications in relation to increased physical activity and improved eating habits, and hence in terms of improvement of the health of the people who use them.

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The past few years have shown the multiplicity of uses of the Smart Phone:

1) Viewing Images: MRI, x-ray, but should not be used to diagnose

2) Monitors: constant glucose readings from sensors under the skin (CGM)

3) Diagnostic Tools: ECG strips, ECG with attachments

4) Microscope: with lens attachment, with 350X

5) Access Patient Records

6) e-Prescribing

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Patient Care and Monitoring:

There are several examples of the use of the smartphone’s features for patient monitoring. One such example involved patients with Alzheimer disease. An attempt to deal with the risk of wandering was proposed with the use of the Android app iWander. The app works by using the smartphone’s GPS to track the patient at all times. The patient’s age, level of dementia and home location on the GPS are input into the software. If the GPS detects that the patient is away from his or her home (for example, uncharacteristically late in the day or during inclement weather), the algorithm may predict that the patient has become confused. The app then requests that the patient manually confirm his or her status. Not providing confirmation triggers an alarm that notifies the patient’s family and primary care doctor or contacts emergency personnel. The smartphone has also been used in rehabilitation. Using smartphones connected via Bluetooth to a single-lead electrocardiograph (ECG) device, patients who were unable to attend traditional hospital-based rehabilitation were monitored in real time through their smartphones while they exercised in their own neighborhoods. Shoes fitted with sensors that communicate with the smartphone were used to follow the activity level of patients who have recently had a stroke. The smartphone’s accelerometer can be used to interpret gait and balance of patients. Another study entailed connecting a single-lead ECG to a smartphone to diagnose and follow treatment with sleep apnea, providing a possible alternative to costly and labor-intensive polysomnography.  Patients with type 1 diabetes are also among those who could benefit from smartphone technology, by using Diabeo. Diabeo is an app that collects information such as self-measured plasma glucose, carbohydrate counts, and planned physical activity prior to making insulin dosing recommendations. The use of the smartphone as a patient-monitoring device has also been described in resource-poor countries. Smartphones used by health care workers treating malaria in rural Thailand allowed for better follow-up, medication adherence, and collection of information. A similar study in Kenya allowed workers to collect data during home visits. Recently, teams have begun working on ECG recording devices that work with smartphones. Moreover, the smartphone is being used for echocardiography. MobiSante (MobiSante, Inc, Redmond, WA, USA) became the first company to design and build a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved cell phone-based medical diagnostic tool with an ultrasound probe in January 2011. A smartphone connected to a Doppler device has been used for blood flow measurement.

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Health Apps for the Layperson:

Weight loss and fitness apps are among the most used. The apps Lose It! and Calorie Counter provide a way for people to keep track of how many calories they consume and burn for better control of their weight loss goals. Based on the input information, such as the type and quantity of food consumed, these apps calculate the user’s total daily caloric expenditure. Other apps help track the amount of exercise an individual does. Using the GPS and accelerometer, phones can be turned into and navigators and pedometers. Wellness apps that teach yoga are available, as are apps that focus on other forms of relaxation such as breathing. Women can input the dates of their periods and body temperature to help predict ovulation. Some apps remind a patient to take his or her medication. Other apps contain an individual’s important medical information such as allergies, medications, and contact phone numbers in the event of an emergency. There is also an iPhone app that offers free hearing tests. iTriage (iTriage, LLC, Denver, CO, USA) is an app that provides patients with information such as the locations of nearby emergency rooms, doctors by specialty, and other practical information. It provides emergency room wait times and allows for registration via the app at participating locations. Another similar app was designed to improve diagnosis and treatment times of stroke patients. ZocDoc (ZocDoc, Inc, New York, NY, USA) allows patients to conveniently make appointments with physicians who choose to use this system. Patients can view open slots and other information about participating doctors.

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Communication, Education, and Research:

The smartphone has been used for years in hospitals with limited network capability. It also has been shown to improve communication among doctors and nurses on inpatient wards. Timely communication within hospitals remains a fundamental means by which to reduce medical errors. The internal medicine program at Toronto General Hospital conducted a study using dedicated BlackBerrys for each medical team. Nurses could call the team or use a Web program to send emails to these phones for less-urgent issues. Overall, surveys from residents reported improvements in communication and decreased disruption of workflow. Nurses reported decreased time spent attempting to contact physicians; however, there was no change in response time for urgent issues. Another study by this group also illustrated the efficiency of smartphones over pagers but noted a perceived increase in interruptions and weakened inter-professional relationships. They also reported value in the ability to receive non-urgent messages via email; however, there has been disagreement as to what types of messages are appropriate for various communication methods. Interesting and educational patient physical findings are better documented with the use of the phone’s camera. A group demonstrated that they could accurately diagnose acute stroke on brain computed tomography scans through the use of iPhones with identical accuracy to standard workstations. Another study of stroke patients found comparable examinations of patients in person and via iPhone. Several examples demonstrating the smartphone’s role in communication can be found in developing countries with scarce resources. In Africa, the amount of network coverage to send text messages with pictures ranges from 1.5% to 92.2%, providing an opportunity to send pictures of physical findings to aid in telediagnosis. Pictures from phone cameras of Gram stains have been sent via text messaged for remote diagnosis. Video clips of limited echocardiographic studies were taken in remote Honduran villages sent via iPhones to experts for interpretation. This has been reproduced with lung ultrasound. Engineers have created various microscopes that attach to smartphones, providing a cost-effective and mobile way to bring more technology to poor and rural regions. Development of point-of-care apps for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection treatment to support physicians with limited HIV training in undeveloped regions is expected to minimize errors and improve outcomes. In one example of the uses of the smartphone in medical education, doctors who were trained to use a smartphone app for teaching advanced life support had significantly improved scores during cardiac arrest simulation testing. A survey among medical residents in Botswana showed how a smartphone preinstalled with medical apps can be an effective way to obtain information in a resource-poor region.

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Physician and Student Reference Apps:

A study in 2010 claimed that over 60% of physicians surveyed felt that Epocrates (Epocrates, Inc, San Mateo, CA, USA) helped to reduce medical errors. Epocrates claims that their app can help save 20 minutes of time each day for many of their users, but this is not supported by the evidence base.

Medical Reference Apps:

Given the importance of medical reference apps, I present a list of commonly used apps to enhance continuing medical education, improve patient care, and promote communication as seen in the table below.

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List and description of popular medical applications for physicians:

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Drawbacks and obstacles vis-à-vis mobile medical apps:

Although there are numerous benefits to integrating smartphones into the practice of medicine and one’s personal life, there are noteworthy limitations. There are ramifications of patients self-diagnosing using apps that are not regulated. Moreover, the major technological improvements of both hardware and software are still relatively new and, thus, sometimes unreliable. Furthermore, older physicians and others less inclined to use or intimidated by new technologies may be at a disadvantage if the use of smartphones becomes more requisite within medicine. Similarly, elderly patients may find it difficult to use and interpret the information provided to them by their smartphone, possibly putting them at greater risk than those who are more technologically savvy. And finally, as we become more dependent on technology, we become more dependent on it working flawlessly, with catastrophic implications when it fails. Doctors and patients are not able to take full advantage of smartphone technology in areas such as teleconferencing, sending pictures, and emailing, due to health care system reimbursement processes in the United States. These systems usually reimburse only the time spent with patients face-to-face. As the smartphone integrates its way even more permanently into our medical practices, a greater question arises: will this mobile technology improve communication between doctors and patients or detract from it by limiting the personalized interactions that occur best at the bedside or in the office?

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Smartphone the digital doctor:

New tools are tilting health-care control from doctors to patients:

With innovative digital technologies, cloud computing and machine learning, the medicalized smartphone is going to upend every aspect of health care. And the end result will be that you, the patient, are about to take center stage for the first time. With the smartphone revolution, an increasingly powerful new set of tools—from attachments that can diagnose an ear infection or track heart rhythms to an app that can monitor mental health—can reduce our use of doctors, cut costs, speed up the pace of care and give more power to patients. Digital avatars won’t replace physicians: You will still be seeing doctors, but the relationship will ultimately be radically altered. Using wearable wireless sensors, you can use your smartphone to generate your own medical data, including measuring your blood-oxygen and glucose levels, blood pressure and heart rhythm. And if you’re worried that your child may have an ear infection, a smartphone attachment will let you perform an easy eardrum exam that can rapidly diagnose the problem without a trip to the pediatrician. These innovations are just the start. In the next year or two (depending on approval by the FDA), many Americans will probably start sporting wristwatches that continuously and passively capture their blood pressure and vital signs with every heartbeat, without even having to press a start button. Let’s say you have a rash that you need examined. Today, you can snap a picture of it with your smartphone and download an app to process the image. Within minutes, a dedicated computer algorithm can text you your diagnosis. That message could include next steps, such as recommending a topical ointment or a visit to a dermatologist for further assessment.  Smartphones already can be used to take blood-pressure readings or even do an electrocardiogram. ECG apps have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for consumers and validated in many clinical studies. The apps’ data are immediately analyzed, graphed, displayed on-screen updated with new measurements, stored and (at an individual’s discretion) shared.

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Can smartphone save life?

Take asthma attacks. A teenager who’s prone to wheezing in gym class could get comprehensive data on environmental exposures such as air quality and pollen count, along with data on physical activity, oxygen concentration in the blood, vital signs and chest motion; their lung function can be assessed through their smartphone microphone, and their nitric-oxide levels can be sampled via their breath. Then that information could be combined with the data from every other tracked asthma patient—and trigger a warning, delivered by text or voice message on the teenager’s phone, that an attack is imminent and tell the teenager which inhaler would prevent it. The same type of procedure could prevent heart failure, seizures, severe depression and autoimmune disease attacks. It could save countless lives.

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Video consultation via smartphone:

Now, at any time of day or night, you can demand and get a secure video consultation with a doctor via smartphone at the same cost (about $30-$40) as the typical copay charge through employer health plans. This may seem exotic now, but several large consulting firms—including Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers—have forecast that virtual physician visits (replacing physical office visits) will soon become the norm. Deloitte says that as many as one in six doctor visits were already virtual in 2014. In many U.S. cities, you can even use a mobile app to request a doctor’s house call during which a physician would not only provide a consultation but could even perform procedures, such as suturing a wound, which would have usually required an expensive emergency room visit.

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Virtual psychiatrist on smartphone:

New apps aim to quantify your state of mind by a composite of real-time data: tone and inflection of voice, facial expression, breathing pattern, heart rate, galvanic skin response, blood pressure, even the frequency and content of your emails and texts. We may soon take an even bigger step forward, thanks to the unexpected advantages of virtual psychiatrists. Recent studies, including a paper by Gale Lucas and others published last year in the Journal of Computers in Human Behavior, have demonstrated that people are more willing to disclose their inner thoughts to a computer avatar or “virtual human” than a real one. With machines working to quantify moods and even offering virtual counseling to help make up for our current profound shortage of mental health professionals, we can glimpse a new approach to improving mental health.

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Lab and imaging on smartphones:

It isn’t just hospitals’ rooms that are on their way out; so are their labs. Smartphone attachments will soon enable you to perform an array of routine lab tests via your phone. Blood electrolytes; liver, kidney and thyroid function; analysis of breath, sweat and urine—all can be checked with small fluid samples in little labs that plug directly into smartphones. And you can do your own routine labs at a fraction of the current cost. Meanwhile, nearly all sophisticated medical imaging devices are being miniaturized: Hand-held ultrasound devices are already available, and some medical schools have begun issuing them in the place of the old-school stethoscope. Hand-held MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines aren’t far behind, and engineers at UCLA have come up with a smartphone-sized device that can generate X-rays. It won’t be long before you can take a smartphone X-ray selfie if you’re worried that you might have broken a bone. Before these tools enter widespread use, they must all be validated through clinical trials and shown to not only preserve health but to do so while lowering costs. Without such validation, the whole promise of digital medicine will be for naught.

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Smartphone and education:

Smartphone apps are providing solutions for businesses, healthcare, and education. Almost every aspect of a human life problem has a smartphone app. According to available statistics education apps were the second-most popular category in July 2013, with a share of 10% of all apps being learning apps. This growth suggests that apps will play a major role in reshaping the future of education.

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While mobile technologies are not yet widely and routinely used in education, they have the potential to be used in a multitude of pedagogical and other contexts in higher education. For example, Patten, Sanchez and Tangney (2006) have identified several categories of use:

• Administration, e.g., the use of calendars, exam reminders, grading software;

• Referential, e.g., dictionaries, e-books and office applications;

• Interactive, e.g., quizzes, response software;

• Microworld, e.g., simulations, games;

• Data collection, e.g., data logging, note taking, audio recording, eportfolios

• Location aware, e.g., augmented environments, GPS navigation and tagging; and

• Collaborative, e.g., pod/vodcasting, blogging, instant messaging.

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Modern Day Education through Apps:

Normally teachers are good at organizing, managing and conducting activities. However they feel the heat at times. Apps can help to achieve better performance in organizing, managing, and monitoring classroom activities. A study “Living and Learning with mobile devices” by Grunwald Associates suggests that 28% of middle school and 51% of high school students carry a smartphone with them every day. Google Drive can even help teachers in sharing assignments, syllabuses, and reading materials through few taps and clicks. Teachers are discovering that apps are some of the best, most engaging ways to teach difficult subjects like math and science. For example, the free NASA app offers videos, images, and interactive displays that bring space to life in a way that a lecture never could. A good bit of news for all the environmentalists and eco-friendly people out there; using apps for learning and teaching reduces paper usage and it is cost effective too. Count all those trees we can save by just assigning quizzes, assignments, reading materials, and books through Google Drive and Dropbox apps.

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School attendance app:

Teachers already have reading materials, class notes, handouts, books, and personal accessories. To top it all off, they have to take care of all the attendance sheets too. ittendance is an iPhone app which marks a student’s attendance with a photo. So no more double entries and fake attendances. School management will also have an easy time pulling out attendance records for a particular student. iTunes U is another useful app from Apple for teachers to create and courses including essential components such as books, lectures, assignments and quizzes.

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Educating children with learning disabilities:

One of the most important sections of students benefitting from iPhone and Android apps is children with learning disabilities. Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store is filled with apps for children with learning disabilities. Smartphone apps are helping children suffering from Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Muscular Dystrophy and Blindness. Apps like Learning Ally, Voice4U, and ZoomReader to help children with learning disabilities. iPhone and Android apps are huge blessings for schools, teachers, and parents to help these kids learn.

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Reasons to use smartphones in the classroom:

With the widespread use of smartphones by younger and younger students, what are the practical reasons for allowing smartphones as a learning tool in the classroom?

1. Students learn in a way they are comfortable. Smartphones are young-person intuitive. More and more students know how to use them, and they are becoming the most used “tool” by teens.

2. Students can get answers quickly. Smartphones provide the ability to get answers quickly. In some situations, a student may not ask for clarification to a question he or she has in an open classroom. Use of a smartphone in a classroom setting can provide those answers.

3. Audio and video can bring learning to life.

4. They can even connect with other students from around the globe and expand their learning world.

5. Smartphones allow for social learning. Smartphones can allow students to work in groups on projects, sharing information and discoveries. They can move toward a common goal, again, in a format they are comfortable using.

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Three case studies on smartphone use in class:

1. At Cimarron Elementary School near Houston, TX, smartphones are actually given to students, but without messaging or calling capabilities. They’re used to access the internet, schedule homework, and send e-mails to teachers and fellow students regarding assignments. The phones allow students to conduct web searches, scan QR codes linked to relevant websites, graph science projects, and create Excel spreadsheets. Results are encouraging: students’ overall math and science scores have improved from the previous year!

2. Teens at Mounds View High School in the Twin Cities area were given the green light to use their favorite technologies in class, including PDAs, tablets, and smartphones. Teachers concede a few drawbacks to the new policy, but they contend the learning opportunities outweigh the disadvantages. Impressed with the positive feedback generated by supportive teachers, the Minneapolis School District recently approved a broader measure to allow tech devices into more classrooms.

3. Qualcomm is working with Southwest High School in North Carolina to improve student test scores using smartphones. Called Project K-Nect, Qualcomm has distributed smartphones in select courses, and teachers hope the devices will introduce high-tech applications to students who don’t have access to the internet at home. So far, the program has encouraged administrators after they determined their kids performed 25 percent better than classmates without smartphones on a final algebra exam.

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Considering the Smartphone Learner: an investigation into student interest in the use of personal technology to enhance their learning: 2012 study:

Ownership of mobile smartphones amongst the general consumer, professionals and students is growing exponentially. The potential for smartphones in education builds upon experience described in the extensive literature on mobile learning from the previous decade which suggests that the ubiquity, multi-functionality and connectivity of mobile devices offers a new and potentially powerful networked learning environment. The study found that students who own smartphones are largely unaware of their potential to support learning and, in general, do not install smartphone applications for that purpose. They are, however, interested in and open to the potential as they become familiar with the possibilities for a range of purposes. The paper proposes that more consideration needs to be given to smartphones as platforms to support formal, informal and autonomous learner engagement. The study also reflects on its collaborative methodology and the challenges associated with academic innovation.

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Smartphone, students and learning:

Handheld technologies such as smartphones provide students with quick and easy access to relevant information (Wei, Chen, Wang, & Li, 2007) and the fact that smartphones are portable and easier to carry than other devices allows students to learn whenever and wherever (Daher, 2009). The use of smartphones comes naturally to 21st century students education and because of their familiarity with technology, students find utilizing such devices during the learning process simple and enjoyable (Echeverria, et al., 2011).  Zhang, Song and Burston (2011) noted that mobile phone technologies have the potential to increase learners’ efficiency in self-regulated learning environments. Daher (2009) found that utilizing smartphones as part of the curriculum met the individual learning needs of students which included improving anytime and anywhere communication and collaboration. They also offer a more personalized from of learning and instruction that can be tailored to the abilities, interests and diverse needs of students (Song, Wong, & Looi, 2012). As a result of this tailoring Song, Wong and Looi (2012) found that students felt empowered with self-sufficiency and developed and followed their own learning paths which allowed more room for creativity, collaboration and problem-solving. Koh, Loh and Hong (2013, p.110) affirmed that “with the help of the smartphones, students took charge of their own learning.” Smartphones also help enhance group learning outcomes by facilitating more interactive discussions among group members (Huang, Wu, & Chen, 2012).  Gedik et al. (2012) described the “push effect” that is employed by smartphones to alert users of waiting messages and emails has also proved to be an advantage because it serves as stimuli prompting learners to start working. This “push effect” is considered to be a strength when employing smartphones in learning contexts because it “pushed” students to be attentive in studying and revising content at home which otherwise would not be possible (Gedik, et al., 2012). Clough, et al. (2007) found that mobile devices such as smartphones support the process of learning and can provide opportunities for learning in new ways utilizing a mobile context that otherwise would not have occurred. Using such technologies in educational environments can provide diverse learning opportunities for educators and students (Gedik et al., 2012). Price, et al. (2012) found that there has been some reluctance to integrating smartphones into curriculum because of issues such as inappropriate internet access. However, Koh, Loh and Hong (2013) noted that the emergence of smartphone adoption for learning has steadily increased especially in tertiary education and is starting to penetrate more and more into secondary and elementary education. Utilizing smartphone technology “allows learners to take advantage of emerging technologies to enhance their learning efficiency” (Zhang, Song, & Burston, 2011, p. 210). Utilizing smartphone technology in the curriculum is not only beneficial for students: instructors can also benefit from using smartphones to provide timely, effective, constructive and frequent feedback to learners (Chen, et al., 2013). Such technological tools also provide instructors with ease of tracking and analyzing student responses and progress (Kizito, 2012).

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Limitations of smartphone in school for learning purpose:

1. Kizito (2012) found that there has been a delay in the adoption of smartphones as useful tool in teaching and learning due to specific limitations such as screen size, battery life and security, all of which hinder learning. The smartphones’ small screen size can make it difficult to view and properly display materials and as a result there is a high risk of reducing learning performance due to increased cognitive load (Chen, et al. 2013). The study by Jubien (2013) furthered this finding noting that reading materials on a smartphone is actually more complex; if the material that is to be read contains complex or unfamiliar words learners would have to switch applications to define the word. This can lead to a host of issues for learners such as having to switch back and forth between applications, which in turn makes it difficult for students to focus (Jubien, 2013). Huang (2012) contended that bigger screen sizes associated with newer version smartphones will help students type and read in a more effective manner. Echeverria (2011) found that the processing limitations of the smartphone must also be considered when designing collaborative activities for learning as slow response times can cause users to quickly lose interest in the learning task. Due to these physical limitations of the smartphone it can be difficult to provided full instruction using these devices and therefore they are more suitable for supporting face to face instruction (Gedik, et al., 2012).

2.  Koh (2013) noted that the use of a smartphone in learning activities can at first be associated with novelty among students. Students can easily get caught up in non-learning activities when smartphones are used with the intention of enchancing learning (Koh, Loh, & Hong, 2013). Therefore it is important to regularly integrate their use in the classroom so that students are not as distracted by their novelty effect (Gedik, et al., 2012).

3. Zhang, Song and Burston (2011) found that using smartphones to enhance learning can disrupt, distract, and discourage instead of motivate learning.

How do smart phones affect education?

a) Since these smart phones provides internet, students visit internet all the time

b) Students love to explore new stuff such as new games, pictures and watch YouTube while they’re in class

c) They tend to forget about their school work if they’re busy on internet, listening to music or playing games

d) They forever on chartrooms, even during the classes

e) Students doesn’t force on their school work

f) Students use their phone to read newspapers online and ignore useful stuff

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Negative effects of smart phone:

Now I will discuss negative effects of smartphone including adverse impact on ecology, biology, environment, workplace, society, children and health.

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Like many other devices, smartphones also have their own negative impacts. People are well aware of cell phone radiation and its effect, but when it comes to smartphones people seem to forget all about the radiation; so much so some people take their smartphones to their bed and find themselves plugged in while they should be dozing off. As a result, the brain finds it hard to relax when all this information being fed and this is why smartphones are linked to many sleeping problems. Many scientific studies have examined that smartphones are disrupting people’s sleep by exposing them to lights that can interfere with melatonin which is a hormone that helps control the natural sleep-wake cycle (Sharon). People nowadays are texting while they are asleep and walking up to a text they don’t remember sending which is called sleep texting. An increasing number of smartphone owners are texting in their sleep and for people who communicate through text the impact on sleep quality is noticeable. A survey gave a realization that people are squandering their money on games and emptying their pockets for frivolous things. This, beyond a doubt, shows that people favor to use their smartphones for recreation rather than work and productivity. Smartphones are also interfering with student’s study habits.  Students would rather keep their hands glued to their phones than holding a book. Instead of conducting useful and helpful materials for their study, they are too occupied taking pictures of themselves and sharing it on social media. Recent study linked students who constantly use their phones to result in a lower GPA and unhappiness (LaBossiere).  Another problem noticed in student’s life is texting and other smartphone-related distractions that have become a serious issue for failure. Accessing social media constantly and texting non-stop results in a dangerous cycle where students easily use their smartphones for entertainment and stimulation, but this need for instant gratification deflates their motivation to focus, to participate, to engage, to wonder, to invest of themselves, to inspire and be inspired which leads to dumbing the individual (Cheung).  Smartphones may be smart, but the constant use of smartphone could be dumbing a person who is using is constantly. Back before smartphones, people would use their mind to try and solve problems or answer a question. Today, smartphones are providing everything to the user. As a result, people developed the need to turn to their smartphone for every single question, instead of taking the time to think and answer for themselves. People should use their own brain to solve problems rather than having to develop a preference to use the applications on their smartphone. Smartphones have also changed the way that people interact with each other. They allow their users to be in a conversation without showing their personal expressions. It has changed society’s norms. Some people don’t even know what should be said on texts and what shouldn’t. People are using texting to tell each other secrets, bad news, apologies, condolences and even marriage proposals, divorces and embarrassing things through text. Smartphones have truly changed the way people communicate which made texting, one of the most preferable and  primary way of communication these days because smartphones provide many application that will assist people to even text for free with the help of the internet and an application (Woolford, Blake and Clark). This type of communication may lead to many problems such as relationship problems and not being able to express one’s self verbally. “22% of teens use instant messaging daily to talk to others and 63% say that they use text to communicate with others every day” (Lenhart). A survey conducted confirms that 7% to 20% of teenagers have sexted using their smartphones which leads to an understanding that smartphones give the opportunity for teenagers to engage themselves in these kind of activities while they shouldn’t (Gilkerson). As a consequence, contact with voice call is being replaced by multimedia messages that smartphone applications offer. Accordingly, people are on the way of losing face-to-face contact or even voice contact. Not only could this change the way that people contact each other, but smartphones also lead people to socially isolate themselves from the outside world. Smartphone users are often observed as being preoccupied with sending texts and e-mails, playing games, web searching, social networking and so on that they end up not paying attention to their  physical surroundings and people and conversations that are taking place around them. Although, many people love being able to stay reachable and connected through e-mails, texts and calls through their smartphones, it is the same constant availability that can lead to major stress problems. Every time a phone rings or alerts a new message they feel a slight tingle of anxiety. This is especially true for people with high stress jobs (Irvine). Constant Web browsing has diminished the brain’s ability to sustain focus and think interpretively. Sara Pritchard, a historian of technology at Cornell University, says her dumbphone helps her to be more productive and forces her to be more thoughtful about how she spends her time. Like most dumbphone users, she feels like it allows her to be “present”  rather than spending dinner with a friend splitting time between the real world and the screen.

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New researches have also found that college freshmen experience more interpersonal stress that was associated with higher levels of texting if they are overly reliant on their phone (Jacobs and Standard). Another issue with people chatting or updating their Facebook status or Twitter account with their smartphone is the development of the habit of shortening words which lead to grammar problems. Another disadvantage of smartphones that troubles most teenagers and adults is the risk of identity theft and hacked accounts. Four in ten (40%) smartphone users in the United States agree that they don’t understand cyber security well enough to know how to protect themselves. These threats are often connected with accessing pornography. Additional negative impact that smartphones impose on young people is the access of pornography at any given time in any given place since smartphones are able to access the internet either through Wi-Fi or data package. Having constant access to pornography is considered harmful both physiological and mentally. Pornography accessed from the phone can result the owner to many problems also including identity theft by taking personal information that are already in the smartphone. The most observed negative impact of smartphones is addiction, or developing a huge attachment or dependency toward using smartphones. Smartphones enable people to stay more connected than ever but the addiction continues to grow (Kelly). Smartphone addiction is a serious issue that needs serious attention. A smartphone addict is someone who checks for messages every five minutes, a person who finds it necessary to get up in the middle of the night or early in the morning to check for messages or a person that uses smartphone in inappropriate places or where it is unnecessary to use such as in churches, bathrooms, and while also dining. For some people all these acts might be normal or non-harmful activities but it is these same acts that interfere with a person’s well-being and the well-being of society. Some people are so addicted to their smartphone that they are even disconnected from the people in their lives.

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Smartphones limit how humans interact by reducing the development of interpersonal closeness and trust and leading people to feel less empathy and understanding from their partners. People who are dependent on their smartphones do every activity on their smartphone and they constantly check it every single second. Many smartphone users are addicted to the features of their smartphones that they hear phantom text message vibrations when there is no message received. Teenagers are alertly watching their smartphones. Due to this most schools forbid students the use phones in the school compound but some teenagers who can’t live a day without their smartphones sneak their smartphones in any way to text or to do whatever they do on their device. This leads the students to suspension if ever caught and it also disrupts the learning process.  The problem of being addicted to smartphones is so severe that some researchers have unveiled that most people owing smartphones in America take their smartphones to the bathroom to do different tasks such as texting, social networking and even talking on the phone during their stay in the bathroom (Mello Jr). From the findings of the research, texting was the most popular smartphone related bathroom activity (Kelly). Other shocking places people use their smartphones are at church or a place of worship (19%), in the shower (12%), and 55% admitted texting while driving (Kelly). This survey has shown that people are very addicted to their smartphones that they use even in inappropriate places. The issues of being dependent or addicted on smartphones need to be recognized and people need to take control of their lives. Briefly, smartphones have impacts on people’s lives both positively and negatively. From the information provided it can be conclude that smartphones are definitely changing the society in both productive and unproductive ways. On the positive side, smartphones assist on productivity, effective time usage and energy efficiency. On the negative side, they are changing the norms of society in a wrong way. The more one connects to his or her smartphone the more he or she disconnects from the real world. The development of being on a smartphone 24/7 shows that the device has impacted people’s lives in a deeper level. People need to wake up and realize what is going on and need to take control because smartphones as any other technological products will always have issues, complications, troubles, and challenges that demand to be labeled. More importantly, people need to use smartphone features to their benefit. But again, you observe people that are so addicted that they abuse the use of their smartphone which leads them in harm’s way. As long as people are using smartphones constantly, they grant their device to impact their lives both positively and negatively. It mostly comes to an individual’s liability to make the best his or her device and take control of the life he or she leads. There are concerns that some mobile phone users incur considerable debt, and that mobile phones are being used to violate privacy and to harass others. In particular, there is increasing evidence that mobile phones are being used as a tool by children to bully other children. Also, using a cell phone before bed can cause insomnia.

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Smartphone harming ecology and living organisms:

Known for their beauty, aspens have been in decline across North America, with some dramatic losses in recent years. Aware of the rapid growth of radiofrequency (RF) radiation, particularly from mobile-phone ‘towers’, Colorado researcher Katie Haggerty had an inspiration: she planted three test plots of aspen seedlings. Carefully matched in all other respects, one plot was shielded from a nearby town’s RF radiation, one was ‘mock’ shielded, and the other was left unprotected. The difference, recorded in the International Journal of Forestry Research, was startling: the fully shielded saplings were vigorous and healthy, but both the ‘mock’ shielded and the exposed plants were small, lacked pigments, and had sickly leaves. Across the Atlantic, Spanish biologist Alfonso Balmori of the Institute for the Environment (Consejería de Medio Ambiente) in Castilla y León was conducting a sensitive study of tadpoles. Sited 140m from a set of phone masts, those shielded from its radiation developed normally and in sync; but the unshielded tadpoles grew unevenly, and only 10% survived. In Switzerland, the University of Zurich’s Michael Hässig recorded multiple cataracts in calves near masts, whilst Belgian researcher Joris Everaert of the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) mapped striking declines in house sparrows in masts’ main fields. Anil Kumar of the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Jammu in Kashmir, and Sukhdev Dongre of Jayvanti College in Betul, Madhya Pradesh echoed his findings. Meanwhile, Marie-Claire Cammaerts and her team at the Université Libre in Brussels studied the effects of a weak signal on ant colonies and discovered that they became confused to such an extent that they no longer remembered the cues that led them to food. Studies have shown that mobile phones impact the behavior of bees and could be contributing to the worldwide decline of bee populations. If one of the main pollinators ceases to exist, the world’s food supply will plummet. Honey bees pollinate about $15 billion worth of crops in the U.S. annually, including some of the most common fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, blueberries, cherries, broccoli and carrots, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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At the University of Washington in Seattle in 1995, microbiologists Henry Lai and Narendra Singh exposed mammalian cells to a weak microwave signal. Magnitudes below current safety levels set by the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection showed a comet-tail of DNA damage streaming from each cell. Today, many international teams have witnessed similar effects (breakages, failed transcriptions, delays in repair), as well as altered gene expression, seen for example in a Munich-based study by Franz Adlkofer. Indeed, studies conducted by radiobiologist Dimitris Panagopoulus at the University of Athens found that fruit flies exposed even to weak fields of radiation suffered DNA damage and infertility.

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Though industry dismisses any concerns as fantasy, a team led by Patrizia Frei at the University of Basel in 2009 found that cumulative exposure from urban cell-towers was higher on average than that from mobile phones themselves. And many researchers have noted increased headaches, poor sleep and other problems in families living near them. Though brief lab studies quite often find no ill effects, this does not rule out chronic influences – Klaus Buchner of the Technical University at Munich, and Emad Eskander, an endocrinologist at the National Research Centre in Cairo, each found long-term hormonal imbalances in people living near new or existing masts. And even more ominously, when environmental engineer Adilza Dode of the University of Minas Gerais scrutinised public health records in Brazil, she found that cancer deaths increased sharply with local mast density – it seems this could not be explained away – whilst in Israel, physiologist Ronni Wolf of Tel Aviv University documented quadruple cancer rates in their near fields. Though the European Environment Agency has called for less exposure and far more caution, such wisdom is lost in the stampede. Insects, plants, birds, ourselves: we are all caught in a vast experiment from which there is little escape.

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Smartphone and environmental impact:

Like other electronic products, making smartphones involves the mining of minerals such as coltan, which are toxic to humans and wildlife. Other raw materials, such as oils, copper, plastics, and solvents, have the potential to contaminate both the soil and groundwater. Smartphones also contain toxic chemicals such as lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury, and cadmium. Like other electronic products, phones become electronic waste when discarded.

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Coltan, smartphone and war:

Coltan, also known as columbite-tantalite, is a dull black metallic mineral containing the elements niobium and tantalum. Tantalum, a heat-resistant material that can hold a strong electrical charge, is used to make capacitors used in a wide variety of electronic devices, from cellphones to nuclear reactors. It is also used in high-heat-resistant steel alloys for applications such as aircraft engines. The mineral is found in a number of countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada and China, in addition to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Potential mines are also being explored in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greenland, Mozambique, the United States, Finland, Afghanistan, Venezuela and Colombia. Human rights observers charge that coltan, used in electronic devices such as cellphones, DVD players, video game systems and computers, has been directly linked to financing civil wars in Africa, especially in the DRC. The war claimed almost 5.5 million lives. In unsafe mines deep underground in eastern Congo, children are working to extract minerals essential for the electronics industry. Workers, including children, have been forced to work at gunpoint while mining for smartphone materials. The profits from the minerals finance the bloodiest conflict since the Second World War; the war has lasted nearly 20 years and has recently flared up again. FairPhone is an attempt to develop a mobile phone which does not contain conflict minerals.

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Mobile industry tackles tin problems after Friends of the Earth campaign:

Nokia, Sony, Blackberry, Motorola and LG Electronics have all publicly accepted for the first time that their phones are likely to contain tin that’s destroying tropical forests, killing coral and wrecking the lives of communities in Indonesia. The move was prompted by Friends of the Earth’s investigation into the devastation caused by mining for tin on Bangka. Tin is used as solder in all phones and electronic gadgets and around a third of the world’s mined tin comes from Bangka and neighbouring island Belitung. The tin extraction process has been identified as environmentally destructive and, as of September 2013, children are employed in hazardous conditions to extract tin.

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Recycled smartphones:

Only 8 percent of cellphones are collected to be recycled, according to research from the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, in 2009. Whether smartphones are sold or recycled, anything beats tossing them. While newer smartphones contain fewer toxic chemicals, phones produced before 2010 were teeming with bromine, mercury and lead, according to a chemical analysis. Throwing away a smartphone — or any cellphone really — is nearly a criminal waste of resources.  Every 1 million recycled cellphones yields 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium, according to the EPA. While there is no shortage of options for recycling your old smartphone, the process of recycling is still sketchy. E-waste recycling and disposal practices found in places such as China, India, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Ghana and Pakistan include open burning of plastics, exposure to toxic solders, leakages of acids into rivers and general dumping of waste material.

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Smartphone, workers and workplace:

Smartphones and work place:

How does a smart phone affect communication in work place?

1. It affects the employees, especially when they’re presenting and the management is busy doing something else on the phone rather than listening

2. People who uses their phones during the meetings normally doesn’t pay attention to what’s being said

3. It set an unpleasant example of business and it also affect the importance of the meeting

4. As employees do their presentation to their CEO’s they do listen and offer insightful type away on their phones

5. People use their phones during meetings

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Risks of using smart phones in working area:

1. Management can make unpleasant mistakes while they’re busy checking emails, responding right away, visiting sites on internet

2. People lose concentration

3. It interrupts productivity

4. Using smartphone for long time will strain eyes and hands at work place.

5. A person could be explored to behavioral health risks and technology overload

6. Smart phones are addictive

7. Survey show that most people agree that smart phones hurt workplace etiquette

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Adverse impact of smartphone on physical health:

1. iPosture:

How often do you see people obsessively slouching over their phones for hours at a time? Slouching strains the neck and back muscles. According to a Simplyhealth study of young adults that was conducted in the United Kingdom, 84% experienced back or neck pain in 2013. This is likely the result of being hunched over modern technological devices.

Texting tweaks the spine:

Looking down at a smartphone screen to send a text or update Facebook does more than create potential collisions. It also puts pounds of pressure on the spine, according to a new study in Surgical Technology International. Unless you train yourself to stare straight ahead into your iPhone screen, you could be continually stressing your spine and pressure increases from around 27 pounds at a 15 degree angle to 60 pounds at a 60 degree angle. Researcher Kenneth Hansraj concluded in the study that such stress could lead to early wear and tear that could someday require surgical attention.

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The figure below shows that pressure on cervical spine increases proportional to bending of neck:

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2. Computer Vision Syndrome:

Did you think that staring at that small screen for hours would actually help your eyes? Squinting to see the miniscule font in your texts as you read through the latest Facebook updates leads to eyestrain, blurred vision, dizziness, and dry eyes. When combined with the back pain caused by iPosture, the negative consequences can be headaches and even migraines.

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3. Text Claw:

Although it is not a medical term, text claw describes all of the finger cramping and sore hand muscles that come from continuous scrolling, texting, and gaming on smartphones. Doctors believe that the constant use of smartphones can cause inflammation in tendons, and possibly lead to tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel, often linked to office work such as typing, is also a common side effect of smartphone use. Overuse of tendons in the arms causes inflammation, which then leads to pain and numbness. Additionally, smartphone use can lead to “cellphone elbow,” an appropriately named ailment that stems from bending at the elbow for long periods of time, one Indiana clinic reported. The condition causes tingling or numbness in the ring and pinky fingers.

BlackBerry thumb:

BlackBerry thumb is a neologism that refers to a form of repetitive strain injury (RSI) caused by the frequent use of the thumbs to press buttons on PDAs, smartphones, or other mobile devices. The name of the condition comes from the BlackBerry, a brand of smartphone that debuted in 1999, although there are numerous other similar eponymous conditions that exist such as cellphone thumb, smartphone thumb, Android thumb, and iPhone thumb. The medical name for the condition is De Quervain syndrome and is associated with the tendons connected to the thumb through the wrist. Symptoms of BlackBerry thumb include aching and throbbing pain in the thumb and wrist. In severe cases, it can lead to temporary disability of the affected hand, particularly the ability to grip objects.

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4. Phantom Smartphone Vibration Syndrome:

What’s happening in my pocket? Is someone trying to text or call me? Is my ringer off? Isn’t that my smartphone vibrating? According to Dr. Michelle Drouin, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, 89% of the undergraduates in her study had experienced phantom smartphone vibrations when their phones were not actually vibrating or not even in their pockets. Students dependent on text messages and social media updates became anxious and upset because the phantom vibration was not real.

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5. Sleep texting:

Some people are so fond of their smartphones that they actually send text messages while sleeping.  Generally, sleep texting occurs in the first two hours after a person falls asleep and they are unaware they are doing it. While sleep texting can lead to some embarrassing conversations, it poses a greater threat to sufferers since it interrupts deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Sufferers often wake up exhausted as they are not getting the deep sleep which is critical to higher brain function. The problem can be addressed by banishing phones from the bedroom and by switching them off an hour before going to sleep.

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6. Cyber-sickness:

This is the modern day version of motion sickness that is a side effect of the three dimensional features of iPhones and iPads.  Cyber-sickness is caused by a disagreement between a person’s eyes and the movement perceived by their balance system.  It occurs when the brain is tricked into believing they are moving while they actually remain still. When things are out of sync, it can trigger nausea, eye strain and dizziness.  The problem is thought to be getting worse as frame rates and display resolutions increase and it is particularly associated with the Apple iOS 7. Symptoms can be reduced by changing the phone’s settings or by looking at the horizon for a few moments.

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7. Harm to eyes:

Eye strain:

Small text and bright screens can strain mobile phone users’ eyes. Since smartphones are designed for reading at close range, users’ eyes must constantly refocus and reposition to process the graphics and text on screen. Symptoms of eye strain include eye redness or irritation, dry eyes, blurred vision, back pain, neck pain, and headaches. Some of the ways to prevent digital eye strain include reducing glare, cleaning the screen, dimming the surrounding lighting that is competing with the device’s screen, keeping adequate distance between eyes and the screen, and increasing text size. Device users are also advised to take breaks from looking at the screen, and follow the “20-20-20” rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes using a smartphone and look at something 20 feet away.

Screen sightedness:

Rates of short sightedness among young people have soared because of smartphones, a leading laser eye surgeon claimed.  David Allamby, founder of Focus Clinics, says there has been a 35 per cent increase in the number of people with advancing myopia (short sightedness) since the launch of smartphones in 1997.  He has warned the problem could increase by 50 per cent in the next ten years.  Mr Allamby thinks the problem is so widespread that he has dubbed it ‘screen sightedness’.  He says that half of Britons own smartphones and that they spend an average of two hours a day using them. This, along with time spent using computers and watching television, is putting children and young people at risk of permanently damaging their sight. According to Mr Allamby, excessive screen watching at close proximity keeps the genes that control myopia activated well beyond the age that short-sight would historically have stabilised – about 21. Myopia used to stop developing in people’s early 20s but now it is now seen progressing throughout the 20s, 30s, and even 40s.

Dry eye syndrome:

When people are concentrating on looking at a screen their blinking rate is reduced by a third. This leads to a higher rate of tear evaporation which is one of the leading causes of dry eye syndrome. This can, eventually, lead to permanent eye damage.

Staring at screens damages the eyes at night: Blue light effect:

A lesser known side effect of texting after dark is vision damage. The culprit is blue light. This member of the full light spectrum is extremely bright, and therefore harmful to look at when lights are off. Blue light is part of the full light spectrum, which means we’re exposed to it by the sun every day. However, nighttime exposure to that light, which is emitted at high levels by smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other LED screens, may be damaging your vision. Our various personal electronic devices emit blue light because it’s so bright. That’s the only way we can see those screens when the sun is shining. But we’ve started to have regular close-up nighttime exposure to this light only in the past 10 or 20 years. Direct exposure to blue light can cause damage to the retina. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation warns that retinal damage caused by blue light may lead to macular degeneration, which causes the loss of central vision – the ability to see what’s in front of you. It should be noted however, that most studies show this effect with the light being held very close to the retina, which may not exactly replicate typical phone use. There may also be a link between cataracts and blue light, though more research is needed.

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8. Smartphone causes injuries:

Palsson reported that injuries to children younger than 5 increased by 10 percent when a city gained access to a 3G network. Palsson was confident that he’d established a valid link between the children’s injuries and parental smartphone use because of the kinds of injuries shown in hospital records. Injuries such as falling down stairs or getting hurt at non-school playgrounds increased, while children remained relatively harm-free in school settings, where teachers aren’t on their phones.

Distracted walking cause injuries:

One study released in January 2014 by researchers at Australia’s University of Queensland found that texting and walking really isn’t as easy as it would seem. The researchers concluded that those who text or read on their phones and walk aren’t as likely to be aware of their surroundings and are less likely to keep their balance or walk in a straight line.

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Smartphone Ergonomics:

In today’s society, working with a smartphone is common practice. However, use of such devices can result in a wide range of injuries, including loss of coordination, muscle control, fatigue, neck, and back pain. There are numerous ways to decrease the probability of injuries, such as external keyboards, proper posture, short breaks, and many more simple tools that can both improve work experience and decrease potential injury. Smartphone users often adopt a posture of slouching over with a hunched back and tilted head—all very dangerous flexed and bent positions. Our back and spine are not designed to hold these unnatural and awkward positions, especially for the long durations these repetitive tasks are often performed. In addition to poor posture, extended duration, and repetition, there are additional elements such as force and recovery time that need to be considered. Force is the strain applied to the body, and recovery time is the amount of time the body needs to rest after being in an awkward position.

Some of the most common injuries from these behaviors include, but are not limited to:

• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

• Cervical Disc Bulge (neck)

• Cervical Postural Syndrome (neck)

• Cevicogenic Headache (headache originating in neck)

• Lumbar Disc Bulge and Postural Syndrome (lower back)

• Thoracic Disc Bulge and Postural Syndrome (mid back)

• Thumb and Wrist Tendonitis

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Understanding the risks and potential consequences of using a smartphone allow for a safer workplace.

Below are simple tips to reduce risk of injury and pain when using a smartphone.

• Use a smartphone that has a full keyboard.

• Learn and use shortcuts, such as those for copying and pasting text.

• Use a neutral grip—straight and relaxed wrists.

• Maintain an upright posture; avoid looking down and rounding the shoulders.

• Type using the pad with fingertips and avoid using fingernails.

• Use a screen protector and keep the screen clean to prevent eyestrain.

• Consider dictation software to decrease typing on the device.

• Take regular five minute breaks.

• Use a hands-free device to eliminate awkward postures during long calls.

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Smartphone and Cancer risk:

Why is there concern that cell phones may cause cancer or other health problems?

There are three main reasons why people are concerned that cell phones might have the potential to cause certain types of cancer or other health problems:

1. Cell phones emit radiofrequency energy (radio waves), a form of non-ionizing radiation. Tissues nearest to where the phone is held can absorb this energy.

2. The number of cell phone users has increased rapidly. As of 2010, there were more than 303 million subscribers to cell phone service in the United States, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. This is a nearly threefold increase from the 110 million users in 2000. Globally, the number of cell phone subscriptions is estimated by the International Telecommunications Union to be 5 billion.

3. Over time, the number of cell phone calls per day, the length of each call, and the amount of time people use cell phones has increased. Cell phone technology has also undergone substantial changes.

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Key Points emerged out of plenty of worldwide studies:

1. Cell phones emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, which can be absorbed by tissues closest to where the phone is held.

2. The amount of radiofrequency energy a cell phone user is exposed to depend on the technology of the phone, the distance between the phone’s antenna and the user, the extent and type of use, and the user’s distance from cell phone towers.

3. Studies thus far have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck. More research is needed because cell phone technology and how people use cell phones have been changing rapidly.

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Why are the findings from different studies of cell phone use and cancer risk inconsistent?

A limited number of studies have shown some evidence of statistical association of cell phone use and brain tumor risks, but most studies have found no association. Reasons for these discrepancies include the following:

1. Recall bias, which may happen when a study collects data about prior habits and exposures using questionnaires administered after disease has been diagnosed in some of the study participants. It is possible that study participants who have brain tumors may remember their cell phone use differently than individuals without brain tumors. Many epidemiologic studies of cell phone use and brain cancer risk lack verifiable data about the total amount of cell phone use over time. In addition, people who develop a brain tumor may have a tendency to recall using their cell phone mostly on the same side of their head where the tumor was found, regardless of whether they actually used their phone on that side of their head a lot or only a little.

2. Inaccurate reporting, which may happen when people say that something has happened more or less often than it actually did. People may not remember how much they used cell phones in a given time period.

3. Morbidity and mortality among study participants who have brain cancer. Gliomas are particularly difficult to study, for example, because of their high death rate and the short survival of people who develop these tumors. Patients who survive initial treatment are often impaired, which may affect their responses to questions. Furthermore, for people who have died, next-of-kin are often less familiar with the cell phone use patterns of their deceased family member and may not accurately describe their patterns of use to an interviewer.

4. Participation bias, which can happen when people who are diagnosed with brain tumors are more likely than healthy people (known as controls) to enroll in a research study. Also, controls who did not or rarely used cell phones were less likely to participate in the Interphone study than controls who used cell phones regularly. For example, the Interphone study reported participation rates of 78 percent for meningioma patients (range 56–92 percent for the individual studies), 64 percent for the glioma patients (range 36–92 percent), and 53 percent for control subjects (range 42–74 percent). One series of Swedish studies reported participation rates of 85 percent in people with brain cancer and 84 percent in control subjects.

5. Changing technology and methods of use. Older studies evaluated radiofrequency energy exposure from analog cell phones. However, most cell phones today use digital technology, which operates at a different frequency and a lower power level than analog phones. Digital cell phones have been in use for more than a decade in the United States, and cellular technology continues to change. Texting, for example, has become a popular way of using a cell phone to communicate that does not require bringing the phone close to the head. Furthermore, the use of hands-free technology, such as wired and wireless headsets, is increasing and may decrease radiofrequency energy exposure to the head and brain.

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Do children have a higher risk of developing cancer due to cell phone use than adults?

In theory, children have the potential to be at greater risk than adults for developing brain cancer from cell phones. Their nervous systems are still developing and therefore more vulnerable to factors that may cause cancer. Their heads are smaller than those of adults and therefore have a greater proportional exposure to the field of radiofrequency radiation that is emitted by cell phones. And children have the potential of accumulating more years of cell phone exposure than adults do. So far, the data from studies in children with cancer do not support this theory. The first published analysis came from a large case-control study called CEFALO, which was conducted in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland. The study included children who were diagnosed with brain tumors between 2004 and 2008, when their ages ranged from 7 to 19. Researchers did not find an association between cell phone use and brain tumor risk in this group of children. However, they noted that their results did not rule out the possibility of a slight increase in brain cancer risk among children who use cell phones, and that data gathered through prospective studies and objective measurements, rather than participant surveys and recollections, will be key in clarifying whether there is an increased risk.

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Sleep disturbance and “blue light at night” have been linked to higher cancer risk, particularly for breast and prostate cancers. In addition to helping us sleep, melatonin also functions as an antioxidant. And while more research is needed, researchers have pointed to “uninterrupted darkness” as potentially protective against cancer. People whose natural melatonin production is suppressed are at a higher risk for a variety of cancers, though a causal relationship has not been found.

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Digital dementia:

A new report out of South Korea — one of the most digitally connected countries in the world — finds that people are using smartphones and gaming consoles so much that their brains are turning into gooey, non-functioning messes. It’s called “digital dementia”……a term coined in South Korea – meaning a deterioration in cognitive abilities that is more commonly seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness. The report claims that young people have become so reliant on electronic devices that they can no longer remember things like their own phone numbers. But wait: If you don’t have to remember phone numbers, doesn’t that mean there’s free space in your brain for other things?  Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul, doesn’t see it that way, telling:  “Over-use of smartphones and game devices hampers the balanced development of the brain… Heavy users are likely to develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side untapped or underdeveloped.”  The right side is where stuff like concentration, memory span and attention live, so if it’s under-developed, you may have trouble with focus or remembering anything.  In addition to messing with memory, over-use of digital devices can also cause one to suffer “emotional underdevelopment,” which means a whole generation (more than 64% of teenagers in South Korea have smartphones) might suffer in ways we can’t begin to imagine.

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Cell Phones and Germs:

Mobile phones not only carry important data, but germs too. The average mobile phone user puts their phone in contact with several places where it can pick up germs. In 2011, researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London found that one in six cell phones is contaminated with some sort of fecal matter, probably because their owners did not wash their hands with soap after using the toilet. Some of the phones were found to harbor E. coli bacteria from fecal origin. If ingested into the body, E. coli can cause fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Recently, students in an Environmental Health course at South University, Columbia sought to find out what germs live on cell phones. Swabbing a sample of 60 phones belonging to students, they found that phones were frequently contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The bacteria might remain confined to the skin, or burrow deeper into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves, and lungs. Basically if your hands are very dirty, then your phone tends to also be very contaminated with the same type of bacteria. So, people are advised to wash their hands with soap and water. They can also use a hand sanitizer, and importantly, clean their mobile phones often using cloths and wipes that are safe to use on devices.  A fairly dry towel can brush off many of the germs. The towel does not need to be very wet, which can be harmful to the device.

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Smartphones and Traffic Hazards:

People put themselves in potentially hazardous situations with their phones in hand. Using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared the percentage of distracted drivers in the United States and seven European countries. According to the study, 69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed. In Europe, this percentage ranged from 21% in the United Kingdom to 59% in Portugal. Meanwhile, 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed. In Europe, this percentage ranged from 15% in Spain to 31% in Portugal. In addition to providing a comparison between those activities in the U.S. and Europe, the study gives insight into the prevalence of self-reported mobile device use while driving. Activities such as texting take the driver’s attention and hands away from driving more frequently and for longer periods than other distractions, making it dangerous. Younger, inexperienced drivers under the age of 20 may be at a higher risk; they have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. But it’s not just drivers causing dangerous situations on the roadways. Pedestrians using cell phones are just as dangerous as drivers using them. A study published in Injury Prevention says that one in three pedestrians is distracted by a mobile device while crossing busy streets. This type of distraction could lead to accidents that injure the pedestrian and/or drivers. Traffic accidents are preventable. By simply putting their phone away while driving or crossing the street, drivers and pedestrians can prevent accidents. They should wait until they are stationary before making a phone call, sending a text message, or sending an email. Studies suggest that drivers using a mobile phone are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash. American website distraction.gov says: “10% of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.”  US statistics show distracted driving crashes accounted for 3,328 fatalities in 2012 and while other distractions exists, because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.’

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Smartphone and sleep:

 

The figure above shows child sleeping with smartphone.

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According to research from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s (RPI) Lighting Research Center (LRC), our electronic backlit devices can seriously affect our sleep cycles. “Our study shows that a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22 percent. Stimulating the human circadian system to this level may affect sleep in those using the devices prior to bedtime,” said Mariana Figueiro, associate professor at RPI and director of the LRC’s Light and Health program. Melatonin is a hormone affected by darkness that lets the body knows that it’s time to conk out for the night; too much light can cause a decrease in melatonin. Using smartphones late at night can disturb sleep due to the bright screen (blue) light affecting melatonin levels and sleep cycles.  Smartphones and tablets can make for sleep-disrupting bedfellows. One cause is believed to be the bright light-emitting diodes that allow the use of mobile devices in dimly lit rooms; the light exposure can interfere with melatonin, a hormone that helps control the natural sleep-wake cycle. But there may be a way to check your mobile device in bed and still get a good night’s sleep. A Mayo Clinic study suggests dimming the smartphone or tablet brightness settings and holding the device at least 14 inches from your face while using it will reduce its potential to interfere with melatonin and impede sleep.

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Smartphones’ Blue Light may lead to Weight Gain as a result of Poor Sleep:

You already know the blue light that emits from your smartphone disrupts production of the sleep hormone melatonin. And as research continues to strengthen the association between sleep deprivation and obesity, it was only a matter of time before a study found smartphones might make people fat, too. The timing of sleep doesn’t only mean a regular, healthy dose of melatonin; it also means a regular, healthy dose of ghrelin and leptin, the hunger hormones. Without sleep, these hormones can be altered, skewing a person’s appetite and encouraging them to overconsume high-calorie foods. Consuming more of these increases risk for belly fat, which then increases risk for diabetes.

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Switching off your smartphone at night makes you more productive:

Researchers have found a link between ‘always-on’ work and drop in productivity. Answering work emails at all hours may seem like productive behaviour but you are robbing yourself of downtime, and risk triggering a downward cycle that could ultimately threatening the very job you’re so busy trying to save. Google considers it a big enough problem that it has dedicated a special team of PhD researchers to gather meaningful data on work/life balance. The gDNA project recently found that 70 per cent of 4000 of the search engine giant’s employees could not resist working on their smartphones and laptops once they had left the office. They were not only checking email all evening, but pressing refresh on GMail again and again to see if new work has come in. Worse, half of this group wants to switch off but can’t. In another study, Consequences of late-night smartphone use and sleep, researchers from Washington, Florida and Michigan State universities found that using smartphones before bed disturbs sleep, negatively affects work and accelerates “ego depletion”, which refers to people’s capacity to self-regulate behaviour and act positively and productively.

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Smartphone can harm Children’s Sleeping Patterns:

According to a new study in the journal of Pediatrics, smartphones will take away sleeping hours from your children if you allow them to sleep with it. The children sleep less on the average compared to kids who sleep without their smartphones, according to the study. The research showed that small screens have a more negative effect in terms of sleep loss compared to big screens. The presence of a TV in the room led to less sleep, but it did not affect the quality of their sleep as they observed, according to the report.

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Adverse impact of smartphone on mental health:

There is countless research on mobile phone use and its influence on the human’s psychological mind, indicating support for mobile phones as good and bad. Referring to the possible negative outcomes of mobile phone use, we may encounter stress, sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression, especially in young adults. Consistent phone use can cause a chain reaction, affecting one aspect of a user’s life and expanding to contaminate the rest. It usually starts with social disorders, which can lead to depression and stress and ultimately affect lifestyle habits such as sleeping right and eating right.

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Can Smartphones reduce Your Creativity?

Yes.

People in their early seventies listened to a story and then were asked to recall as much of it as they could. They then either just sat engaging in “wakeful resting” for 10 minutes or they played a spot-the-difference computer game. Those who had rested for the ten minutes after learning the story remembered a lot more of it half an hour later than those who had played the game. Amazingly, and more importantly, these effects lasted a full 7 days. And it wasn’t the case that they were frantically rehearsing the story while supposed wakefully resting—debriefing afterwards showed that very little of that went on. These effects, known as consolidation were an automatic process of laying down the memory that goes on in the resting brain, but not the computer—dazzled one. Creative solutions to problems are more likely to come when your mind is wandering than when it is focused on a task like thumbing through a thousand tweets. Numerous studies and much accepted wisdom suggest that time spent doing nothing is beneficial for sparking and sustaining creativity. With our iPhone in hand – or any smartphone, really – our minds, always engaged, always fixed on that tiny screen and our creativity suffers….Spending so much time texting and updating, tweeting and watching, calling and playing at every free moment, from every location, we are never alone with our thoughts, never allowing our thoughts to drift, impacts our creativity, which in turn can limit our full potential. Recent research has indicated that smartphone use actually teaches our brains to become bored more easily by eroding our ability to focus, driving a vicious circle in which constant stimulation reduces our ability to entertain ourselves which in turn pushes us to seek out yet more intense stimulation and so on. We have to balance our need for smartphone-enabled productivity with our desire to keep our creative impulses alive.

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NoMoPhobia:

Nomophobia- fear of being without your smartphone- affects 40% of the population. Losing your iPhone isn’t as bad as losing a limb, but it can feel that way, suggests new research from the University of Missouri. In a paper titled “The Extended iSelf,” researchers built on the theory that people see their cell phones as part of themselves. Phone separation anxiety — something other researchers have called “NoMoPhobia,” or no-mobile phobia — leads to increased blood pressure and heart rate, and decreased performance at mental tasks. It also stoked anxiety in study subjects, and a feeling that an important part of themselves was missing.  The “Extended Self Theory,” which holds that people can see external objects as an extension of themselves, and feel somehow incomplete without them. The theory that objects can become so familiar to people that they feel like parts of their body will not sound new to musicians or athletes who use tools like a baseball glove. The process has been called “embodiment.”  External objects become viewed as part of self when we are able to exercise power or control over them, just as we might control an arm or leg. The point is that when we are able to exercise power or control over our possessions, the more closely allied with the self the object becomes. It’s no surprise that an experienced carpenter would eventually feel that their hammer is an extension of their hand. In fact, that can be seen as a healthy, and even beautiful, manifestation of practicing an art craft. And maybe you feel like your phone is that important to your daily work. It seems more likely, however, that this is a bad thing. Phone attachment sounds more like a compulsion that an art. Users in the study reported being on their phones 3.5 hours each day. That helps them stay “constantly connected to the world and therefore feel less alone.” That doesn’t sound healthy. Now Americans are bringing their smartphones into the bedroom. That’s right — texting while having sex. A recently released study indicated one in ten participants admitted to having used their phone during sex. As far as young adults, ages 18 to 34, make that one in five — 20 percent. A University of Southern California study found that the unprotected adolescent sexual activity was more common amongst owners of smartphones. The bedroom isn’t the only intrusion the smartphone is making into supposedly private, sacred moments, either. The 2013 Mobile Consumer Habits found 12 percent use their beloved devices in the shower. Worse still, more than 50 percent acknowledged they still text while driving, despite the fact that this is six times more dangerous than driving drunk. It used to be that a ménage à trois was three people engaging in consensual sex, but in this high tech world, that third person is being replaced by the smartphone.

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What is Smartphone Addiction?

Recently, there has been a lot of research regarding electronics and the impact they have on our brain activity. A lot of people view Smartphone addiction as something to joke about, but it is a problem that many people suffer from. Scientists also claim there may be a genetic variation that enables some people to be prone to these types of addictions. Smartphone addiction is often fueled by “Internet Use Disorder” or “IUD”. The American Psychiatric Association claims that a person suffering from “IUD will experience ‘preoccupation’ with the internet” and suffers from withdrawal if the Internet is removed. Smartphones allow continuous mobile access to the Internet, which leads to cementing Internet addiction in people. People with IUD have measurable changes in their brains. The connections between the cells and regions that “control attention, executive control, and emotion processing” are impacted. These changes mirror what happens in the brain connections of people who are addicted to chemical substances like cocaine. Other studies have measured changes in how “the brain’s dopamine system operates”. Dopamine is a product of our body that is responsible for “allowing us to experience pleasure and reward”. Researchers are starting to notice a correlation between people who suffer from Internet disorders. The addicts may have less dopamine receptors in parts of their brain or their dopamine functions might be compromised. Studies on the affects of texting in teenagers, arguably the first demographic to fully embrace the new method of communication, concluded that the concrete social anticipation combined with the chemical reward that came with receiving, opening and replying to the message was what made it so addicting.

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According to the Pew’s Internet Research Project over 90% of Americans own a cell phone with a whopping 58% owning Smartphones. If those numbers aren’t startling, consider that the Pew research shows:

•“67% of cell owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice the phone ringing or vibrating.”

•“44% of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night.”

•“29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as ‘something they can’t imagine living without’.”

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A 2014 study asked 164 college students about their smartphone use: Women spent an average of 10 hours a day on their phones and men logged more than seven hours. The researchers asked about specific activities on the phone and found that social media apps, such as Instagram and Pinterest, engendered the most addiction-related responses. Indeed, social media addiction is another recent area of study for researchers.

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According to a 2011 study published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, people aren’t addicted to smartphones themselves as much as they are addicted to “checking habits” that develop with phone use — including repeatedly (and very quickly) checking for news updates, emails, or social media connections. That study found that certain environmental triggers — like being bored or listening to a lecture — trigger the habits. And while the average user checks his or her smartphone 35 times a day — for about 30 seconds each time, when the information rewards are greater (e.g., having contact info linked to the contact’s whereabouts), users check even more often.

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The figure below shows that internet addiction, smartphone addiction, social media addiction and checking habits are all inter-connected in internet use disorder.

However, non-internet component of smartphone addiction would include excessive use of smartphone games and camera.

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Experts say that as many as 6 percent of smartphone users could be termed addicts. According to a Rutgers University study, being addicted to your Blackberry is similar to being addicted to drugs. No wonder the device was coined “crackberry.” It’s a tough habit to break. Forty-nine percent of people say they keep their email devices nearby when they sleep so they can listen for new messages. A 2012 study from Baylor University in the UK found that mobile phone addiction is driven by the same impulses as credit card overspending and compulsive buying. Prior research has found that young adults send an average of nearly 110 text messages a day and check their email 60 times a day on average. A separate 2011 study conducted by the University of Maryland’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda recorded reactions when it asked university students around the world to abstain from media for 24 hours, with students reporting cravings, anxiety and depression during the media fast.

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While smartphones have made life easier for some, psychologists say the love of them is becoming more like an addiction, creating consequences that range from minor (teenagers who communicate in three-letter acronyms like LOL and BRB) to major (car accidents caused by people who text while driving). Merlo, a clinical psychologist, said she’s observed a number of behaviors among smartphone users that she labels “problematic.” Among them, Merlo says some patients pretend to talk on the phone or fiddle with apps to avoid eye contact or other interactions at a bar or a party. Others are so genuinely engrossed in their phones that they ignore the people around them completely. “The more bells and whistles the phone has,” she says, “the more likely they are to get too attached.” Michelle Hackman, a recent high school graduate in Long Island, NY, won a $75,000 prize in this year’s Intel Science Talent Search with a research project investigating teens’ attachment to their cell phones. She found that students separated from their phones were under-stimulated and a low heart rate was an indicator and lacked the ability to entertain themselves. Most of the teens at Hackman’s affluent high school own smartphones, she says, and could even be found texting under their desks during class. “It creates an on-edge feeling and you don’t realize how much of the lecture you’re missing,” Hackman says. For some, the anxious feeling that they might miss something has caused them to slumber next to their smartphones. More than a third of U.S. adults 35 percent now own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center, and two-thirds of them sleep with their phones right next to their beds. Michael Breus, a psychologist and sleep specialist, said in his clinical practice, his patients often describe how they answer emails, text and surf the Web as they’re trying to wind down at night. He says this is a bad idea. “This behavior can increase cognitive arousal,” he says, “leading to the No. 1 complaint I hear: ‘I can’t turn off my mind and fall asleep’.” Trouble sleeping isn’t the only problem smartphones junkies exhibit. Some people are willing to do almost anything to feed their addiction including spending more money for the data plans than they can afford. According to J.D. Power and Associates, the average smartphone user spends about $107 each month for wireless access more than the average household pays for electricity each month. And consumers’ dependence on mobile phones is only expected to grow as people use their phones for things like shopping and banking.

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Dr. Greenfield is founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, one of the few places in the world that specifically treats smartphone and technology addiction, as well Internet, video game, and pornography addiction. “When we’re engaged in these digital technologies we’re not doing other things that may be important for our lives, whether its exercise, socializing or work”, says Dr. Greenfield, before going on to explain that the ever-present nature of smartphones and our “hyper-vigilance” towards them elevates stress hormones and is “not good for productivity or physical health”. He describes the smartphone as the “smallest slot machine in the world” because of the variable-ratio reinforcement schedule. When your phone rings or buzzes you can’t predict what it will be, if it’s an important email, a text from someone you love, or maybe a winning score for your favourite football team, you get a pleasurable neurochemical hit of dopamine.  ”It can start as a minor irritation for family and friends,” says Professor Reed, a psychologist at Swansea University. Some smartphone owners are reporting broken sleep patterns where they’re actually waking up to check the Internet, email, or social media. At the extreme there are people spending 60-70% of their waking life on the Internet for non-work-related purposes. “Perhaps 6-10% of people display some signs of Internet addiction,” says Reed, “it’s a behavioural addiction like gambling or pornography.” It may not have the same physiological consequences as something like alcohol or drug addiction, but smartphone addiction works the same way Dr. Greenfield explains, “irresistible urges, inability to stop using compulsively, withdrawal when you don’t have it, and increased tolerance which leads to using it more and more.” Both Greenfield and Reed have found classic withdrawal symptoms in Internet or smartphone addicts. They report pronounced negative mood swings, irritability, frustration, feeling disconnected, and a fear of missing out. “You also see some physiological changes,” says Reed, “increased blood pressure and increased heart rate, which indicates that people are using it like a sedative, or an escape.” The good news for most of us is that withdrawal lasts a matter of hours or days. Whereas a cigarette addict craves nicotine, smartphone addicts crave something to fill those moments of “forever empty,” as Louis C.K. called it. Those idle moments when we’re overcome by a fatalistic feeling that “it’s all for nothing and you’re alone.” The smartphone addiction is similar to one of the reasons why teenagers become addicted to cigarettes. There is peer pressure. The next time you leave home, notice how many people are talking on their phones, sending text messages, or checking emails. These activities are common. While high school may be over, you may still have desires to fit in with the majority of the population. You may also want to keep up to date on technology trends and therefore desire the latest gadget. Psychiatrist and psychotherapist Dr Anjali Chhabria says that smartphone addiction has definitely increased in the past few years and it is something which probably is the target of companies manufacturing the phones today. “Coming to it from a usage point of view, everyone’s need for a phone varies so does everyone’s time spent on the phone. Having more facilities and accessibility does tempt individuals to use it more than required, for some individuals, it can be an addiction. The reason behind this addiction could be lack of impulse control and restlessness. We have seen quite a few cases of smartphone addiction especially amongst teenagers,” says she. In his practice, consultant psychiatrist Dr Milan Balakrishnan has found that low-self esteem is a risk factor for such addictions. “Parents come forward with a child who is lost in his/her phone to an extent that he does not interact with parents or siblings. He/she does not interact or meet with friends except in his virtual world,” says he. There are a wide range of smartphone functions, including Internet use, online gaming, digital cameras, and GPS navigation. And you can use these functions anywhere and at any time. But these various convenient functions are contributing factors to excessive use which leads to addiction.

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Smartphone ‘Addiction’ may affect Adolescent Development: 2013 study:

The greater the overuse of smartphones, the greater the risk for severe psychopathologies in adolescents, new research suggests. The study of nearly 200 adolescents in Korea showed that those who were very high users of smartphones had significantly more problematic behaviors, including somatic symptoms, attentional deficits, and aggression, than did those who were low users. In addition, the investigators note that the effects of smartphone overuse were similar to those of Internet overuse. Internet use gaming disorder has been included in Section 3 of the just-released fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the section of the manual reserved for conditions considered worthy of further research. “Regardless of addictive patterns, our results showed that the more addicted that youth were, the more severe their psychopathologies were,” study investigator Jonghun Lee, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the Catholic University of Daegu School of Medicine in South Korea says.

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A new study from Korean researchers noted the negative psychological consequences of excessive Internet use, including imbalance of real-life relationships, sleep, work, and education; increased aggression, hostility, and stress; problems with verbal memory and attention; maladaptive coping strategies; and surprise, surprise, loneliness. The study investigated smartphone and Internet addiction among 448 university students (178 males and 270 females) in Seoul. The researchers measured, via a series of questionnaires, the severity of students’ Internet and smartphone addictions, while also assessing their mood, their anxiety, and their personality. In general, males were found to be more addicted to technology than females, however, when it came to smartphones, this pattern was reversed. Nevertheless, a trend common to be sexes was anxiety levels and neurotic personality traits increased with addiction severity levels. Once again, this study, due to the low number of participants, could not be considered definitive. Yet, the study does add a little more anecdotal fuel to the flames. “The present findings on personality are highly consistent with previous studies,” wrote the authors in their conclusion. “A study on Internet addiction among Chinese adolescents reported that the Internet-addicted group scored higher in the neuroticism and psychoticism dimensions” when compared to control participants.

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There are simple indicators that you’re a smartphone addict:

1. You can’t go five minutes without checking your inbox.

2. You have more than five email accounts.

3. You respond to messages on your Blackberry in the middle of the night.

4. When your inbox says, “no new messages,” you hit the refresh button just to make sure.

5. Checking email constantly is also a way to prove you’re “always on top of things,” and can respond instantly.

6. Feeling anxious whenever you do not have your phone in your physical possession.

7. Phantom cellphone vibration syndrome is real, and it’s a symptom of addiction.

8. You’re not listening. In fact, you have no idea what the person in front of you is talking about because you keep checking your Facebook page, tweets and texts.

9. Failing in School. Poor grades can often be blamed on using the smartphone in classes.

10. Running to the store for 30 minutes and halfway there you realize you forgot your phone and you must turn around to get it.

11. Withdrawals: If you completely freak out, and go through withdrawals when your phone is out of your site for just a few minutes, you may have a problem. Withdrawal symptoms include pronounced negative mood swings, irritability, frustration, feeling disconnected, and a fear of missing out.

12. Keeping it close: If you charge your phone next to your bed, or sleep with your phone in your bed, you may need an intervention.

13. Justification: You justify the need to be on your phone all the time, with the excuse that you may miss a work email. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

14. Tidy Phone: If you manage and take care of your apps better than your own home, you might need to rethink your priorities.

15. Search: You freak out that you can’t find your phone, only to find it in your hand or pocket.

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Solutions to smartphone addiction:

First step is to admit that there is a problem and confide in your near and dear ones. The best way to curb this addiction would be learning to prioritize and time management. People often do not realise when they are meeting friends, conversing with people, in meetings, etc. they are so engrossed in their phone, that they are being disrespectful to the other person. Also, if people think they cannot control their urge to use their phone, they should switch off their phone or put it on silent and keep it in a place where they do not keep looking at the screen. Start maintaining a diary to track your cellphone use and enter them as things that were urgent and those that were just to escape boredom or because of craving. Keeping track itself will help you cut down. Start cutting down on use. First try and reduce the least important activity and continue to taper down while maintaining a log. Learn to switch off your phone or at least turn it to silent at night unless you’re in a job that has night time emergencies. You don’t have to reply to every mail or comment on every status update immediately. You can allocate a time of the day when you will do that. Downgrade to a simpler phone without elaborate functions. If all this fails seek professional help as it maybe a mask for more serious psychological problems.

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A couple of reports published suggested we unlock our phones anywhere between 110 and 150 times every single day. That’s a lot of checking, often done habitually without any deliberate thought or goal. Not only is the time you spend gazing at your mobile time you could use doing something else, incessant phone checking interrupts whatever you were doing—be it working, chatting to a friend or watching a movie—and makes it difficult to get back on track. Are you ready to break free from your smartphone addiction and claim some of your valuable time back?

There are effective remedies for you to try out.

1. Turn off notifications

2. Uninstall unnecessary apps

3. Activate Airplane Mode

Airplane mode blocks incoming SMS messages and phone calls which means you’re unavailable if someone really, really needs to get in touch with you, but you might consider it a price worth paying. As you may remember, humankind managed to get by for several millennia before the invention of the smartphone, so it’s possible that you can survive a few hours of interruption-free time.

4. Keep phone away.

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Smartphone, children, teens and students:

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Children’s Smartphone & digital media use and possible concerns:

Numerous harmful issues have been associated with children’s smartphone & digital media use. These include:

1. Children’s Eye Health:

As parents are spending more time using digital media, so are their children, and the children might be suffering from the side effects of overuse, like their parents. This includes digital eye strain (red, dry or irritated eyes; blurred vision; or eye fatigue); back, neck and shoulder pain; and headaches. Excessive exposure to the use of smartphones at an early age can also trigger poor eyesight for kids.

2. Brain Development:

Our brains are designed to be effective when a socially interactive environment stimulates curiosity and exploration. Because it is possible that excessive childhood involvement with digital media limits children’s social interaction, this could hinder children’s brain development and have negative effects on their overall development. The use of smartphones exposes children to the practice of clicking or jumping from one option to another that trains them to gather small chunks of information. This habit may be harmful to kids’ overall brain development. They will be trained to switch from one topic to another quickly and it will be hard for them to focus and concentrate on just one big chunk of information when the situation calls for it.

3. Sleep Problems:

Studies have started showing an association of smartphone use with sleep problems in preschool-aged children. The studies revealed that the length and timing (daytime versus evening) of screen time and the content of smartphone affected the amount of the increase in sleep problems.

4. Attention Problems:

Research suggests that the use of digital media might have an effect on children’s attention skills, such as increasing hyperactivity and difficulty in concentrating.

5. Late Academic Achievement:

Studies suggest that excessive media use (video games) at an earlier age is associated with lower academic achievement later in life.

6. Social Development:

Children who spend more time with media devices reportedly have lower levels of personal contentment and have a tendency to get in trouble more often. They also report feeling more sad or bored than their counterparts. Smartphone games and applications designed for kids can actually discourage them from interacting with other kids and people around them. Traditional playtime may eventually be a thing of the past with the presence of all these highly technological games.

Smartphones bad for children’s social skills?

Children’s increased use of smartphones and tablets could hinder the development of parts of their brain that affect social skills, a psychology researcher said. Parents who use phones and iPads as a substitute for their own interactions are compromising the development of the attention center of the brain. The parts of the brain that determine attention span can be severely limited if boredom is immediately alleviated rather than endured. The early years of childhood (4 to 10 years) are when the brain is most susceptible to suggestion and molding. Parents who use these devices as a means of escaping awkward situations are compromising their children’s ability to cope in the future.  More than 70 percent of children under the age of 8 use a smartphone weekly and 28 percent of parents use technology as a parenting supplement, according to a 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics study. Parents use the bright screen of a cellphone to save the family from lengthy tantrums and public embarrassment. Parents who give their children devices to prevent outbursts are practicing a don’t-think-twice attitude that ignores proven child-rearing techniques. More confrontational methods of parenting increasingly are abandoned because the results are not immediately apparent. The effects of a tablet or phone, on the other hand, are immediate but not permanent. Kids shouldn’t be entertained all the time, it isn’t a reflection of how the world works or should work.

7. Physical Development and Obesity:

Digital media use might take time away from play and physical activities. It has been reported that a child who spends more than four hours a day watching television is more likely to be overweight than one who watches less than two hours. Children’s excessive use of digital media might limit necessary physical challenges to their bodies in order to achieve optimal sensory and motor development. Online and video games are terribly addicting so it is highly likely that kids will spend hours playing on smartphones if they get hooked on a particular game. Thus, they might be discouraged from getting up from their seat and going out to play with you or their friends. They can get overweight or develop other body ailments that may arise from inadequate physical activities.

8. Language Development:

Studies have shown that the use of digital media could delay children’s language development, especially for children age 2 and under 2.

A Possible Benefit:

Although scarce, a few studies have found that high-quality educational programs with a specific goal to teach academic skills can have benefits for children older than 2 years, but not for children younger than 2 years. There are now even several apps designed for preschool age children. Many parents have claimed to have witnessed positive educational effects. There are some advantages to kids having computer and smart phone access. Some data tells us that computer games can help kids with ADHD, hand-eye coordination, and there are also some associations between computer use and literacy and numeracy skills in young children. People are social creatures. While young children are probably free of the intoxicating social anticipation of the smartphone, and the smartphone has a superficial dimension of interactivity that TV lacks, the fact remains that it discourages social interaction, which needs to be squeezed in at every possible moment with children. Well-adjusted children need to be used to being in tune with their surroundings and free from unnatural digital distractions, because that’s how young children have developed through the millions of years of human evolution. Touching, talking and physical playing and movement remain the only way to make sure a child will reach his or her full developmental potential. You’d be surprised how quickly a 4- or 5-year-old can learn to go to YouTube on a smartphone and zone the hell out like the rest of us; it really is only a matter of touching a shape.

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Parents glued to Smartphones have ‘More Negative’ interactions with their Kids:

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that adults absorbed in their mobile devices were more likely to harshly scold their children’s behavior. Researchers from Boston Medical Center observed parents interacting with their children during meals in fast-food restaurants. They noted that one-third of the adults used their phones continuously during the meals, and 73 percent of them checked their devices at least once. When a parent who was glued to the phone was interrupted by a child, the parent was apt to react negatively, according to the study. One mother even kicked her child under the table after the child attempted to get her attention while she tapped away at her smartphone. Another mother ignored her child as he tried to lift her head from looking down at a tablet. Researchers believed the kids may have been acting out as a way to test limits or gain the parent’s attention. Before we go pointing the finger at all parents who use their smartphones during meals, let’s keep in mind that most of us have trouble putting the mobile devices away. One British survey found that 66 percent of people are afraid to be separated from their cell phones. Another study by Time noted that 84 percent of respondents said they couldn’t go a single day without their cell phones, and 20 percent said they check their phone every 10 minutes. There’s even evidence that more and more people are using smartphones during sex. Still, researchers say their study of the effects of smartphone addiction on the parent-child dynamic is particularly important because it could have consequences for a child’s development. “We know from decades of research that face-to-face interactions are important for cognitive, language and emotional development,” Radesky told Health Day. “Before mobile devices existed, mealtime would’ve been a time where we would’ve seen those interactions.” Researchers say additional studies and further discussion about the use of technology around children are needed.

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One-Third of Children under 2 have used Smartphones, Study says:

A new study by Common Sense Media has revealed a startling increase in the use of mobile devices among young children, raising serious questions about the long-term effects of the trend. In a survey of 1,463 parents, the media-monitoring group found that the number of very young children using smartphones and tablets has shot up in the past year. According to the study, 38 percent of children under 2 have used a mobile device for media, up from only 10 percent two years ago. Common Sense Media founder and CEO Jim Steyer says that this is disconcerting, considering the American Academy of Pediatrics’ warnings against any digital media screen time for children at that age. The reason is, there’s clear evidence about some of the potentially damaging effects on development.  And also there’s no evidence that any learning happens via media up until the age of 2. While television is a still a dominant force in children’s media, daily minutes with it are down as handheld, all-in-one devices make their way into kids’ entertainment and education.

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Lock your kids’ smartphone if they ignore your call:

Parents, please note. If your kids ignore your calls, use this app to lock their smartphones immediately to get their attention back. Called “Ignore No More”, the app promises to help parents get control back over their child’s phone. Just install the app on your phones and your child’s phone. Tap the kid’s name and enter a four-digit code to lock their device. When the smartphone is locked, kids can’t “text, surf the internet, play games or look at Facebook”. What they can do is call the parent back to get the password to unlock their phone. It is not about punishing the child — it is a tool to try and correct the behaviour.

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Smartphone and teens/students:

Smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive. One in four teens are “cell-mostly” internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phone and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer. These are among the new findings from a nationally representative survey in 2013 of 802 teens ages 12-17 and their parents which shows that:

•78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of those own smartphones. That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011.

•One in four teens (23%) has a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.

•Nine in ten (93%) teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.

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Adverse impact of smartphones on teens/students:

•Excessive use of smartphones, especially at nighttime, may cause teenagers to develop sleeping problems.

•Smartphones can be costly for parents. From data packages to cellular service, in-app purchases to online gaming, and cell phone accessories to music downloads, it adds up fast!

•Smartphones present a huge distraction in classrooms, where teachers are forced to compete for students’ attention. Most teachers ask their classes to put phones away or set them to “silent,” but students are inevitably tempted to look at the smartphones.

•Some teenagers believe that smartphone dependency may be making them more lazy and preventing them from unlocking their potential.

•Federal privacy laws don’t fully protect kids, so the information they send and receive through their smartphones can be sold. This has prompted calls for reform legislation.

•New and young drivers are particularly susceptible to driving while distracted by their cell phones. This has led to an upsurge in car accidents involving teenage drivers.

•Smartphones have been implicated in a number of high school cheating scandals. Students can surreptitiously look up information on their phones or even text answers to their classmates.

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In a survey of 100 students at Dongguk University, about 50% of the students use their smartphones more than five hours a day and 68% rated themselves as being addicted to their phones. The main purpose of the students’ smartphone use was to chat with friends, play games and read news. 70% of the surveyed students feel anxious when their phone’s battery is running out or when they cannot update applications. Moreover, 77% of the students answered that their smartphones caused distraction when they study or work. 16% reported that they had experienced fraud related to smartphone, such as fake application (which secretly takes user’s money or private information). This survey shows that most of the students are spending a lot of their time using smartphones and are likely to be addicted to it.

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Smartphones Impact on Today’s students:

Today, smartphones are in the hands of almost every student. It has become so common that young children are starting to ask their parents for one. Although nobody can deny the ability to find and use information fast on a smartphone, many people feel students should not have one. These smartphones are effecting verbal communication, writing skills, as well as increasing laziness in our students. Verbal communication is increasingly becoming a problem in today’s society and it is because of smartphones. Our generation is known as the “texting generation”. These days, students talk to their friends using text messages or calling. This takes away our ability to talk to someone face to face. It affects college graduates not being confident enough to present themselves properly in an interview with a future employer. Texting interaction leaves out basic skills like, clear speaking, body language, eye contact with the person to whom they are speaking too, and the ability to listen and stay focused on what the person is saying. More and more these days students go to their phones or computers when needing to write an essay. Students search Google and various other search engines to help find the most up to date information, although the information is handy and very tempting, it is creating pure laziness in today’s society. These smartphones contain encyclopedias, dictionaries and as we all know, the internet. There is no exerted effort into collecting this information, students are too lazy to read a book and quite frankly, some just don’t have time. Also, students are being distracted by cellphones. It is causing lack of focus and discipline. Often times students will sit down to study and all of the sudden hear their phone go off, and they’ll get self-indulged into the conversation and no longer continue to study.

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Smartphone, society and social impact:

There is an enormous impact of the mobile phone on contemporary society from a social scientific perspective. In the book Perpetual contact: mobile communication, private talk, public performance, the author James E. Katz, PhD, writes: “They have transformed social practices and changed the way we do business, yet surprisingly we have little perception on their effect in our lives.” Some people are replacing face-to-face conversations with cybernetic ones. Clinical psychologist Lisa Merlo says, “Some patients pretend to talk on the phone or fiddle with apps to avoid eye contact or other interactions at a party.” In a survey made by Gazelle, “More than 25% of respondents reported that they “almost always” use their smartphone while in a social setting such as during a meal or during a party. In addition, 58% said they use it ‘usually’ or ‘occasionally’ during these settings.”  Laura Perlow, author of book “Sleeping With Your Smartphone,” surveyed thousands of workers in high-pressure environments, from investment banking and management consulting to staffers working at not-for-profit organizations. In her research, Perlow found that:

•70% check their phones in the morning within just one hour of getting up

•56% check their phones before going to bed

•48% check their phones over the weekend

•51% constantly check their phones during vacation

•44% reported they would feel very anxious and irritable if they don’t interact with their phones within a week

“While most [executives] perk up at the idea of more time off, they quickly point out how impractical that is in their day-to-day lives,” Perlow writes. She notes that the need for a constant connection is driven by important business reasons—say, being available to offer an immediate response when customers are unhappy. People are substituting, on a grand scale, the valuable experience of chatting with people face-to-face with simply sending them a text that consists of a few words and abbreviations. The real time reaction isn’t there; there is a sense that there is a lack of reality, which has been replaced by a virtual reality. This evidently results in people who don’t know how to act when they’re not using their cell phones.

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Survey of 2014: 17% of Americans would give up best friend for smartphone:

Some Americans are so attached to their smartphones that they’d rather temporarily lose a best friend than have their device taken away. That’s one of the slightly disturbing findings from a survey commissioned by Motorola Mobility and B2X Care Solutions, which polled more than 500 smartphone and tablet users in America. The companies found that 17 percent of women would give up their best friend for a week instead of their smartphone. It’s unclear what the statistic is for men, but it would be similar. At first glance, it is a bit startling to hear that about 1 in 6 Americans would ditch the best friend for a gadget. Though given how much some of us rely on a smartphone, the statistic is not all that surprising.

Other findings from the survey:

•74 percent keep their smartphones within reach throughout the entire day

•60 percent sleep with their phones and that number increases to 84 percent in the 18-29 year olds demographic, while their European counterparts are more likely to keep their devices in the next room

•53 percent keep their phone sound on even while they sleep

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One-Third of Americans would give up Sex, not Cell Phone:

According to new research commissioned by The Boston Consulting Group, nearly 1/3 of Americans would rather give up sex for a year than part with their phones for the same amount of time. Sex isn’t the only thing Americans would give up for their phones. Over 55% said they would stop dining out for 12 months instead of parting with their phones, and 45% said they would postpone their vacations. 46% of those surveyed said they would give up a day off work per week just to be able to maintain a connection with their phones. The survey consisted of 1,003 Americans who were interviewed between September and November of 2014. The research done in America is part of a broader study of mobile technology that Boston Consulting commissioned. Consumers in Brazil, Germany, South Korea, China and India were also asked to participate, making up a total sample size of 7,500 people. The addiction to our phones is also felt in other parts of the world. One-quarter of Brazilians were willing to give up sex for their phones, while 60% of South Koreans admitted they would. Close to 66% of those surveyed in India and 55% of the Chinese participants said they would rather give up a day off work for a year than part with their mobile phones.

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Smartphone adversely affects interpersonal relations:

A University of Essex study found that the presence of a cell phone also interferes with our ability to form close interpersonal connections. In one lab experiment, researchers paired volunteers who had never met and had them take turns discussing an interesting personal event that occurred in the past month. Half the conversations took place with the experimenter’s cell phone sitting on the table. In the other half, a small spiral notebook was sat on the table instead. Afterward, participants in each pair evaluated their experience, and the results were striking: Subjects who spoke while a cell phone was in view perceived their partner as less understanding and less trustworthy. They were also more skeptical that further dialogue with their partner would yield a close friendship. A follow-up study conducted at Virginia Tech confirmed that it’s not just people’s impressions of a partner that dip in the presence of a cell phone. It’s the actual quality of their conversations. “In the presence of a mobile device, there is less eye contact,” lead author Shalini Misra observed. That makes both partners more likely to miss subtle changes in each other’s expression or tone.

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Your friend’s smartphone can tell that you’re lying:

We are nearing a point where our smartphones will be able to recognize a face or voice, in real life or on-screen. And identification is only the most basic of the possibilities. Many app-makers are experimenting with software that can also analyze – able to determine someone’s emotions or honesty just by a few facial cues. This interpersonal assessment technology promises to make our lives easier. For instance, facial recognition technology can allow people to get immediate and amazing customer service. If a restaurant or retailer can identify me before I walk in the door, it would be able to identify me as a returning customer, accessing my favorite dishes or products. I would be greeted like an old friend (whether I were, or not). Similarly, algorithms are now being developed that link thousands of facial cues with human emotions. Our brains do this naturally – we know without asking whether someone is happy or upset based only on their expressions. Law enforcement and poker players take this a step further, using facial cues to determine someone’s honesty. But with technology augmenting our brain’s natural behavior – possibly providing direct, measurable and verifiable input – we can produce measurable and verifiable data. As sensors move from our smartphones to activity trackers to smartwatches from Apple and Samsung, we are measuring more than ever and are not far off from continuously tracking our emotions. And software is now in development to interpret people’s emotions, then project the results via an app onto a screen such as Google Glass. Technology can also analyze the human voice to determine emotion – again, not just mimicking, but surpassing our brain’s abilities. Moodies, an app developed by Beyond Verbal, is able to detect a speaker’s mood based on nothing more than a voice. Worldwide call centers are testing the technology to help operators determine whether callers are upset and likely to switch their business to a competitor. There are also some potentially negative consequences. If you can simply run a person’s image and voice through an app to determine their emotions and veracity, we will have to adjust as a society. Many of our daily interactions are built on small lies: “So happy to see you”, “Of course I remember you,” and “This is the best (food, activity or place).” In other words, society’s function is smoothed by little white lies – do we really want to eliminate that? As we uncover our deceptions – implicit and explicit, including those of which we have convinced even ourselves – a market for technology that hides our emotions will arise. Entrepreneurs may create “emotion-cloaking devices.” Facial coverings may become more popular. Perhaps there’ll be sanctuaries where no devices are allowed, either by custom or law — an atmosphere akin to how we now feel about taking pictures in public bathrooms and kids’ classrooms. One thing is for sure: politics is in for a major overhaul. With every smartphone possessing a virtual lie-detector test, elected officials will need to be creative in the ways they talk to us. In fact, the most insecure and most powerful politicians will resist, and quickly seek to regulate or restrict these technologies — ignoring their obvious good — in a hidden but discoverable attempt to preserve their own power and half-truths. Ready or not, technologies are quickly arriving, which allow us to assess other people to a degree of accuracy we never before imagined. While by no means a cure for Alzheimer’s — at least in the disease’s early stages — facial recognition software could supplement a sufferer’s slowly deteriorating memory and help recall acquaintances, friends and loved ones. Before we rush to decry these assessment technologies, we must also consider their incredible array of benefits.

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Smartphone is changing Social Norms:

Email:

Our obsession with smartphones is altering social norms. Take emails, for example. For the growing American population, “the social expectation is that one is nearly always connected and reachable almost instantly via e-mail” if they own a smartphone. Analysts say the smartphone “is the instrument of that connectedness – and thus worth the cost, as both a communications tool and a status symbol.” Because of this, the current social norm is that people should reply to emails immediately, or at least within a few hours. Gone are the days when you could wait a full day to reply to an e-mail, or respond to a text message on a several-hour delay, without violating new and rapidly evolving social norms.

Disrespectful behavior:

New social norms also include becoming tolerant of disrespectful behavior.  James Thickett, the director of research for Ofcom of the UK, said the high level of smartphone use in venues such as the movies raises an issue about social etiquette and modern manners and the degree to which we as a society are tolerant of this behavior.

Relationships:

Surveys also show that smartphones are having a negative effect on marriage and relationships. In a 2010 NPR Facebook query, many couples complained of equal phone overuse from both genders, which marriage therapists also agree to it. Also, because these addictive devices create such a distraction, they are taking couples away from what matters most: trust, intimacy, and simple time spent together. Many couple are now choosing to designate a “technology-free hour, evening or day to make time for old-fashioned conversation” and to remind each other there are other things to do beside stare at a smartphone screen.

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Smartphone of future and future of smartphone:

With data transmission rates reaching blistering speeds and the incorporation of Wi-Fi technology, the sky is the limit on what smartphones can do. The future of smartphones is 4K, 64-bit and 55MP cameras. Possibly the most exciting thing about smartphone technology is that the field is still wide open. It’s an idea that probably hasn’t found its perfect, real-world implementation yet. Every crop of phones brings new designs and new interface ideas. No one developer or manufacturer has come up with the perfect shape, size or input method yet. The next “killer app” smartphone could look like a flip phone, a tablet PC, a candy bar or something no one has conceived of yet. Perhaps the most challenging consideration for the future is security. Smartphones may be vulnerable to security breaches such as an Evil Twin attack. In one of these attacks, a hacker sets a server’s service identifier to that of a legitimate hotspot or network while simultaneously blocking traffic to the real server. When a user connects with the hacker’s server, information can be intercepted and security is compromised. On the other side, some critics argue that anti-virus software manufacturers greatly exaggerate the risks, harms and scope of phone viruses in order to help sell their software. The incredible diversity in smartphone hardware, software and network protocols inhibit practical, broad security measures. Most security considerations either focus on particular operating systems or have more to do with user behavior than network security.

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In 2013, the Fairphone company launched its first “socially ethical” smartphone at the London Design Festival to address concerns regarding the sourcing of materials in the manufacturing. In late 2013, QSAlpha commenced production of a smartphone designed entirely around security, encryption and identity protection. In December 2013, the world’s first curved-OLED technology smartphones were introduced to the retail market with the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Round and LG G Flex models. Foldable OLED smartphones could be as much as a decade away because of the cost of producing them. There is a relatively high failure rate when producing these screens. As little as a speck of dust can ruin a screen during production. Creating a battery that can be folded is another hurdle. Samsung fully foldable phones are expected around 2016 to 2017. A clear thin layer of crystal glass can be added to small screens like watches and smartphones that make them solar powered. Smartphones could gain 15% more battery life during a typical day. The first smartphones using this technology should arrive in 2015. This screen can also work to receive Li-Fi signals and so can the smartphone camera. The cost of these screens per smartphone is between $2 and $3, much cheaper than most new technology. Near future smartphones might not have a traditional battery as their sole source of power. Instead, they may pull energy from radio, television, cellular or Wi-Fi signals. In early 2014, smartphones are beginning to use Quad HD (2K) 2560×1440 on 5.5″ screens with up to 534 ppi on devices such as the LG G3 which is a significant improvement over Apple’s retina display. Quad HD is used in advanced televisions and computer monitors, but with 110 ppi or less on such larger displays. As of 2014, Wi-Fi has continued to become the primary network for smartphones. As these devices do more and more with data and Wi-Fi becomes more prevalent and easier to connect to, Wi-Fi First smartphones service will start to take off.  Since 2013, water and dust-proofing have made their way into mainstream high end smartphones instead of specialist models with the Sony Xperia Z continuing through the Sony Xperia Z3 and also from other manufacturers with the Samsung Galaxy S5. One problem with smartphone cameras is still the focus, but LG G3 Beat with Laser Focus has 8 points of focus. To focus what appears in the LCD, touch the object on screen to focus on it and the other positions will be ‘bokeh’.  Some smartphones now can be categorized as high-end point-and-shoot cameras with large sensor up to 1″ with 20 Megapixels and 4K video. Some can store their pictures in proprietary raw image format, but the Android (operating system) 5.0 lollipop serves open source RAW images. Modular smartphones are projected, in which users can remove and replace parts.

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At MWC 2014, Kyocera had a idea, with a few of its concept devices: a tablet that could bend in half and fit in your pocket, and a smartphone that could be worn as a bangle. EmoPulse, which CNET first caught wind of as an Indiegogo project, got one step closer to this bangle idea with its Smile bracelet. The device, which looks like a chunky glass band wrapped around your wrist, is supposed to be a fully functional smartphone, and is envisioned to have a Linux-based OS, an OMAP 5 processor, and 4G capabilities. And if this idea doesn’t look appealing to the mobile phone industry, perhaps it will to the smartwatch business. The Samsung Gear Fit, for example, may not have a glass panel that fully wraps around your arm, but it does feature a small, curved AMOLED touchscreen. As smartwatches advance with each iteration, we could easily enter an era in which we ditch the black-and-rectangular aesthetic, and move onto something completely wearable and flexible. Of course, we’ve already seen James Bond-esque wristwatch phones from a few manufacturers like LG, but they’ve been exclusively released in Europe and Asia. And future phones won’t be limited to the wristwatch form: You’ll be able to bend, fold, and shape your phone to whatever design you prefer. Imagine transforming your phone from a wristwatch/bracelet style to a touchscreen style with a full QWERTY keyboard, and then folding it again to slip it into your pocket. A good example of what future wearable phones could look like is the Nokia Morph, a concept device that showcases the collaboration between the Nokia Research Center and the Cambridge Nanoscience Centre. The Morph uses nanotechnology to create a flexible, malleable electronic device. The Morph is constructed from fibril proteins that are woven into three-dimensional mesh, allowing the whole phone–screen included–to move and bend. Morph offers users the option of wearing it as a wrist watch or unfolds it to use as a typical handset as and when required. It all depends on the task the users are engaging with.

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Foldable smartphone:

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Wearable Technology vis-à-vis Smartphones:

When it comes to emerging technology, ‘wearables’ may be the talk of the town these days. But don’t throw away your trusty smartphone. It may become the driving force behind wearable technology such as glasses, watches and clothing. Wearables are miniaturized mobile technology embedded in glasses and watches, even woven into clothes. But wearable technology can run into the trouble of computing power and battery life. There just isn’t enough space, experts say. That’s where the smartphone comes into play. Maybe wearables will become mere sensors and displays that send and receive information to and from the smartphone, which, in turn, does the heavy lifting and manages the connection to cloud services. The smartphone-as-server device would be a significant shift from the evolution of smartphones. By offloading processing and connectivity onto a smartphone, the cost of wearables will be cheaper. In the future smartphone-wearables relationship, a single smartphone can handle multiple wearable devices.

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Google patents a Smartphone-Laptop Combo; could be Android, Chromebook Device:

Google has been working on a combination laptop/cell phone device that could mean Chrome OS and Android are finally beginning to be merged. Google was granted a patent that reveals a device reminiscent of the Motorola Atrix and Bionic, with their laptop docks. The concept is the same but the smartphone would dock into the laptop in a similar fashion to Asus Padfone series. This was an interesting concept with the Bionic, but it didn’t work as well. US patent 8,649,821 was filed all the way back in September of 2012. It doesn’t mention any particular operating system, but some kind of a Chrome OS/Android hybrid seems like a no-brainer. The patent shows a laptop that uses the cell phone’s data connection to get online. The laptop also uses the cell phone’s microphone and speaker when the user wants to make VoIP calls or for any other voice functions. The phone will tap into the laptop’s speaker, and will probably be able to use the laptop’s battery to charge as well. Padfones haven’t been a massive success, but they definitely provide some extra functionality for less cost than buying a separate tablet and smartphone. This is a similar concept. The difference is that the laptop in the patent appears to work independently of the companion cellular device. The Padfone tablet doesn’t work without the Padfone smartphone docked in it. This new Google concept would be two separate devices that both work by themselves. The laptop would only need the cell phone if the user wanted a wireless data connection and wasn’t near Wi-Fi.

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Expandable flexible screens:

Samsung made a bit of a splash last fall with its Galaxy Round, a smartphone with a curved screen. It’s a clever though incremental innovation in smartphone displays, for which improvements primarily have been limited to higher screen resolution. However, what if form factor wasn’t an issue? What if your 5-inch smartphone screen could be expanded to seven, eight inches or more? It may soon be the case where smartphones are able provide a large screen to watch and play your favorite movies and games while maintaining a pocketable size. Screens can be folded and unfolded, all thanks to Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) technology. This paper-thin screen can even project future-features-smart-phones/ from both sides of the screen, so you can show pictures or videos to your friend on one side while using the other as a control.

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Experts of the company SEL demonstrated new creation – a prototype touchscreen, named after the developers, SEL. It is foldable and thus is based on a matrix OLED, positioning in large measure to the touchscreen size. Screen SEL received 8.7 inches diagonal and a pixel density of 254 pixels per inch, which corresponds to the resolution of Full HD, or 1920×1080 pixels. During the demonstration, the developers really have lay down the screen three times and it fully retained its efficiency. Another important detail: display weighs only 6 grams with a thickness not exceeding 100 micrometers, and it was developed specifically for use in mobile devices. At the moment, the idea is at the stage of concept. So far, the SEL is testing new creation, and not reported date of mass production. Panel, as it became known, will be produced in smaller sizes, so you can install it in smartphones.

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In-Built Projector:

If flexible screens are not enough to compensate for the small screens on smartphones why not integrate a projector within? Samsung Galaxy Beam was released back in the second half of 2010. It features a built-in DLP (Digital Light Projection) WVGA projector that is able to project future-features-smart-phones/ at up to 50 inches in size at 15 lumens. What good will this do? Well, for one thing, future smartphones can actually be turned into interactive gaming consoles without a need for a TV screen; all you’ll need is a flat surface. Instead of a physical controller, you can use your body or your voice. Similar to Kinect, a smart camera and a voice control function can capture your movements and voice commands to let you interact with objects and future-features-smart-phones/ on the projected screen. Of course, you can imagine the drainage rate on your smartphone’s battery life and there’s also the other issue with luminance i.e. the amount of light it outputs. In-built projectors for smartphones must be small, and as the paradox sits: the smaller the projector is the lesser light it will be able to give out. With better technology though, issues such as these will be addressed in time, making projectors a part of a new experience you can now engage with your smartphone.

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Smartphone upgradation:

New smartphones are released about every five minutes — or so it seems. Near-constant upgrades may be great for companies and the economy — not to mention the 401(k) plans of millions of people who benefit from the relentless growth of technology juggernaut Apple — but it’s plainly not great for the planet. The average life of a phone is something like 18 months — and that is an older statistic, so it is probably even less.

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Upgradeable smartphones:

As it stands, smartphones (and tablets) are designed, marketed, and sold as consumable devices. You buy a smartphone, chew through its storage and battery for a couple of years, and then throw it away when your two-year contract comes up for renewal. Carriers love this, of course, because it keeps you locked into an incredibly lucrative contract. As far as manufacturers are concerned, the two-year upgrade cycle represents the most orgiastic piñata whacking ever devised — just look at Apple’s record profits, which stem almost entirely from monumentally massive iPhone sales. Do any of your other gadgets get upgraded every two years? Maybe your laptop, if you’re rich, but otherwise the consumer electronics upgrade cycle is usually nearer four or five years. If smartphones were upgradeable, there would be significantly less reason to buy a new one every couple of years. If you could simply slide in a new processor, RAM, and battery, your smartphone’s useful life could be extended almost indefinitely — just like a PC. Likewise, if carriers and manufacturers didn’t leave older devices to languish with old versions of iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, then consumers would have very little reason to upgrade. In both cases, though, the consumer would end up buying less phones — and so it isn’t really surprising that neither the manufacturers or carriers are attempting to improve either the hardware or software situation.

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Google to launch modular smartphone with switchable parts:

Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone will go on sale in Puerto Rico this year in a trial of the concept that hopes to replace the traditional model of the disposable smartphone with an upgradable one. The Ara smartphone shell consists of a frame into which nine or so modules can be inserted, adding, removing or upgrading functionality without having to buy a new smartphone. The frame is designed to last five to six years. Over 20 different modules from connectivity including Wi-Fi and 3G or 4G modules, to a new screen, new cameras, new speakers, faster processors, more storage or even health-monitoring devices for measuring blood glucose will be available by launch. The modules should make upgrading a smartphone over the lifetime of the frame cheaper than buying a brand new smartphone. Each module will held in by magnets and swapped on-the-fly, allowing the functionally to be changed for what is needed at the time, whether that’s a smartphone with twice the battery capacity to last longer or one with twice the processing power for intensive applications. However it’s not economically viable for any vendor to manufacture a phone and to provide software that will allow users to select components. When manufacturers create a traditional smartphone, the software be it Android, Windows Phone or another operating system, has to be tuned to the specific components within the device, the camera, the processor, the memory or any other piece of hardware. Those that fail to do so properly produce a poor, bug-ridden and frustrating experience for their users, who see their phones malfunction. To be able to manufacture a phone that will work with different components without any problems when users change them about is a major issue. For a project like Ara to be successful they need to test every single component in every combination, which is not an easy task, especially when you are talking about different components from different manufacturers. The most tantalizing future-tech concept has to be the completely customizable modular handset.

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Smart-watch:

A smartwatch is a computerized wristwatch with functionality that is enhanced beyond timekeeping. While early models can perform basic tasks, such as calculations, translations, and game-playing, modern smartwatches are effectively wearable computers. Many smartwatches run mobile apps, while a smaller number of models run a mobile operating system and function as portable media players, offering playback of FM radio, audio, and video files to the user via a Bluetooth headset. Some smartwatches models, also called watch phones, feature full mobile phone capability, and can make or answer phone calls. Such devices may include features such as a camera, accelerometer, thermometer, altimeter, barometer, compass, chronograph, calculator, cell phone, touch screen, GPS navigation, Map display, graphical display, speaker, scheduler, watch, SDcards that are recognized as a mass storage device by a computer, and rechargeable battery. It may communicate with a wireless headset, heads-up display, insulin pump, microphone, modem, or other devices.

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Smart wristband turns your arm into a touchscreen:

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A tech company out of France has come up with a mart bracelet that projects a touchscreen onto your arm. The Cicret Bracelet works by way of a tiny embedded projector and a series of proximity sensors and similar to the tech behind projected keyboards, the Cicret system detects the location and movement of your fingers, essentially turning the surface of your skin into a touchscreen. The device, which allows the user to tap, swipe and pinch, is designed to run a standalone version of Android, or it can be paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth. Built-in Wi-Fi provides connectivity, and there’s a micro USB port as well. Cicret also makes the Cicret App, a security program that provides anonymity and encryption options for mobile devices.

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Smartphone with Privacy Screen:

It would be great to see handsets that have adaptive, almost transformative capabilities, a smartphone that can change itself to fit certain needs and environments. For example, a built-in privacy screen, one that appears and disappears when needed, would be perfect for fending off curious eyes from my handset’s display. This technology already exists in laptops, like the Dell Latitude e6400. It uses special software that overlays a distorted pixel-based pattern across the screen. This narrows the display’s viewing angle from the sides, and can be turned off at the touch of a button. The feature would be especially handy when you are on a public transportation. Instead of huddling near a corner, worried that someone is peering over and seeing your sensitive emails, you could stand freely, knowing that only you can read what’s on the screen. And if you later decided to quickly have a few friends watch a YouTube clip on your phone, you could reset the viewing angle to its original, wider setting. Another adaptive feature could finally answer consumers’ often expressed, but seemingly contradictory desires to have a sleek and slim handset that also has a physical keyboard for messaging. In 2013, California-based Tactus Technology designed a prototype touchscreen in which a roomy QWERTY keyboard can bubble up to the surface of the display, and flatten out when not in use. This is possible thanks to a non-toxic fluid that pushes against the surface of the screen, and creates a physical bubble-shaped button. Though the technology itself is still in its prototype stages, having this available on every smartphone would mean you could have a more natural, comfortable experience while texting.

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User Identity:

With facial recognition and Biometric identification round the corner, smartphones could well become your identity in the future. It could also be used for surveillance purposes.

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Global Language Translation feature:

In future there will be language translator available on Smartphone which will be able to translate any global language to its users. It will not only make people to connect a larger community but also help them in communicating for making better social contacts. It will connect whole world using a single device and internet connectivity.

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Augmented Reality (AR) in smartphone:

The term ‘augmented reality‘ or AR when used in the context of computer technology refers to what we perceive through our senses (usually sight) enhanced through the use of computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics and GPS data. Simply put, AR makes available more information for us users by combining computer data to what we see in real life. Using the camera on your phone, you can point it somewhere ‘live’ to get an information overlay of where you can find the nearest cafes or dining places, for example. Smartphones being portable serve as a good platform for AR to work. You can just whip out your phone to get the latest and relevant info for what you are searching for – information which you would otherwise have to call and ask or search online before heading out of Wi-Fi coverage. Most AR apps available now utilize some form of Global Positioning System (GPS) to facilitate location searches and this feature is likely to develop further over the next couple of years because of its potential. So why isn’t it in all smartphones yet? It seems that the primary limiting factor is the limited recognition accuracy for ‘live’ views when we point our camera lens at places, buildings or even people. For AR to work seamlessly and reliably, the technology for recognizing places, things or people must be of a certain standard.

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The oPhone:

Cinemas have had Smell-O-Vision, where odours are released during a film so you can literally ‘smell’ what’s happening on the screen, and now smartphones users are set to get a similarly whiffy experience. Scientists in Paris have developed a new kind of handset, named the ‘oPhone’, that can send scents to the person on the other end. Basically, the device allows ‘oNotes’ to be sent using Bluetooth and other smartphone attachments, which then release aromas that are created by computer chips inside the handset. These ‘virtual odours’ are certainly a fun concept – for example, you could send a photo of some flowers to a loved one which they can ‘smell’ as well as admire, or give your friends overseas an authentic ‘whiff’ of what that freshly baked batch of cookies smells like. The initial four chips contained in the oPhone can apparently be combined to produce thousands of different odours lasting for twenty to thirty seconds, in what makers have called a ‘revolution of odour’.

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Seamless Voice Control in smartphone:

Voice control has been receiving much attention since Siri made headlines. Voice control has existed in many earlier mobile phones even though the voice recognition function was crude at best. Research has been made to advance the development of voice control, but it has proved to be a paramount task. Siri might have signaled a breakthrough to the way voice control and recognition programming ought to be made. Instead of recognizing commands via sound waves like most voice-recognition systems, Siri interprets diction and syntax in a similar fashion to how we recognize speech. Such Natural Language User Interfaces prove to be more effective and accurate. The interest with voice control for computers and especially smartphones has always been there since the pioneer MIT research, “Put That There” studied different ways to communicate with computers in 1980. With the newly improved voice recognition app, Siri, as well as the greater capabilities of smartphones in the years to come, seamless voice control seems to be a viable goal. That, combined with gestures may bring interactivity to a new level for smartphones and their users.

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3D Screens in smartphone and 3D Hologram projection:

Smartphones may have already reached the peak for their screen resolution with Apple’s ‘Retina Display‘, which actually provides a resolution that is sharper than what the human eye can perceive. Yet, even then, we still want more. Mobile companies are now moving from 2D future-features-smart-phones/ to 3D future-features-smart-phones/ for the smartphone screen. At present, we have a couple of 3D smartphones in the market, such as the LG Optimus 3D, the Motorola MT810 as well as the very first Samsung AMOLED 3D. So what happens after 3D? Well, the next path could possibly be holographic projections. In essence, holographic projections will mean a combination of 3D future-features-smart-phones/ and projections from the smartphone. According to Mobiledia Network, MasterImage 3D had previously showcased their ongoing development on a projection system that allows smartphones to display 3D holograms at the annual Mobile World Congress. A mobile phone used to be a simple device for texting and calling. Then it became a smartphone boasting of Internet and camera functionalities. Now, the smartphone can be converted into a microscope through an attachable lens that can help magnify the object. One might wonder what the future would be like with a smartphone capable of projecting 3D holograms floating into thin air. If you want to talk about the potential of holographic projections in smartphones, it’s great. 3D displays can be integrated with elements of movements when it comes to user interactions with the phone. For example, you can resize your photos by using your hands to ‘pull’ or ‘compress’ the holographic photos that appear in front of you, move objects by ‘grabbing’ them from one place to another, etc.

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Holographic Video Calling:

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you called someone, and they appeared in the room you’re present? This is where holographic video call technology steps in and with 4G and 5G technology on its way it could certainly be the next big thing in future.

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Air display touchscreen known as Displair:

Touchscreen interfaces are everywhere. But Displair is one that you don’t actually have to touch. The interactive display projects digital content onto a sheet of humidified air. In ideal lighting — a darkened room — the display is quite clear. However, it is easily interrupted by outside light. It’s sensitive to gestures, just as a normal touchscreen, but the varying resolution can make it seem sort of ghost-like depending on your angle. Displair makes a quiet hum as it expels humidified air for the screen, but only uses about as much energy as a laptop (under 500 watts).

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Li-Fi smartphone:

For a few years now, engineers and scientists have tinkered with an alternative to Wi-Fi that utilizes not radio waves, but light: specifically, light from light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. This quietly gestating technology, Li-Fi—unlike Wi-Fi, it’s an actual abbreviation, for light fidelity—may be ready for a serious look. It’s also called VLC, or Visible Light Communication. Wysips layer is capable of Li-Fi (Light Fidelity) data transmission in addition to solar charging; it can send and receive data through light waves. Put your phone under a Li-Fi light and it can send data through the screen.  Not only did a recent New International market forecast predict that the Li-Fi industry would be worth $6 billion in less than five years; Li-Fi devices debuted at CES this year allowed users to both establish an internet connection via light waves, and, in an arguably more intriguing application, to use an app to transmit data directly from lights outfitted with the technology. And now, for the first time, there’s even a Li-Fi smart phone. The Li-Fi transmitter, developed by the French company Oledcomm, could leave QR codes in the dust. Instead of sending you to a link to a designated page online, with Li-Fi, you hold your iPhone up to a lamp and instantly play a video or read a file. If that sounds far-fetched, it’s not—any LED bulb can be converted to transmit Li-Fi signals with a single microchip. And the technology is ready right now; it’s being installed in museums and businesses across France, and is being embraced by EDF, one of the nation’s largest utilities. Meanwhile, the wireless internet access shows promise, too—it could eventually prove faster than Wi-Fi, and it’s more secure. Since light doesn’t pass through solid objects like radio waves do, only users in the line of sight can link up. “It is a new way of communication,” Cedric Mayer, co-founder of Oledcomm, said. He says the government is already interested in the technology, because lighting is cheap, and because it emits no radiation—a genuine political concern in Europe.  Li-Fi works by harnessing the visible light spectrum to deliver data, in rapid fire bursts that go unseen by the human eye. Li-Fi is both faster and more secure when compared to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which use radio waves. Li-Fi can reach speeds up to 3.5 gigabits per color, meaning a Red-Green-Blue (RGB) LED light could produce Li-Fi speeds of up to 10.5gbps, or 10 times faster than Wi-Fi. Much like Wi-Fi allows wired connections to become wireless, Li-Fi spreads out Fiber Optic data, which already uses light to transmit at high speeds. Don’t expect to get wireless Internet from your house lights anytime soon, but in a demo showed how putting the phone under a light could automatically open a video, webpage, or app.

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Operate smartphone on car dashboard: hands-free operation through voice commands ensure safe driving:

Apple and Google have a different vision for the future of in-car computing: they want their smartphone platforms to totally replace these proprietary systems.  Google and Apple each introduced new platforms, called Android Auto and CarPlay, respectively. The key idea is to outsource the brains of that in-dash touchscreen to your smartphone. That means you get the same polished interface that powers iPhones and Android smartphones, and these capabilities will improve as smartphones get more powerful. Android Auto is a telematics standard developed by Google to allow mobile devices running the Android operating system (Lollipop and later) to be operated in automobiles through the dashboard’s head unit. The standard will offer drivers control over GPS mapping/navigation, music playback, SMS, telephony, and web search; both touchscreen and button-controlled head unit displays will be supported, although hands-free operation through voice commands will be emphasized to ensure safe driving. The aim of Android Auto is to extend the functionality of an Android mobile device in an automobile to the dashboard’s head unit. In order to use the system, users must be running Lollipop on their mobile device and must own a vehicle supporting Android Auto. The driver’s Android device connects to the vehicle via USB cable.  Rather than running its own operating system, the head unit will serve as an external display for the Android device, which runs all of the software, by presenting a car-specific user interface built into Lollipop. CarPlay is a standard developed by Apple Inc. to allow devices running the iOS operating system to function with built-in display units of automobile dashboards. If you’re excited about CarPlay and Android Auto but don’t want to buy a new car, you’re in luck. At CES multiple vendors have announced aftermarket devices that support the standard. Parrot, for example, is offering a touchscreen unit that supports both Android and iOS devices and will fit in most cars currently on the roads. Pioneer is also offering a range of car stereo systems with support for both platforms.

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Mobile cloud computing (MCC):

Mobile cloud computing is referred to as the infrastructure where both the data storage and the data processing happen outside of the mobile device. MCC can be defined as a rich mobile computing technology that leverages unified elastic resources of varied clouds and network technologies toward unrestricted functionality, storage, and mobility to serve a multitude of mobile devices anywhere, anytime through the channel of Ethernet or Internet regardless of heterogeneous environments and platforms based on the pay-as-you-use principle. From a consumer’s point-of-view, a cloud-based mobile application is similar to an app purchased or downloaded from a mobile application store like iTunes, where the processing power is driven not from the handheld device, but from the cloud. When launched from the iPhone homescreen, the apps perform like any other app on the iPhone. Google’s Gmail and Google Voice for smartphone are just two of the well-known mobile cloud apps. The key to mobile’s future depends on the processing power of the cloud itself. Cloud-based mobile apps can scale beyond the capabilities of any smartphone. Cloud apps have the power of a server-based computing infrastructure accessible through an app’s mobile interface. It does not only allow non smartphone owner to access the same mobile applications, but allows the apps themselves to become more powerful.

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Even though the new generations of smartphone provide higher computation power and more storage space compared to their previous generation, they still fall short to the growing demand of computation power and storage space. Additionally, the battery industry is not as progressive as the telecommunication and semiconductor industries. Though, we saw a significant development in processing capacity and memory in a smartphone, it is still limited by its battery life. There is always a trade-off between the computation capacity and battery life. Portability, storage space and battery life are the main characteristics of a smartphone. The functionality and form-factor are dependent upon each other as more powerful a smartphone be, bigger battery it needs. Processing speed and storage capacity is inversely proportional to battery life which limits smartphones as a replacement for laptops and tablets. The advent of cloud computing in smartphones eradicated the computation power, storage and battery constraints that limited smartphones from running PC like capabilities. It made smartphones scalable in terms of storage and processing capability. Shared resources, storage, hardware and software are the peculiar characteristics of cloud computing which made the smartphone motto work anywhere anytime. Thousands of new applications are being developed every day which are one of the main energy consuming components in smartphones. These applications not only maximized the software capability but also minimized the hardware limitation in a smartphone. The cloud computing minimizes the energy needed for running computation intensive applications in smartphones as it offload the same. Cloud computing also increases device reusability factor as functionalities in the smartphones are based on the cloud expendability and not the hardware. Hardware free computation is another factor that makes cloud computing unique. This reduces frequent hardware updates and thus reduces electronic waste leading to sustainable mobile computing.

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Pitfalls of mobile cloud computing:

Some of the potential pitfalls to mobile cloud computing is the lack of internet speed and access. Also, mobile cloud computing presents challenges already inherent in PC and Notebooks such as security breaches, and viruses’ attacks, and it is thus important to have identity authentication as well as controlled and secured access.

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What comes after the smartphone?

The Internet of Things (IoT) and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) will come after smartphone as technology advances. They’re the next places that these big tech companies are heading. If the last ten years were dominated by the rise of the smartphone and its ecosystems, the next is probably about IoT & ADAS, and whatever other acronyms we come up with to describe the multiplicity and diversity of these tiny gadgets. A wearable puts a computer on your wrist, sure, but IoT is putting a computer everywhere, and the ways industry has been talking about that gigantic shift have been terminally boring and easy to ignore so far. That needs to change. These devices are inherently creepy to some, but they’re beginning to look inevitable. It’s possible to build these systems with some modicum of privacy and safety. Samsung is at least approaching the ecosystem with the right attitude — it purchased SmartThings and is keeping that company’s dedication to openness and interoperability intact.

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My view on whether smartphone can replace PC (desktop/laptop):

Let me begin by saying that smartphone works as a phone while PC cannot work as a phone. PC plays CD/DVD while smartphone cannot play CD/DVD. Advancement in technology has made many pitfalls of smartphone obsolete. Low power processor is replaced by gigahertz processors. Advanced voice recognition and voice dictation has obviated use of small touchscreen keyboard.

So can smartphone replace PC?

Let me begin by showing a webpage from my website on my 15 inch laptop (PC):

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This is a screenshot of 1/3 of the webpage of http://drrajivdesaimd.com/?page_id=3224 seen on PC screen.

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Now I see the same webpage on my smartphone having 4 inch screen.

This is actually 1/6 of the webpage seen on my PC. But I can hardly read anything.

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I zoom in to enlarge text size to make is readable like PC.

This is 1/12 of the webpage seen on my PC screen. Now I can read as good as PC.

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In other words, in order to view webpage http://drrajivdesaimd.com/?page_id=3224 on smartphone, I have to read 12 smartphone screen contents to perceive the webpage which I can read on a single PC screen.

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Theoretically, you can calculate number of screen content of smartphone needed to read the entire text of any webpage on PC by following formula:

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You can read the text clearly without any strain on eyes at about one and half feet away from screen of PC (15 inch screen). Now you try to read the same text on your smartphone of screen size 4 inch. You will find only half of text on screen and you have to strain eyes to read it and you have to read it at half feet distance from your eyes. If you increase text size by using multi-touch capacitive screen by using two fingers spreading, you will find that you can read text as easily as on PC but number of words would be too few. So you have to keep moving webpage to read the whole content. This is the greatest limitation of smartphone which cannot be overcome by today’s technology. Contents can be viewed and read with ease, and comprehensive content can be accessed from single screen appearance on PC. The same data can be read and viewed on smartphone but webpage need to be moved constantly to gather comprehensive content and comprehensibility is achieved only through piece-meal data gathering. Not only your eyes but even your brain is stressed to assimilate data coming in piece-meal. The smartphones’ small screen size can make it difficult to view and properly display materials and as a result there is a high risk of reducing learning performance due to increased cognitive load. Remember, human eyes and human brains are same no matter whether screen size is 16 inch or 4 inch. I quote from “Theory of bio-socio-techno disharmony” posted is my article ‘science of love’ on my website. I have always felt that there is a disharmony between how we behave and how we are biologically programmed. There is rapid development in science and technology in last 200 years and human biology cannot change so fast to adapt to technological revolution and the social development mediated by technology. Biology has not been able to keep pace with technology and social development. Biology lags behind technology and social development. I have discussed in my article on ‘Obesity’ that obesity epidemic started in last few decades and since human genes & biology cannot change in such short time, the root cause of obesity is poor life-style choices like lack of exercise coupled with overeating of processed food, both available through technology. Technological innovation of 4 wheeler, 2 wheeler, computer, electrical appliances etc made physical work much less and technology made processed food available with high calorie content, highly palatable and cheap. Biology could not cope up with lack of physical work coupled with processed food resulting in obesity epidemic. The same logic applies for smartphone use. Smartphone screen of 4 inch is a technological innovation which makes us see the world through it. However, genetically and biologically, our eyes and brains are not tuned to see and understand the world through a small window of 4 inch. Enormous strain is put on eyes and brain when we try to assimilate information through 4 inch window. Trying to read entire webpage through 4 inch window is unnatural, unintelligent and counter-productive as information reaching brain in piece-meal will make it harder to understand. If you have a human whose eyes and brains are 4 times powerful than average human; only then screen size of 16 inch can be equated with screen size of 4 inch. Therefore smartphone can never become PC when you are trying to gather lot of data and understand lot of data. However smartphone is portable, pocketable and connected to internet 24 hours so that you are constantly in touch with world wherever you go 24 hours. This cannot be achieved on PC. Human-PC interaction is correlated with assimilation of comprehensive data while human-smartphone interaction is correlated with constant connectivity to world. Quantity and quality of data is a function of human-PC interaction while continual connectivity is a function of human-smartphone interaction. The advent of cloud computing in smartphones eradicated the computation power, storage and battery constraints that limited smartphones from running PC like capabilities. The key characteristics of new mobile devices are bigger, faster, or cheaper. Screen size of 5 to 7 inch is possible on phablet but still it is not comparable with PC screen size of 15 inch. Also as phablet becomes larger, less pocketable it becomes. Expandable flexible screen may be up to 7-8 inch but cannot become as large as PC screen. In-built projector can project smartphone screen content to 50 inches but luminance and resolution would be poorer compared to PC screen. New technology of wireless contact lens displays will allow information, such as text messages from a mobile phone, to be projected onto a contact lens worn in the human eye has been developed by researchers. However text message is much smaller data than a webpage you see on PC screen. Therefore wireless contact lens display of smartphone cannot overcome handicap of smartphone screen size, not to mention all the side effects of wearing a contact lens. For the sake of argument, someone may say that smartphone screen can be mirrored on TV screen or Google Glass can enhance smartphone screen content and therefore limitations of smartphone 4 to 5 inch screen can be overcome. Well, it is illogical as you are using another full-fledged device to help smartphone. The comparison between smartphone and PC is one to one. Therefore I see no technology in near future that can match smartphone screen with PC screen. Mobile cloud computing can equate computation power and storage of PC with smartphone but no technology can equate screen size of PC with smartphone. Doctors, engineers, scientists, researchers, technocrats, intelligence agencies etc need data in better quality and large quantity for their work and therefore need PC for it. Lay people do not need so much data and therefore smartphone would do function of PC. In a nutshell, smartphone can replace PC for lay people.

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Final comments on smartphone:

If you are a smart person and want to remain smart, use dumbphone rather than smartphone because smartphone will make you dumb. On the other hand, if you are a dumb person, smartphone will be a great help.

Here are reasons:

1.  Constant web browsing has diminished the brain’s ability to sustain focus and think interpretively.

2. Overuse of smartphones impairs memory so much that you can no longer remember things like your own phone numbers. To transfer information from short-term to long-term memory, the brain requires periods of rest. In a world where every free moment is spent refreshing email or responding to text messages, there are fewer opportunities for long-term memories to form.

3. People are not using their brain to answer a question or solve a problem but rather turn to their smartphone for every single question.

4. Using and looking at the smartphone constantly makes us use our left brain (logical, linear thinking) because that side of the brain deals with language and reading. Using the smartphone constantly can effectively keep us ‘locked’ on left brain mode for the majority of the day. This means that our brain is ‘out of balance’ and we are not allowing our right brain to engage. The right side of the brain (creativity, intuition) allows thinking “out of the box”, coming up with creative ideas, and solving problems using our intuition.

5. The average person looks at their smartphone 9 times an hour. Productivity research tells us that we don’t actually multi-task, but that we switch tasks – our brains move from one task to the other and back and forth quickly – so quickly we “think” we are doing two things at once. This research further tells us that when we are switching tasks, we are actually doing both tasks at about 70% of our capacity. Every hour smartphone users interrupt what they are doing to look at their phone multiple times (admittedly it might not be nine times an hour, as the usage might be higher at home or during leisure activities). And every time we stop and “check our phone”, we are switching our brain from the task it was on to a different one, causing us to lower our effectiveness on the initial task. The phone that is supposed to help our productivity is hurting it more than it is helping. Email is a convenient way to communicate, but trying to answer messages while also completing other work makes us measurably less intelligent. Glenn Wilson, psychiatrist at King’s College London University, monitored employees over the course of a workday and found that those who divided their attention between email and other tasks experienced a 10 point decline in IQ.

6. Consider what happens when a new message arrives in your inbox. Unless you’ve changed the default settings on your email, you are treated to a pop-up message, the sound of a bell, or a counter that signals your growing number of unread messages. Each time this happens your brain is forced to make a series of decisions—”Check email or keep going?” “Respond now or later?”—that drain your mental energy. These disruptions add up. Studies indicate that even brief interruptions exponentially increase our chances of making mistakes. This is because when our attention is diverted, we use up valuable cognitive resources reorienting ourselves, leaving less mental energy for completing our work. Research also suggests that frequent decision-making causes us to tire. The resulting fatigue makes it harder for us to distinguish tasks that are truly important from those that simply feel urgent.

7. Consider the findings of a study in issue of Social Psychology, examining how the “mere presence” of a cell phone—even when it is not being used—influences people’s performance on complex mental tasks. Within the study, participants were asked to quickly scan a row of digits and cross out consecutive numbers that add to a pre-specified total (for example, any two numbers that total 3). Before they started, half of participants were asked to put away their phones. The other half were asked to place their phones on their desk, ostensibly so they could answer a few survey questions about its features. Not a single cell phone went off during the experiment. Yet compared to those whose phones were stowed out of view, participants whose phones sat on their desk performed nearly 20% worse. Why would the presence of a silent cell phone inflict such a heavy toll? One possibility is that years of cell phone usage has conditioned us to anticipate the arrival of new messages. Consequently, even when our phones sit perfectly still, simply having it in our peripheral vision tempts us to split our attention, leaving less mental firepower for our work. So our problem-solving execution that suffers.

8. The ready availability of search engines is changing the way we use our memories. When people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it. It’s good to know where to find the information you need—but decades of cognitive science research shows that skills like critical thinking and problem-solving can be developed only in the context of factual knowledge. In other words, you’ve got to have knowledge stored in your head, not just in your computer.

9. Spending so much time texting and updating, tweeting and watching, calling and playing at every free moment, from every location, we are never alone with our thoughts, never allowing our thoughts to drift, that impacts our creativity, which in turn can limit our full potential. Creative solutions to problems are more likely to come when your mind is wandering than when it is concentrated on a task like thumbing through a thousand tweets.

10. Excessive smartphone use leads to deterioration in cognitive abilities in brain resulting in digital dementia.

11. People favor to use their smartphones for recreation rather than work and productivity.

12. Need for instant gratification by accessing social media constantly and texting non-stop results in deflating our motivation to focus, to participate, to engage, to wonder and to inspire.

13. Smartphone causes distraction to students in their class & studies resulting in poor education. Handy information on smartphone makes student lazy to read books.

14.  Smartphones have replaced face to face interaction with texting. Texting interaction leaves out basic skills like clear speaking, body language, and eye contact with the person to whom you are speaking to, and the ability to listen and stay focused on what the person is saying. Also, concrete social anticipation combined with the chemical reward (dopamine) that came with receiving, opening and replying to the text message made texting so addicting. You only need to look at recent education statistics to see that text messaging has completely devastated the English language. Recent findings have suggested that schoolchildren in the 1960s and 1970s were far more literate than children of today. Many teachers in primary and secondary schools have expressed concern at the number of children whose literacy levels are dropping; and who are not even able to write by hand, so accustomed are they to texting by mobiles.

15. Smartphone does not educate pre-school children but it discourages social interaction like touching, talking, physical playing and movement so essential for child’s full development. If a 4 year old can go to facebook or twitter on smartphone, it is not smartness but only matter of touching a shape on screen. The use of smartphone could delay children’s language development, especially for children under age 2 of years. The practice of clicking or jumping from one option to another gather small chunks of information and it will be hard for children to focus and concentrate on just one big chunk of information when the situation calls for it. Smartphone will make your child dumb rather than smart.

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Moral of the story:

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1. Smartphone is a cell phone (mobile phone) that works as a computer. Smartphone is a multipurpose device that can effectively multitask using computer functionality with mobile operating system; internet connectivity through 3G/4G network including built-in apps for email, web browsing and social networking; QWERTY touchscreen keyboard; GPS; camera; motion sensors; video calls & conferencing; Wi-Fi connectivity; media player & video games; voice dictation & voice search; and ability to install & run third party apps. Smartphone screen size is getting bigger because smartphones have become our primary devices doing the jobs once held by personal computers and even television.

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2. The number of Smartphone users will be 2 billion by the end of 2015 in the world. On an average, internet users spend 1.85 hours online via smartphone each day. By 2020, more than six billion smartphones will be in use worldwide. Citizens of third-world countries are unlikely to own cars and computers, but they are rapidly buying smartphones.

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3. Smartphones have enabled users to keep connected to anyone at anytime from anywhere by any mode (voice call, text message, WhatsApp, email, video call and social media).

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4. Fundamental difference between smartphone and tablet is smartphone is pocketable while tablet is portable. Smartphone easily functions as mobile telephone while tablet cannot function as telephone as tablet is awkward to hold next to the face and tablet shape prevents to use it in a hand-held fashion.

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5. Smartphones have become interface between real physical world and virtual digital world. People are more willing to disclose their inner thoughts to a smartphone (virtual human) than a real human.

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6. Smartphones have radically changed many aspects of our everyday lives from communication to banking to shopping to entertainment to medicine; and smartphones assist on productivity, effective time usage and energy efficiency. On the other hand, there is substantial evidence to show that billions of smartphones have adverse impact on ecology, biology, environment, workplace, society, children, students and health.

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7. G in 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G stands for the “Generation” of the wireless mobile network and higher number before the ‘G’ means more power to send out and receive more information and therefore the ability to achieve a higher efficiency through the wireless mobile network. 2G shares a major part in the global market worldwide meaning many cell phone users still use this technology especially in third world. 3G network allows for more data transmission and therefore 3G enables voice and video calling, file transmission, internet surfing, online TV, view high definition videos, play games and much more. In 2011, 90% of the world’s population lived in areas with 2G coverage, while 45% lived in areas with 2G and 3G coverage. Modern smartphones are 3G phones with some models support 4G network. 4G networks use different frequencies to transmit data than 3G so you need a handset which has a modem that supports these new frequencies. 4G is around five times faster than existing 3G services. You can download an 800 MB movie in just 40 seconds on advanced 4G networks. That time would decrease to only one second for an entire movie download in 5G network.

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8. High-end smartphone is packed with power and features providing outstanding experience. Mid-range smartphone has enough features and power to do your essential tasks providing satisfactory experience. Low-end smartphone is cheap, built for third world to make it affordable to masses; has internet connectivity, camera, web browser and social media networking; and battery that last longer than high-end/mid-range devices as most customers of low-end devices are from third world having infrequent access to electricity.

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9. Voice dictation overcomes limitations of slow and small touchscreen to save time on smartphones. Voice search can answer any question and also commands to set alarms, make calls and texts, schedule meetings and more on your smartphone. In coming time this functionality will be smarter to operate whole Smartphone user interface (UI) by voice commands to make smartphone work more like your own secretary following your voice and making schedule for your daily routine.

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10. If you want to use your smartphone for video calls, please ensure that it has front-facing camera (secondary camera) besides traditional back-facing camera (primary camera) [two camera device]. Besides personal and social use, photography & videography by smartphone cameras have significant roles in crime prevention & detection, journalism and business; but they can be misused for voyeurism, invasion of privacy, blackmailing, pornography, rape blue film video and copyright infringement.

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11. Smartphone GPS technology is reliable for navigation while driving around town or on long road trips.

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12. Shorter the battery charge cycle, lesser will be battery lifespan. You can lengthen battery charge cycle by reducing screen brightness to minimum; avoiding live wallpapers and turning off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and notifications unless essential. This will increase the length of battery life before recharging is needed to 2 days and this in turn will prolong battery lifespan to 1000 days.

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13. Researcher after researcher found harms caused by radiofrequency radiation from smartphones & mobile phone towers on ecology and biology. Insects, plants, birds and humans are all caught in a vast experiment from which there is little escape. Also unsafe disposal of old smartphones leads to waste of resources and environmental pollution. GSM phones emit about 28 times more radiation on average as compared to CDMA phones and GSM phones are more biologically reactive as compared to CDMA; therefore adverse biological and health effects are more with GSM phones.

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14. One in six cell phones is contaminated with some sort of fecal matter containing pathogenic bacteria, probably because their owners did not wash their hands with soap after using the toilet.

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15. There is evidence to show that constant smartphone use leads to permanent damage to vision (eyesight).

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16. Sleeping with smartphone ‘ON’ at night leads to sleep deprivation, stress, obesity and poor work performance.

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17. Because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction and texting while driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving. Drivers using smartphones are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash. But it’s not just drivers causing dangerous situations on the roadways. Pedestrians using smartphones are just as dangerous as drivers using them. One in three pedestrians is distracted by a mobile device while crossing busy streets.

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18. Smartphone addiction occurs in 6 % people using smartphones. It is mediated by same dopamine reward circuit in brain that causes cocaine addiction. Smartphone addiction causes irresistible urges, inability to stop using compulsively, withdrawal when you don’t have it and increased tolerance which leads to using it more and more. Withdrawal symptoms include pronounced negative mood swings, irritability, frustration, feeling disconnected, and a fear of missing out; accompanied by increased heart rate & blood pressure. The good news is that withdrawal lasts for few days only.

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19. The average smartphone user checks his or her smartphone 35 times a day — for about 30 seconds each time, checking for missed calls, news updates, SMS, emails, WhatsApp or social media connections. When the information rewards are greater (e.g. salary, exam result, job selection, love affair) user checks 110 to 150 times a day. Smartphone addict incessantly keeps on checking round the clock as dopamine reward circuit is activated in their brain.

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20. One in five young adults use their smartphone during sex.  Also, unprotected adolescent sexual activity is more common amongst owners of smartphones. A survey confirms that 7% to 20% of teenagers have sexted using their smartphones; and smartphones give young people access of pornography at any time in any place.

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21. Biggest shortcoming of smartphone as an educational tool in schools is limitations of screen size & battery life, and drifting of students from learning activities to non-learning activities in the school. Also, the processing limitations of the smartphone resulting in slow response time can cause students to quickly lose interest in the learning task. Also, students who own smartphones are largely unaware of their potential to support learning and do not install apps for that purpose.

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22. Face-to-face interactions are important for cognitive, language and emotional development of children; and modern parents are so engrossed in their face-to-face interaction with smartphones that they ignore and neglect, face-to-face interaction with their children jeopardizing cognitive, language and emotional development of their children.

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23. Smartphone malware infection is far less common than PC malware infection because apps are downloaded on smartphone through Google Play for Android devices or App Store for Apple iPhones where there is rigorous review process for apps. Also apps are kept separate from the main operating system so that malwares can’t gain access to the operating system to make changes throughout.

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24. Rooting the smartphone gives you full control of your device, boost performance of device and can give you some pretty awesome features that the manufacturer left out, but it can expose the device to malware.

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25. Locking the screen on your smartphone by setting a pass-code is easy and effective to protect it from theft and intrusive friends & family members.

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26. In future, Li-Fi (Light Fidelity) technology will replace Wi-Fi technology for data transmission in smartphones. Li-Fi works by harnessing visible light spectrum to deliver data unseen by human eye. Li-Fi is both faster and more secure as compared to Wi-Fi & Bluetooth which use radio waves. Also lighting is cheap and emits no radiation. However, light doesn’t pass through solid objects like radio waves do; therefore only users in the line of sight can link up.

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27. Smartphone can replace PC (desktop/laptop) for lay people as they do not need lot of data. However, PC cannot be replaced by smartphones for doctors, engineers, scientists, researchers, professors, technocrats, intelligence agencies etc as they need data in better quality and large quantity for their work. Smartphone having screen size of 4 to 5 inch makes it difficult to view and properly display materials and thereby give information to brain in piece-meal from large data which will make it harder to understand, and also difficult to learn due to increased cognitive load. Biologically our eyes and our brains are not tuned to see and understand the world through a small window of 4 to 5 inch. Biology is lagging behind technology.

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28. If you are a smart person and want to remain smart, use dumbphone rather than smartphone because smartphone will make you dumb. Smartphone will also make your child dumb rather than smart. On the other hand, if you are a dumb person, smartphone will be a great help.

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Dr. Rajiv Desai. MD.

February 9, 2015

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Postscript:

Nine month ago I purchased a 3G smartphone replacing 2G cell phone. After writing article on ‘smartphone’ I am in two minds. I certainly want to improve my life by using smartphone for communication, education, banking, shopping and health. On the other hand, I certainly don’t want to become dumb by using smartphone. It is vital that we acknowledge that not all innovations are equally effective at improving productivity, and that sometimes, the best way of enhancing our performance is to turn off the monitor, disconnect the telephone, and simply think.

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Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV):

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CCTV pictures showing Al Qaeda’s terrorists Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari boarding a 6:00 a.m. flight from Portland to Boston’s Logan International Airport on September 11, 2001.

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CCTV footages of 2015:

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Prologue:

In the past people didn’t misbehave because they thought God was watching them. Today we’ve replaced an all-seeing God with the glassy eye of the CCTV camera. A CCTV camera can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year without a toilet break or lunch. It does not need a holiday, maternity leave and rarely goes sick. There were 25 million CCTV cameras in operation worldwide, with 2.5 million in the UK in 2002 but today the figure is doubled. Practically every major city now boasts a CCTV system aimed at, among other things, preventing, detecting and reducing crime. Increasingly these developments are mirrored in villages, shopping malls, residential estates, transport systems, schools and hospitals. In short, for many citizens it is now impossible to avoid being monitored and recorded as we move through public space. One of the most high-profile cases where CCTV has helped solve crime is the 7/7 London bombings. Police examined an estimate of around 2,500 items of CCTV footage in order to identify the four suicide bombers. The four suspects were isolated on railway station footage within four days of the attacks. A common argument in favor of CCTV is: ‘If you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.’  However, this does not answer the question: ‘If you are doing nothing wrong, why are you being watched at all?’ Is crime control the principal motivation behind increased surveillance or are the reasons more complex? Does surveillance violate peoples’ right of privacy? What are its implications for social control? Does surveillance actually reduce crime? I attempt to answer these questions. Humans are utilizing three technologies in 21’st century, computer-internet, cell phone and CCTV; and they are all inter-connected. I have already discussed cell phone and computer-internet in my earlier articles and today I complete the circle by discussing CCTV.

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Abbreviations and synonyms:

VCR = video cassette recorder

DVR = digital video recorder

SD cards = secure digital cards

IP = internet protocol

CCD = charged couple device

CMOS = complementary metal oxide semiconductor

ADC = analog-to- digital converter

DAC = digital-to-analog converter

IR = infrared

DSP = digital signal processing

HD = high-definition

SDI = Serial Digital Interface

TVL = television lines

SD CCTV = standard definition CCTV

IPTV = internet protocol TV = watching TV on internet

FPS = frames per second

LED = light emitting diode

PTZ = pan-tilt-zoom

NTSC = National Television System Committee

PAL = Phase Alternate Line

SECAM = Sequential Color and Memory

VHS = video home system

LCD = liquid-crystal display

CRT = cathode ray tube

DVD = digital video disc = digital versatile disc

CD = compact disc

NVR = network video recorder

VGA = video graphics array

JPEG = Joint Photographic Experts Group

MPEG = Motion Picture Experts Group

ASB = anti-social behavior

VA = video analytics = video content analysis = VCA

ANPR = Automatic Number Plate Recognition

VMD = Video Motion Detection

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CCTV is an acronym of many things:

People must know that Chinese Central Television is also abbreviated as CCTV which is a predominant state television broadcaster in mainland China. There is another meaning of CCTV i.e. Closed circuit televisions used by individuals who have low vision. Here a CCTV is a video magnifying system that uses a stand-mounted or handheld video camera to project a magnified image onto a video monitor, television screen or computer monitor. Potential uses for such a portable CCTV include reading your mail, newspapers, magazines, bills, books, prescription bottles, writing cheques, filling out crosswords puzzles, viewing pictures, etc. Although cable television is technically a form of CCTV, the term is generally used to designate TV systems with more specialized applications than broadcast or cable television.  Other common forms of CCTV include live on-site video displays for special events (e.g. conventions, arena sports, rock concerts); pay-per-view telecasts of sporting events such as championship boxing matches, and “in-house” television channels in hospitals, airports, racetracks, schools, malls, grocery stores, and municipal buildings. CCTV has many industrial and scientific applications, including electron microscopy, medical imaging and robotics, but the term “closed circuit TV” refers most often to security and surveillance camera systems. In this article, Closed-circuit television (CCTV) means cameras doing video surveillance. Video surveillance is defined as surveillance by a closed circuit television system for direct visual monitoring and/or recording of activities of a person or place. Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing, or protecting them. Surveillance is very useful to governments and law enforcement to maintain social control, recognize and monitor threats, and prevent/investigate criminal activity.

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Introduction to CCTV:

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance has become ubiquitous in everyday life. Their employment is commonplace in a variety of areas to which members of the public have access. While walking down Republic Street, visiting a shop or bank or sipping a cup of coffee, we are caught on camera. One feels compelled to recall one of George Orwell’s most famous novels of the twentieth century, titled ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, where Orwell sets in an imaginary totalitarian future with each person being subjected to round the clock surveillance. He makes use of bold phrases, the most notorious of which being, ‘Big Brother is watching you’.

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Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is a television transmission system in which live or prerecorded signals are sent over a closed loop to a finite and predetermined group of receivers, either via coaxial cable or as scrambled radio waves that are unscrambled at the point of reception.  CCTV systems are based on strategically-placed video cameras, which capture footage and then broadcast it to either a private (closed) network of monitors for real-time viewing, or to a video recorder (either analog or digital) for later reference. The most recent development is web camera server which uses the Internet for remote surveillance.

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CCTV also known as video surveillance is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors. It differs from broadcast television in that the signal is not openly transmitted, though it may employ point to point (P2P), point to multipoint, or mesh wireless links. Though almost all video cameras fit this definition, the term is most often applied to those used for surveillance in areas that may need monitoring such as banks, casinos, airports, military installations, and convenience stores. The use of video in distance education is included in CCTV ambit. An obvious use for CCTV is to prevent crime and malpractice but it is also a valuable business management tool offering staff protection, supporting Health & Safety initiatives, aiding investigations, proving innocence and avoiding lawsuits; other examples of its use are help with production control and other observational objectives in factories where, for example, conditions are unsuitable for human intervention.  It can be used a wide range of other applications, such as traffic surveys, keeping an eye on livestock and for monitoring wildlife activity, to name but few. The use of CCTV in the home environment is becoming more popular.  Not only does it improve general security, it can help to defend against anti social behaviour, and is a way of keeping an eye on children and pets.

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Changes in CCTV technology have been driven by three main requirements:

1. The first is the need to reduce the cost of recording and storing video for long periods.

2. The second is the need to reduce the amount of space required by these systems.

3. And the third is the need for improved accessibility.

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Camcorder vs. CCTV camera:

A camcorder is an electronic device combining a video camera and a video recorder, typically used for consumer video recording. The earliest camcorders were videotape-based, recording analog signals onto videotape cassettes. In the 21st century digital recording became the norm, with tape replaced by storage media such as internal flash memory and SD cards. Analog CCTV cameras are not camcorder as they need VCR or DVR for video recording and storage. IP CCTV camera may be called camcorder because they can record and store video images on SD cards. Secure Digital (SD) is a nonvolatile memory card used extensively in portable devices, such as mobile phones, digital cameras, GPS navigation devices, handheld consoles, and tablet computers. It is a family of solid-state storage media.

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Webcam vs. IP (internet protocol) camera:

Unlike an IP camera (which connects using Ethernet or Wi-Fi), a webcam is generally connected by a USB cable, or similar cable, or built into computer hardware, such as laptops. Their most popular use is the establishment of video links, permitting computers to act as videophones or videoconference stations. Other popular uses include security surveillance, computer vision, video broadcasting, and for recording social videos.

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CCTV vs. IPTV:

CCTV refers to video cameras for surveillance purpose.

IP TV is watching TV on the internet.

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History of CCTV:

The first CCTV system was installed by Siemens AG at Test Stand VII in Peenemünde, Germany in 1942, for observing the launch of V-2 rockets. The noted German engineer Walter Bruch was responsible for the technological design and installation of the system. In the U.S. the first commercial closed-circuit television system became available in 1949, called Vericon. Very little is known about Vericon except it was advertised as not requiring a government permit. The earliest video surveillance systems involved constant monitoring because there was no way to record and store information. The development of reel-to-reel media enabled the recording of surveillance footage. These systems required magnetic tapes to be changed manually, which was a time consuming, expensive and unreliable process, with the operator having to manually thread the tape from the tape reel through the recorder onto an empty take-up reel. Due to these shortcomings, video surveillance was not widespread. VCR (video cassette recorder) technology became available in the 1970s, making it easier to record and erase information, and use of video surveillance became more common. During the 1990s, digital multiplexing was developed, allowing several cameras to record at once, as well as time lapse and motion-only recording. This increased savings of time and money and the led to an increase in the use of CCTV. Recently CCTV technology has been enhanced with a shift towards internet-based products and systems, and other technological developments.

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In September 1968, Olean, New York was the first city in the United States to install video cameras along its main business street in an effort to fight crime. During the 1980s video surveillance began to spread across the U.S. specifically targeting public areas. It was seen as a cheaper way to deter crime compared to increasing the size of the police departments. Some businesses as well, especially those that were prone to theft, began to use video surveillance. Today, systems cover most town and city centers, and many stations, car-parks and estates.

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From broadcast industry to CCTV:

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Prevalence and market of CCTV:

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Prevalence:

There were about 25 million CCTV cameras in operation worldwide in 2002. The British Security Industry Authority (BSIA) estimated there are up to 5.9 million closed-circuit television cameras in the country, including 750,000 in “sensitive locations” such as schools, hospitals and care homes.  The survey’s maximum estimate works out at one for every 11 people in the UK, although the BSIA said the most likely figure was 4.9 million cameras in total, or one for every 14 people. Using a more complex methodology than previous studies, the BSIA produced a high, low and medium figure for each sector of the economy and then added the number together to say that the low estimate is 4 million cameras, the medium estimate is 4.9 million and the high estimate is 5.9 million. Importantly, they were counting all CCTV surveillance cameras, regardless of whether they face the public or not. So a camera in a storeroom or other area that is seldom visited by anyone counts just as much as a camera looking at the pavement outside a shop. The UK has more CCTV cameras per head of population than any other country. Harrods London store has in excess of 500 CCTV cameras installed.  London’s Metropolitan Police Force has approximately 200,000 cameras installed around the capital.

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Britain the surveillance state:

Britain has one and a half times as many surveillance cameras as communist China, despite having a fraction of its population. In China, which has a population of 1.3 billion, there are just 2.75 million cameras, the equivalent of one for every 472,000 of its citizens. Britain has established itself as the model state that the Chinese authorities would love to have. It is estimated that Britain has 20 per cent of cameras globally and that each person in the country is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily. There are 70 times more privately owned surveillance cameras in the UK than government ones.

•An article written in The Telegraph (14th June 2013) titled ‘Britons embrace CCTV cameras’ revealed that in a survey questioning 6,000 adults in France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK, Britain was found to have “the second highest number of people who felt that CCTV did not affect freedom, after Sweden.”

•The same survey revealed that 67% of people in Britain do not think that CCTV poses a problem; with 81% believing that it helps police fight crime.

•Following the riots in August 2011, BSIA member Synectics conducted a survey that revealed that 76% of individuals surveyed felt safer knowing that CCTV is in operation in public areas.

•62% of those surveyed also claimed that they would like to see more CCTV in their local area.

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CCTV market:

According to industry estimates, the global video surveillance market is expected to grow from $11.5 billion in 2008 to $37.7 billion in 2015. A 2013 New York Times/CBS poll found that 78% of respondents supported the use of surveillance cameras in public places, and authorities tend to point to spectacular successes — for example, crucial images cameras provided of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects or the identification of those responsible for the 2005 London attacks. The CCTV Market for the Global CCTV is expected to grow at the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 14% during 2013-2017.

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Human eye:

The human eye and its brain interface, the human visual system, can process 10 to 12 separate images per second, perceiving them individually. The threshold of human visual perception varies depending on what is being measured. When looking at a lighted display, people begin to notice a brief interruption of darkness if it is about 16 milliseconds or longer.  Observers can recall one specific image in an unbroken series of different images, each of which lasts as little as 13 milliseconds. When given very short single-millisecond visual stimulus, people report duration of between 100 ms and 400 ms due to persistence of vision in the visual cortex. This may cause images perceived in this duration to appear as one stimulus, such as a 10 ms yellow flash of light immediately followed by a 10 ms blue flash of light perceived as a single green flash of light. Persistence of vision may also create an illusion of continuity, allowing a sequence of still images to give the impression of motion. However, persistence of vision, that is popularly taught as the reason for motion illusion, is in reality merely the reason that the black spaces that come between each “real” movie frame are not perceived, which makes the phi phenomenon the true reason for motion illusion in cinema and animation, including the phenakistoscope, zoetrope, and others. The phi phenomenon is the optical illusion of perceiving continuous motion between separate objects viewed rapidly in succession.  The phi phenomenon is the apparent motion caused by a changing static image, as in a motion picture. A visual form of memory known as iconic memory has been described as the cause of this phenomenon. In the motion picture industry, where traditional film stock is used, the industry standard filming and projection formats are 24 frames per second (fps). Shooting at a slower frame rate would create fast motion when projected, while shooting at a frame rate higher than 24 fps would create slow motion when projected.

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Eyes and cameras work in same fashion:

To see an object, light must fall on object and reflected light from object enters eyes and processed in visual cortex as image. Similarly, for image to develop in camera, light must fall on object and reflected light enters camera to fall on image sensor that convert incident photons into displacement of electrons due to photoelectric effect. The displaced electrons in image sensor would elicit change in voltage and consequent analog signal akin to incident light. This analog signal would be converted into image on a film. This is still image. When many still images are taken sequentially and seen by eyes sequentially, an illusion of motion is created in our brain due to phi phenomenon and that is what we call video. In contrasting persistence of vision theory with phi phenomena, a critical part of understanding that emerges with these visual perception phenomena is that the eye is not a camera. In other words vision is not as simple as light passing through a lens, since the brain has to make sense of the visual data the eye provides and construct a coherent picture of reality.

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Lux:

The lux is the unit of illuminance and luminous emittance, measuring luminous flux per unit area. The basic unit of light within the European Standards is the lux – the amount of visible light per square metre visible on a surface. In Europe this is measured with a lux meter although in the USA you would use a foot-candle meter as the lux is also equivalent to 1 lumen per square metre or 0.093 foot-candles. Although it may seem simplistic to say so, in addition to needing light of the correct quality from a well-directed source, cameras require light in the right quantity. This is not always easy to find! Available light in our everyday lives varies to a surprising extent. A bright sunny day may generate 100,000 lux while the average operating table will be bathed in 20,000 lux. A hotel kitchen may enjoy 1,000 lux, a normal office 500 lux and a bank counter 200 lux. Compare this to street lighting which is typically between 5 and 50 lux and full moonlight weighs in at 0.1 lux! It takes considerable technical knowledge, skill and experience to ensure that the right camera systems with the right components are properly located and calibrated to take full advantage of these widely varying lighting conditions which are, themselves, subject to fluctuation due to time, season, weather conditions and other contributing factors. The opportunities to get the right camera in the wrong place or the wrong camera in the right place are legendary. Specifications for video cameras such as camcorders and surveillance cameras often include a minimum illuminance level in lux at which the camera will record a satisfactory image. A camera with good low-light capability will have a lower lux rating. Still cameras do not use such a specification, since longer exposure times can generally be used to make pictures at very low illuminance levels, as opposed to the case in video cameras where a maximum exposure time is generally set by the frame rate.

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Frame rate:

Frame rate (also known as frame frequency) is the frequency (rate) at which an imaging device produces unique consecutive images called frames. The term applies equally well to computer graphics, video cameras, film cameras, and motion capture systems. Frame rate is most often expressed in frames per second (fps).  Real time recording is about 25 to 30 fps. To calculate the fps per camera, take the total fps that the system could offer and divide it by the number of video inputs. For example, a 100 fps DVR (digital video recorder) with 4 video inputs would give 100/4, 25 fps per camera.

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Light to video:

Light is energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. The different forms of electromagnetic radiation all share the same properties of transmission although they behave quite differently when they interact with matter. Light is that part of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be detected by the human eye. Visible radiations are the wavelengths of light that are visible to the human eye and are from approximately 380 nm to 760 nm. Infrared light is considered to be wavelengths longer than 715 nm. As stated light is a form of electromagnetic radiation, its power is measured in Watts and its intensity measured in Watts per square meter (W/m^2). This goes for all wavelengths. The visible spectrum is, however, normally measured in lumens for power and intensity in lux. The lumen is related to perceived power or brightness and because of this, the relationship between lumens and Watts is dependent on wavelength. Lumen values diminish virtually to zero at infrared wavelengths. This is why it is not possible to express infrared radiation in terms of lux values. Only natural light provides absolutely even illumination, although it is of course affected by clouds and shadows. All forms of artificial light suffer from the fact that as the distance increases from the light source so the illuminance reduces. This is due to the inverse square law of illumination where the illuminance falls to a quarter of its value if the distance is doubled. This factor is particularly important in considering the light available for a camera. For instance a light source providing a level of 30 lux at 20 meters will provide 7.5 lux at 40 meters and only 3.3 lux at 60 meters. The other effect of this is that the wide range of light levels can cause problems with automatic iris lenses. Unless set up correctly, the foreground light will cause the iris to close and lose definition in the distance. The reverse is if the iris is set to the distant light level in which case there will be a lot of flare in the foreground. Another factor that affects the light level of an area is if the light is striking the surface at an angle. When light strikes a diffuse surface at an angle, the effective area of the surface is reduced proportionally to the cosine of the striking angle of incident light and the specific reflectance of target or scene. The sensor in a CCD (charged couple device) camera is composed of thousands of tiny photo-sensitive diodes, a camera with a resolution of 570 lines incorporates over 400,000 such diodes. Incidentally, all camera sensors are monochrome, colour is obtained by inserting red, green and blue filters (RGB wavelength regions) in front. This is why colour cameras have less resolution than monochrome cameras. Also due to the filters, colour cameras are not sensitive to infrared light. Therefore all the discussion on camera sensitivity and suitability for infrared illumination is confined to monochrome cameras. This is except for the Dual Mode cameras now becoming available which potentially offer the best of both worlds.

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Light Variables:

As an image is the recording of reflective light images, the amount of ambient light in the field of view determines the quality of the image being captures.  For example, if a CCTV camera is mounted to capture the images of people coming into a store and if the store entrance is to the outside and exposed to sunlight, without the proper camera lens, at the time of the day when the sun is shining into the store, the quality of the images captured will be very poor.  Similarly, where there is a low light situation, unless a type of lens which uses Infrared technology and contains a wide angle view is installed, the images will be extremely poor.  The use of vari-focal lens permits adjustments to the camera lens to increase or reduce the amount of light coming into the camera and to thereby improve the quality of the images recorded.

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An understanding of the principles of light is important to the design of CCTV systems because without adequate light there can be no pictures. What is ‘adequate light’ is dependent on many factors, some of which have already been mentioned in the specification of cameras and lens. The most important aspects of light affecting the design of CCTV systems are: Light level in lux; Reflectance and the wavelength of the light source. The light level and reflectance are interrelated and decide the camera sensitivity. The wavelength must be related to the spectral response of the camera.

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Analog cameras tend to have older and less expensive sensors in them, so they need more light. A lot of Analog cameras have built in “illuminators” (invisible infra-red LED’s around the lens to help light up objects in front of the camera), so these would consume more power than a newer more efficient network camera. Alternatively, more lights can be left on at night to help the analog cameras work better but this is even worse from a power stand point.

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Need for CCTV lighting:

1. Most crime occurs during darkness

2. All cameras need light to see

3. Regular street lighting is not good enough

4. Provide evidence for judicial purposes

5. IP cameras need more light

6. Megapixel cameras need more light

7. Video analytics only works with good clean images

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LED (light emitting diode) light and CCTV:

With ongoing product development and improvements based on frequent night-test sessions, LED illuminators have been refined to provide the even quality illumination that is exactly what CCTV cameras need. With the right products the light can be easily targeted and adjusted to give both the correct range (typically up to 370m+) and angle of coverage (typically anything from 10-180°) for each application. LED lights are also highly flexible in use; they start up immediately (with no warm up period) and so can be used for active warning systems, and for intelligent detector-driven CCTV applications. At night or in low light conditions, CCTV lighting can really enhance images, meaning that you can still monitor activity in your chosen areas with no compromise on picture quality.

Infrared (vide infra):

Infrared illuminators are designed to work in conjunction with B&W or Day and Night Cameras providing a light invisible to the human eye but fully visible to the CCTV camera. They pick up images clearly without attracting attention to the camera as there’s normally nothing more than a very dim glow on the unit.

White-Light LED:

LED (light emitting diode) based white-light illuminators deliver perfect white-light for use with colour cameras. LED white-light simulates daylight unlike the more standard incandescent sources, and it will illuminate your images, brightening any chosen area. Whether you want to deter potential problems or offer support in darkened areas, this is a great solution.

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The figure above shows that White Light LED technology allows accurate colour image capture at night and ensures that the CCTV system works at its best 24/7.  White Light LED products can be used as a powerful deterrent.

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Remember, infrared LED illumination provides capture of image at night without notice of intruder and white-light LED illumination provides capture of image in color at night with notice of intruder. Infrared illumination can catch crime at night while white light illumination can deter crime at night.

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Analog (analogue) and Digital Signals:

When an image is being captured by a camera, light passes through the lens and falls on the image sensor. The image sensor converts the received amount of light into a corresponding number of electrons. The stronger the light, the more electrons are generated. The electrons are converted into voltage which varies from positive to negative and back again in a sine-wave-shaped pattern. An analog signal represents the information it is intended to convey by presenting a continuous waveform analogous to the information itself. If the information is a 1000 Hertz sine-wave tone, for example, the analog signal is a voltage varying from positive to negative and back again, 1000 times per second, in a sine-wave-shaped pattern. A digital signal, unlike an analog signal, bears no superficial resemblance to the information it seeks to convey. Instead, it consists of a series of “1″ and “0″ bits, encoded according to some particular standard, and delivered as a series of rapid transitions in voltage. Ideally, these transitions are instantaneous, creating a “square wave.” Electrons don’t know whether they’re “digital” or “analog.” But that does not mean that digital and analog signals behave alike.

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An analog signal is an ‘any time continuous signal’ where some time varying features of the signal is a representation of some other time varying quantity. It differs from a digital signal in that small fluctuations within the signal are meaningful. Analog is usually thought of in an electrical context, however mechanical, hydraulic and other systems might also transmit analog signals. Each stage of the process, from camera through cabling, switching/multiplexing, recording and finally display, involves a transfer of this signal with unavoidable loss in both accuracy, and quality. On the other hand, digital signals are represented by binary numbers, through a series of 0’s and 1’s in relevant order, and this precision of quantity is measured in bits. A digital signal is transferred through each of these stages with total precision, because each tiny element of the signal is represented by a number. Transmissions are coded, so that errors can be detected and corrected, or part of the signal can be repeated. Ideally, video signals need to be generated in a digital format, and then processed from start to finish in the digital domain to avoid the initial loss of accuracy that would occur were the signal initially to be converted from analogue input into. This is exactly the trend current CCTV systems are following.

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Camera and Video:

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The starting point for any CCTV system must be the camera. The camera creates the picture that will be transmitted to the control position. Apart from special designs CCTV cameras are not fitted with a lens. The lens must be provided separately and screwed onto the front of the camera. There is a standard screw thread for CCTV cameras, although there are different types of lens mounts. Not all lenses have focus and iris adjustment. Most have iris adjustment. Some very wide angle lenses do not have a focus ring. The ‘BNC’ plug is for connecting the coaxial video cable. Line powered cameras do not have the mains cable. Power is provided via the coaxial cable.  Cameras can be internal or external, highly visible or covert. They can be static or fully controllable/movable from a remote location. You can have one camera or hundreds; you can record for one day or 21 days. With a suitable internet connection, you can even view your property when you are abroad. There are many types of CCTV cameras. They can be categorized by the types of images they are able to capture, the amount of frames they can take per minute, the type of connection to the monitor or video recording device, whether they are able to move position, and special functions they can provide.

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You have the choice of a mono, colour or colour/mono CCTV camera, which each have their advantages. Mono cameras are only able to capture images in black and white, but are the cheapest option and ideal for those on a budget. Colour CCTV cameras are better for use as evidence as they will display a full colour image, making it easier to identify people or objects in the image. For example, you will be able to see the hair colour and clothing colour of a suspect in a robbery. Colour/mono cameras however are able to capture full colour images during the day and then monochrome images at night when a standard colour camera would struggle to capture anything.

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Some types of camera:

◦Infrared Day/Night (color during the day, black and white and infrared viewing in complete darkness.)

◦Dome Security Cameras (a favorite for indoor applications)

◦Bullet Security Cameras (size of a finger “thus called bullet.”)

◦Box Security Cameras (you see in banks a lot)

◦PTZ Security Camera (Controllable Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras such as the airport)

◦Hidden Cameras (smoke detector, motion sensor, clocks)

Some cameras can be used outdoor or indoor. This will be specified on the product. Never use an indoor camera outdoor or there will eventually be video issues.

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Most security cameras have a fixed 6mm lens that allows you to see facial features out to about 30 feet and provides a 56 degree angle of view. Resolution levels for black and white security cameras are about 400 lines, any higher and the benefits are minimal. For color cameras, the higher the resolution the better. Infrared security cameras are also very popular as they allow an image to be seen in little or no lighting conditions. Most infrared security cameras are bullet style and can be used inside or out. The cameras have infrared lighting installed around the outer edge of the lens which allows the security camera to see in no light. Varifocal camera lenses allow you to adjust the focus from 5 to 50 mm. These lenses can be used inside only unless you put it in special housing for outdoor use. Dome security cameras basically provide a different look. Everyone has seen these security cameras in businesses and stores. Because of its shape, it is difficult to tell exactly where the camera is aiming unless you see it up close. Dome cameras are generally used inside buildings.

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Iris:

To provide optimum performance neither too much nor too little light should fall on the camera sensor. This can be adjusted by means of the lens iris. A smaller iris opening offers greater depth of field and better focus, but the reduced amount of light admitted into the camera results in poor quality images in low lighting levels. A fixed iris lens offers no adjustment to different lighting conditions, so is therefore limited in use and not suitable for applications where fine detail is consistently required. A manual iris can be adjusted at the time of installation, allowing an optimum picture to be obtained for a fixed lighting level. These lenses are best suited to indoor applications, where the lighting level is controllable and consistent. Both manual and fixed iris lenses can be used with cameras which offer a feature known as ‘electronic iris’ – an on-board technology to effectively reduce the sensor exposure to compensate for the lack of iris control. This can be cost effective, but does not provide the increased depth of field offered by a correctly sized iris.  For external use (where conditions generally vary the most), an automatic iris lens offers the best performance, as the iris aperture automatically adjusts to create the optimum image by monitoring the output signal from the camera. There are a number of different lens types offering this method of iris control. The original design for automatic iris (Al) lenses was wholly self-contained, with the image analysing technology built into the lens and an iris that was adjusted by servomotors.

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Lenses:

The function of lens of CCTV camera is to focus incoming light on image sensor. The CCTV lens performs two main functions. First it determines the scene that will be shown on the monitor; this is a function of the focal length. Second it controls the amount of light reaching the sensor; this is a function of the iris. The human eye is an incredibly adaptable device that can focus on distant objects and immediately refocus on something close by. It can look into the distance or at a wide angle nearby. It can see in bright light or at dusk, adjusting automatically as it does so. It also has a long ‘depth of field’; therefore, scenes over a long distance can be in focus simultaneously. It sees colour when there is sufficient light, but switches to monochrome vision when there is not. It is also connected to a brain that has a faster updating and retentive memory than any computer. Therefore, the eyes can swivel from side to side and up and down, retaining a clear picture of what was scanned. The brain accepts all the data and makes an immediate decision to move to a particular image of interest, select the appropriate angle of view and refocus. The eye has another clever trick in that it can view a scene of great contrast and adjust only to the part of it that is of interest.  By contrast, the basic lens of a CCTV camera is an exceptionally crude device. It can only be focused on a single plane, everything before and after this plane becoming progressively out of focus. The angle of view is fixed. At any time, it can only view a specific area that must be predetermined. The iris opening is fixed for a particular scene and is only responsive to global changes in light levels. Even an automatic iris lens can be only be set for the overall light level, although there are compensations for different contrasts within a scene. Another problem is that a lens may be set to see into specific areas of interest when there is much contrast between these and the surrounding areas. However, as the sun and seasons change so do light areas become dark and dark areas become light. The important scene can be ‘whited out’ or too dark to be of any use.  A controversial but important aspect of designing a successful CCTV system is the correct selection of the lens. The problem is that the customer may have a totally different perspective of what a lens can see compared to the reality. This is because most people perceive what they want to view as they see it through their own eyes. Topics such as identification of miscreants or number plates must be debated frequently between installing companies and customers. There are two other main factors that must be considered when selecting the most appropriate lens for a particular situation. The focal length and the type of iris control. Within each of these factors, there are other features that will also need to be considered. Lenses may be obtained with all combinations of focal length and iris control. The selection will depend on the site and system requirement. A zoom lens is one in which the focal length can be varied manually or using motor over a range.

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Focal length of lens:

When rays of light pass through a convex lens, they tend to converge at a single point at some distance ahead of the lens. This distance between the lens and the point where they focus is known as the focal length. In case of a CCTV camera, the lens focuses the rays at a point where the sensor is placed. The combination of the focal length of the lens and the size of the sensor determine the field of view of the CCTV camera. The shorter the focal length, the wider the field of view, and vice versa. A short focal length (e.g. 3.6mm) represents a wide angle of view while a long focal length (16mm) represents a narrow angle of view. The size of the camera’s CCD image device will also affect the angle of view. CCTV Cameras come in different chip sizes – 2/3″, 1/2″, 1/3″ and 1/4″. The smaller the CCD Chip – the narrower the angle of view.

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Wide Angle Lenses:

Wide angle lenses have many advantages for CCTV and IP video surveillance. The first advantage is wide field of view. The second advantage is good low-light performance. And last but not least, wide angle lenses provide good depth of field as compared to telephoto lenses. However these advantages do come with a few drawbacks as well such as the possible geometrical distortion which appears as visible curvatures at the edges of a camera image and higher requirements for the camera resolution. Hence it is important to maintain a proper balance between the wide field of view and possible drawbacks of wide angle lenses.

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Field of View:

The CCTV Camera must be placed in a position to permit it to capture the images wished to be captured.  This is called the “field of view”.  If the field of view is in a confined space directly in front of the camera, a particular lens to capture these relative close images will be used.  However, if the field of view extends a distance away from the camera such as in the length of a store aisle, to record images with sufficient resolution to utilize them properly, a CCTV camera with a lens to capture this field of view should be used.

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Depth of Field:
The Depth of Field is the distance within which objects in a picture are in focus as seen in the figure below.

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A large Depth of Field means almost all objects in the Field of View are in focus.
A small Depth of Field means only a small section of the Field of View are in Focus.
The following factors can lead to a greater Depth of Field: using a Wide Angle Lens, High F-Stop, using an Auto Iris.

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Range of CCTV camera:

IR range is a largely made up number based around how far away from the camera Infra red light can be detected. It has nothing at all to do with the effective range at which detail can be filmed. The distance at which detail can be captured using a camera is its optical range. Some PTZ cameras have 10 km range. The table below shows an approximate guide to the optical range of different lens cameras i.e. the distance at which a number plate or a person can be identified.

2.8 mm lens 1.5 meters
3.6 mm lens 3 meters
6 mm lens 5 – 6 meters
9 mm lens 8 – 9 meters
12 mm lens 10 meters
22 mm lens 15 meters
60 mm lens 50 meters

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What is C and CS mounts?

It refers to the 2 different standards of CCTV camera lens mount. The difference between the two is the distance between the lens and the image sensor. C mount: 17.5mm, CS mount: 12.5mm. Cameras and lenses nowadays are generally CS mount rather than C mount. With CS mount cameras, both types of lenses can be used. However, the C mount lens requires an additional 5mm ring to be fitted between the camera and lens to achieve a focused image. With C mount cameras it is not possible to use CS mount lenses as it is not physically possible to mount the lens close enough to the image sense to achieve a focused image. The advantage to C-mount security cameras is that the lens can be changed. You’ll want a special camera lens if you need to see further than 35 ft. The colour C-mount security camera allows you to change lenses on the camera giving you the ability to zoom into a particular area.

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Pan/Tilt/Zoom Cameras:

A pan–tilt–zoom camera (PTZ camera) is a camera that is capable of remote directional and zoom control. Surveillance cameras of this type are often connected to a digital video recorder which records the full field of view in full quality. Pan/Tilt/Zoom or PTZ cameras permit the manipulation of the camera to change the camera’s field of view. This manipulation is done mechanically by using a control device called a “joy stick”.  By using the joy stick, the viewer can change the camera’s field of view to track a person moving through the store. With the advent of digital camera technology, digital cameras are available which perform a similar function, but do so using software rather than mechanically manipulating the camera.

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Auto tracking:

An innovation to the PTZ camera is a built-in firmware program that monitors the change of pixels generated by the video clip in the camera. When the pixels change due to movement within the cameras field of view, the camera can actually focus on the pixel variation and move the camera in an attempt to center the pixel fluctuation on the video chip. This process results in the camera following movement. The program allows the camera to estimate the size of the object which is moving and distance of the movement from the camera. With this estimate, the camera can adjust the cameras optical lens in and out in an attempt to stabilize the size of pixel fluctuation as a percentage of total viewing area. Once the movement exits the cameras field of view, the camera automatically returns to a pre-programmed or “parked” position until it senses pixel variation and the process starts over again.

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Eye in the sky (camera):

The eye in the sky is a term given to casino and other commercial security closed circuit cameras. In casinos, they are positioned to monitor seats, tables, hallways, restaurants, and even elevators closely. The functional component is a PTZ camera. These cameras often help casino officials judge whether the person is card counting, which is popular in blackjack or past posting, which is popular in roulette. In case a crime or a cheat is detected after the fact, the casino employees can review the recorded tapes and find the culprit. The casino cameras are adjusted to focus on certain suspicious players by security workers in a separate casino room with banks of security monitors.

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Housing:

Housings, in essence are casings used to protect Cameras from a variety of conditions, dependent on the environment in which they are mounted. At first sight, most Camera Housings may seem similar. In practice to ensure the optimum appearance and performance of appropriate for a Camera installation, a number of factors have to be taken into consideration:

1. Location.

2. Risk of vandalism.

3. The total load weight of the housing and constituent elements (including Camera, Lens and any other equipment encased within, the hanging bracket and fixing surface)

4. The housing chosen has sufficient physical space for the Camera, Lens (which may have to be changed at a later stage), electrical wiring and enough room to make the connections and allow for future maintenance.

5. Try to aluminium or rust proof products. Steel is more vulnerable to the elements and will rust in time!

Housings should only be mounted onto load bearing points.

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Film camera:

Before I go to CCTV camera, let me discuss standard film camera and movie camera:

How ordinary film cameras work:

When you take a photo, the shutter lets light enter from the lens and expose the film. A film is a long spool of flexible plastic coated with special chemicals (based on compounds of silver) that are sensitive to light. It is an analog medium because chemical change is proportional to the amount of light absorbed by each light-sensitive silver halide crystal.

Film photo to digital photo:

You can take a photograph using a conventional film camera, process the film chemically, print it onto photographic paper and then use a digital scanner to sample the print (record the pattern of light as a series of pixel values).

Classic movie cameras:

A basic movie camera is like a standard film camera that takes a photograph on to plastic film every time the shutter opens and closes. In a standard film camera, you have to wind the film on so it advances to the next position to capture another photograph. But in a movie camera, the film is constantly moving and the shutter is constantly opening and closing to take a continuous series of photographs—about 24 times each second.

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Tubed Cameras:

The first CCTV cameras to be used were based around special vacuum tubes with a light sensitive coating on one end. Light striking this coating caused electric current to flow down the tube, proportional to the amount of light falling at each point on the coating. The circuits of the camera then converted the current to the video signal. This was a good initial design and gave cameras that had good sensitivity and resolution. However the cameras were bulky and the tubes had a limited life span, requiring regular, expensive tube changes. CCD cameras, when introduced, were smaller, lighter and required practically no maintenance. This has led to their widespread replacement of tubed cameras in CCTV systems, where CCD cameras are now used in practically all new installations. For this reason, no further discussion of tubed cameras will be made in this article.

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Image sensor:

An image sensor is a device that converts an optical image into an electronic signal. It is used mostly in cameras, camera modules and other imaging devices. Early analog sensors were video camera tubes; currently used types are semiconductor charge-coupled devices (CCD) or active pixel sensors in complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) or N-type metal-oxide-semiconductor (NMOS, Live MOS) technologies. At its most basic level, a camera has a series of lenses that focus light to create an image of a scene. But instead of focusing light onto a piece of film, video is focused onto a Charge Coupled Device that records light electronically. The semiconductor device (CCD) measures light with a half-inch panel of 300,000 to 500,000 tiny light-sensitive diodes called photosites. Each photosite measures the amount of light (photons) that hits a particular point, and translates this information into electrical charges. A brighter image is represented by a higher electrical charge, and a darker image is represented by a lower electrical charge. But measuring light intensity only gives us a black-and-white image. To create a color image the CCD has to detect not only the total light levels, but also the levels of each color of light. Since you can produce the full spectrum of colors by combining the three colors red, green and blue, the CCD only needs to measure the levels of these three colors to be able to reproduce a full-color picture.

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Ironically, although CCD stands for “Charge Couple Device” and CMOS stand for “Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor” but actually neither CCD nor CMOS have anything to do with image sensing. The actuarial sensor is a device called “Photo Diode” Both CCD sensor and CMOS sensor (as so called), are actually using same kind of sensor called Photo diode. Photo diode is a P N junction diode that will convert photon of the light that is bombing the junction into proportional amount of electron. The amount of electron are them calculated and read as voltage of signal. The more the light that entering the photo diode the more the electron generated and the higher the voltage output from the sensor.  CCD actually is only the technology to store the electron charge and the method to move these charges out of photo sensor in an organized way. CMOS actually is only a technology to make transistor on silicon wafer, and have no further meaning. Sensor being called CMOS sensor was a convenient way to discriminate it from CCD sensor and have nothing to do with the real ways that the sensor handling image.  CMOS sensor convert electron generated by photo diode into voltage signal immediately without complicate process hence it is much faster. This good point makes CMOS sensor very useful for fast frame camera, the frame speed can be as high as 400 ~2000 frame/sec. This point makes it very good for high speed moving object survey. Since CCD image sensors charge all light particles at once, they use 100 times more power than CMOS sensors. This means the battery life of cameras with CCD sensors will be much lower than those with CMOS sensors. CCD image sensors also cost more to manufacture since they are a very complex part of the camera, which in turn makes cameras with CCD sensors more costly than CMOS cameras. Experts and hobbyists have never been able to agree completely on which image sensor is the best. While there are pros and cons to each, it really comes down to personal preference, and with the use of photo-editing software, pictures from either type of camera can come out perfect.

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CCD Cameras:

A lens focuses light onto the surface of the CCD image sensor. The areas of light and dark are sensed by individual photo-diodes, which build up an electrical charge proportional to the light. That is to say that the brighter the light on an individual photo-diode the bigger the charge developed. These photo-diodes are arranged in a matrix of rows and columns and are given the name picture cells or Pixels. The charge is removed from each pixel by rows of CCD cells. These CCD rows are like ladders for charge, enabling step-by-step the charge on each pixel, and consequently the light level on it, to be read off by processing electronics. An amplifier is needed to boost the signal from the CCD sensor electronics up to the level where it can be used on a monitor. A synchronising generator is also used in the CCD camera to generate the signals that read the light level charge off the CCD and the synchronisation pulses used by the video monitor to re-create the image. The mixer section combines the video and synchronisation signals to produce the composite video signal used by the monitor.

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Colour CCD Cameras:

Colour CCD cameras are basically the same as monochrome cameras. However, there are additional components that have important effects on the performance of the camera. Light passes through the lens and through a colour correction filter on to the CCD. The CCD is sensitive to infrared light, which is present in normal daylight. This infrared light produces false signals from the CCD that affects the purity of the colours reproduced by the camera. The colour correction filter removes the infrared light before it hits the CCD and ensures the colour purity of the camera. However, it also means that infrared illuminators cannot be used with normal colour cameras as the colour correction filter removes all the lighting created. The actual CCD image sensor comprises of an array of pixels like a monochrome camera. However, each pixel is subdivided in to three smaller light sensitive areas that are constructed to be sensitive to red, green and blue light respectively. Consequently the pixels are larger in size than for monochrome CCDs and the number of pixels which can be fitted on to a colour CCD of a given size is less than a monochrome CCD of equal dimension. This is why, generally, monochrome cameras still have resolution which is higher than colour cameras. The colour correction filter and colour sensitivity of the pixels also tend to make colour cameras less sensitive to light that monochrome cameras. Typically, colour cameras have sensitivities between 1 lux and 2.5 lux whereas monochrome cameras have sensitivities between 0.01 lux and 0.1 lux.  The separate brightness signals for red, yellow and blue are amplified separately and the used by signal processing circuits to produce the luminance (Y) signal and the chrominance (C) signal. The Y and C signals are then combine with the composite sync pulses to produce a composite colour video signal. Many colour cameras also feature a separate connector where the Y and C signals are output separately for connection to Super VHS video recorders and monitors, for improved resolution.

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Monochrome or Colour?

The human eye remembers and recalls things better if they appear in colour – it’s easier to track down a brown-haired person wearing a red sweater and blue jeans than a dark, grey-clad figure that would be produced in monochrome.  Colour cameras carry an additional premium in price compared with monochrome cameras. But they are also less sensitive making night usage an impractical option unless good lighting is available.  Monochrome cameras can offer Infra Red (IR) sensitivity allowing their use with covert IR illumination possible. This can be particularly useful where planning permission makes extra lighting impractical or the security requirement is such that intruders should not be alerted to the existence of CCTV surveillance.

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Analog and digital camera:

Video cameras are either analogue or digital, which means that they work on the basis of sending analogue or digital signals to a storage device such as VCR (for analog signals) or DVR, desktop computer/ laptop computer for digital signals. However, when ADC (analog digital converter) is used, analog signals are converted into digital signals and stored on DVD or computer. These can be subdivided further into medium resolution monochrome or color, high resolution monochrome or color, day/night cameras that provide color in the day and monochrome at night. Currently, most CCTV applications use analog baseband composite video.

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Conventional CCTV camera (conventional analog camera):

In conventional CCD cameras the functions of amplification, signal processing and mixing are carried out by analogue circuits, which work on changing the voltages of the signals by various means. Adjustments to picture quality are made by small adjustable resistors which are set up to give the best overall performance across a range of camera operating conditions (light levels etc.) This approach is very cost effective and gives good quality pictures in most lighting conditions. However, these adjustments are, at best, a compromise and the effects of tolerances in the values of the electronic components and changes over the lifetime of the camera can cause the quality of pictures obtained from the camera to vary greatly.

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From analog camera (conventional CCTV camera):

1. Can record straight to a VCR which is able to record analogue signals as pictures.

2. Analogue signals can also be converted into a digital signal to enable the recordings to be stored on a PC as digital recordings. In that case the analogue video camera must be plugged directly into a video capture card in the computer, and the card then converts the analogue signal to digital. These cards are relatively cheap, but inevitably the resulting digital signals are compressed 5:1 (MPEG compression) in order for the video recordings to be saved on a continuous basis.

3. Another way to store recordings on a non-analogue media is through the use of a digital video recorder (DVR). Such a device is similar in functionality to a PC with a capture card and appropriate video recording software. Unlike PCs, most DVRs designed for CCTV purposes are embedded devices that require less maintenance and simpler setup than a PC-based solution, for a medium to large number of analogue cameras.

4. Some DVRs also allow digital broadcasting of the video signal, thus acting like a network camera. If a device does allow broadcasting of the video, but does not record it, then it’s called a video server. These devices effectively turn any analogue camera (or any analogue video signal) into a network TV.

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You can also have analog video output from DSP camera (vide infra) and that is also analog camera but signal processing is digital and not analog. In conventional CCTV camera, signal processing is analog.

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An analogue / HD-SDI camera just converts light signals into electrons and sends the electronic signal to the recorder to do arithmetic and storage. High-definition (HD) video is video of higher resolution and quality than standard-definition. While there is no standardized meaning for high-definition, generally any video image with more than 480 horizontal lines (North America) or 576 lines (Europe) is considered high-definition.  Serial Digital Interface (SDI) is a standard for digital video transmission over coaxial cable. The most common data speed is 270 megabits per second (Mbps). However, speeds of up to 540 Mbps are theoretically possible. Standard 75-ohm cable is used. This is the same type of coaxial cable used in most home television (TV) installations.

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Digital camera:

Today, most digital still cameras use either a CCD image sensor or a CMOS sensor. Both types of sensor accomplish the same task of capturing light and converting it into electrical signals. Each cell of a CCD image sensor is an analog device. When light strikes the chip it is held as a small electrical charge in each photo sensor. The charges are converted to voltage one pixel at a time as they are read from the chip. Additional circuitry in the camera converts the voltage into digital information. Virtually none of these cameras are truly digital – they merely have internal digital processing to produce a better picture, alternatively a digital interface for camera control, but they do not produce a true digital image output. True digital cameras (a type of DSP camera discussed vide infra) discard the normal analogue video standard, and at the same time all the problems of fixed frame rate, interlacing, interlace motion-blur, limited TV-line resolution, and loss of signal quality over distance. Digital cameras will produce a digital signal with a frame rate and resolution most suited to the application, and can vary this according to immediate needs. These cameras can switch rapidly from a high-frame rate, medium-resolution image, to very high-resolution snapshots, or to low frame rate, low-resolution output for video transmission over phone lines. By using non-interlaced progressive scanning, digital cameras immediately double the available vertical resolution for recording purposes. Digital cameras will also offer far more than just better resolution and image quality – they will be intelligent. Their on-board processors and memory storage will mean that, with suitable programming, they could switch on lights, detect motion, trigger alarms, open gates, close doors and record pre- and post-alarm images when required. They will also be capable of controlling their own Pan Tilt and Zoom (PTZ) mounts, triggering automatic wash/wipe functions(to clean camera lenses), and even remind system managers when scheduled maintenance is due.

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Typical CCTV analog video signal:

CCD and CMOS imagers both depend on the photoelectric effect to create electrical signal from light. Both types of imagers convert light into electric charge and process it into electronic signals. Figure below shows a typical CCTV analog video signal. This is commonly known as the composite baseband video signal because the synchronising and video information are combined into a single signal without a modulated radio frequency carrier. Maximum light will produce a maximum voltage and therefore a white level. No light will produce no voltage and therefore a black level. In between these will be shades of grey, and this is the luminance information of a video signal. In the case of a color camera, the chrominance and color burst signals are superimposed onto the luminance signal to carry the color information. The total voltage produced is 1 volt peak-to-peak (Vpk-pk), from the bottom of the sync pulse to the top of the white level. The luminance portion of the signal is from 0.3 volt to 1 volt (0.7 volt maximum).

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Fundamentals of analog video:

Video signals are the signals used to send closed circuit television pictures from one place to another. Television (TV) is literally, tele-vision, a means of viewing one place from somewhere else. The word video comes from the Latin verb Videre, to see.  A television picture is made up from a number of horizontal lines on the television screen, which are laid down, or scanned, from the top to the bottom of the television screen. There are now only two standards for TV pictures in general use, 525 lines in the USA (EIA) and Japan and 625 lines elsewhere (CCIR). The descriptions that follow are based on the 625-line system. The number of lines describes how each still picture is created, but a television picture is made up from a number of still pictures displayed every second.  If a series of still images is presented at a rate of about 14 per second, an impression of continuous movement will be perceived. This, however, would give rise to a very distracting flicker. If the rate were increased to 24 images per second, the flicker would be almost unnoticeable. Increasing this to 50 images per second would eliminate noticeable flicker. To transmit 50 complete images per second would be needlessly complex and expensive to produce. The solution is to adopt what is known as interlaced scanning. Instead of scanning the full 625 lines 50 times a second, 312.5 lines are scanned 50 times a second. Therefore, one scan produces 312 1/2 lines from the top to the bottom of the picture. This is known as one field. The next scan is arranged to start at a precise position exactly between the lines of the first scan, so that the lines of the second field interlace, like fingers, between the lines of the first field. In this way, a complete frame of video is created made up from two fields. The CCD is scanned across and down exactly 312.5 times (for a 625-line system) and this creates a video field. A second scan of 312.5 lines is exactly 1/2 a line down and interlaced with the first scan to form a picture with 625 lines. This is known as a 2:1 interlaced picture. The combined 625-line is known as a video frame and made up from two interlaced fields. Typical camera resolution is 350 TV lines, with high resolution cameras producing better than 450 lines. On a TV screen, the phosphor on the screen continues to glow from the first scan while the second scan is being displayed. In this way, although only 25 complete pictures (frames) are presented per second the screen is scanned 50 times (fields) per second. The result is to achieve a flicker rate of 50 Hz (cycles per second) while only using a bandwidth for 25 frames per second. The relationship between the length of the horizontal lines and the height of the picture is always the same and is known as the aspect ratio. The signal used to carry the scanning pictures from one place to another is called the video signal. A voltage is generated proportional to the brightness of the image at any point on a horizontal line. For the brightest parts, corresponding to a white area, a level of one volt is produced; this is the white level.  For the darkest parts corresponding to a black image, a voltage of approximately 0.3 volts is produced; this is the black level. Between these levels, the camera will produce a voltage proportional to the shade of grey of the image. CCTV (Closed Circuit TV) uses one or more video cameras to transmit video and sometimes audio images to a monitor, set of monitors, or video recorder. The difference between CCTV and standard TV is that standard TV openly broadcasts signals to the public. CCTV is not openly transmitted to the public.

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The bandwidth required to transmit this signal ranges from DC to 8 MHz for the three main video standards: NTSC (National Television System Committee), PAL (Phase Alternate Line) and SECAM (Sequential Color and Memory). The NTSC format was developed in the US and is used in most of the Americas (North/South/Central), Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Philippines. It utilizes a bandwidth of 6 MHz. The PAL format was developed in Europe and is used in most of Europe, Asia and Africa, and utilizes a bandwidth of 8 MHz. The SECAM format was developed in France and is used primarily in France and some eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Hungary), and also utilizes a bandwidth of 8 MHz.

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NTSC has the colour video signal television standard: 525 lines, 60Hz while PAL has the colour video signal television standard: 625 lines, 50Hz

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TVL:

Television lines (TVL) is a specification of an analog camera’s or monitor’s horizontal resolution power. It is alternatively known as Lines of Horizontal Resolution (LoHR). The TVL is one of the most important resolution measures in a video system. Traditionally we have measured the resolution of analogue CCTV cameras in TeleVision Lines (TVL). This measure counts the number of vertical lines that can be resolved across the screen. TVL is defined as the maximum number of alternating light and dark vertical lines that can be resolved per picture height. A resolution of 400 TVL means that 200 distinct dark vertical lines and 200 distinct white vertical lines can be counted over a horizontal span equal to the height of the picture.

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Resolution of analog image:

Resolution can be defined as the fineness of detail that can be distinguished in an image. In CCTV cameras, resolution is measured in TV Lines (TVL). A higher number of TVL means that a camera will be able to render images with more detail. However, TVL is not the sole factor that determines the quality of the final output. For example, the resolution does not affect the color reproduction of the camera. The monitoring device and the video processing of the DVR also impact the final output. Figure below is a comparison of different TVL resolutions.

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Typical camera resolution is 350 TV lines, with high resolution cameras producing better than 450 lines. Note that resolution costs money! There are now colour cameras that instead of superimposing the chrominance onto the luminance signal, provide the chrominance as a separate signal. This is known as Y/C separation and requires two coaxial cables from the camera to carry each signal separately. The effect of this technique is to increase the bandwidth and therefore the resolution, typically to better than 500 TV lines.

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DSP (digital signal processing) camera:

In DSP cameras digital circuits, as shown in figure below, carry out the signal processing and mixing. The signals from the CCD are connected to an analogue to digital converter (ADC). This converts the brightness level from each point into a number. In this way, the entire picture captured by the CCD at any moment is represented by a group of numbers. These numbers are processed at high speed by the digital signal processor, which does mathematics on the numbers in order to produce the video signal at the output of the camera. The digital signal processor gives the other name used for digital cameras, DSP. The composite video signal or Y-C video signal is produced by a digital to analogue converter (DAC) which takes the finished information from the digital signal processor and produces the composite video. Most DSP cameras still produce these analogue composite video and Y-C signals as this is currently the most popular format required by the other equipment in the video system; monitors, switchers, multiplexers, VCR’s etc. DSP cameras do have the possibility to produce the video signal in a digital form and it is likely that this will become popular when a worldwide standard is agreed for sending video pictures digitally in CCTV systems.

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Digital signal processing (DSP) is the mathematical manipulation of an information signal to modify or improve it in some way. It is characterized by the representation of discrete time, discrete frequency, or other discrete domain signals by a sequence of numbers or symbols and the processing of these signals. A digital signal processor (DSP) is a specialized microprocessor (or a SIP block), with its architecture optimized for the operational needs of digital signal processing. The goal of DSP is usually to measure, filter and/or compress continuous real-world analog signals. Usually, the first step is conversion of the signal from an analog to a digital form, by sampling and then digitizing it using an analog-to-digital converter (ADC), which turns the analog signal into a stream of discrete digital values (as in IP camera). Often, however, the required output signal is also analog (as in analog camera), which requires a digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Even if this process is more complex than analog processing and has a discrete value range, the application of computational power to signal processing allows for many advantages over analog processing in many applications, such as error detection and correction in transmission as well as data compression.

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DSP CCTV camera basics:

At first, IP/digital and analog cameras may seem more alike than they are different. Both cameras employ an analog image sensor, which is either CCD (charge coupled device) or CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor). Virtually, all analog cameras use a CCD sensor and IP cameras can utilize either type. The analog signal from the sensor is then converted to digital form by an analog-to-digital converter and further processed by the camera’s onboard digital circuitry (DSP). Remember both IP camera and digital camera have digital signal processing and digital video output but IP camera additionally has embedded web-server with IP address to transmit video & audio through internet.

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Hidden (covert) camera:

Hidden cameras can be integrated into any CCTV network, and often are. They allow users to record criminal behavior when criminals are on the lookout for standard security cameras. They can be more effective in capturing video evidence, since they are harder to avoid, but sacrifice the deterrent properties of traditional CCTV cameras. On the other end of the spectrum, dummy cameras are a low-cost deterrent device, appearing to be CCTV cams, often complete with blinking lights. Many small businesses use dummy cams as an extra measure of security.

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The figure above shows Smoke-alarm covert camera.

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Covert Cameras, in essence, are a means of offering surveillance of an undetected or more discreet nature. Suitable for use in a broad range of internal applications, these miniature cameras have been designed and developed to provide monitoring tools that are disguised in the form of everyday commercial and domestic objects. This ensures that they are able to blend inconspicuously into any background and consequently do not catch people’s attention. As a result, there are a number of state-of-the-art products which have been introduced into the market to meet security demands, varying from office clocks to Passive InfraRed (PIR) sensors, containing a minute camera within. These products are available in monochrome or colour versions and with optional audio. Covert cameras tend to be used where there is a requirement to achieve particular objectives. These tend to fall into the following categories:

A) Covert surveillance – where there is a requirement to monitor activities in a particular location, completely undetected, e.g. in areas of high security like jewellers and banks. They are also useful for back-up surveillance in installations where the primary CCTV equipment is of a more traditional nature, i.e. standard cameras. In this case Covert Cameras can operate as a back-up where primary cameras are disabled by an intruder.

B) Discreet/Unobtrusive surveillance – often there is a need for a surveillance system that is less conspicuous, not necessarily as an attempt to hide the fact that monitoring is taking place, but more from marketing or style considerations. When introducing a covert system, it is important to recognise that access to recorded material must be kept to a minimum to ensure the privacy of individuals who may appear. A responsible policy should be introduced to ensure that footage from covert cameras is used for the purposes it was intended.

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Covert cameras are also subject to privacy considerations. No person shall use covert cameras and assume law enforcement powers in an endeavor to uncover an illicit activity, such as theft or pilfering, without involving the Police. Law enforcement authorities are the competent authorities vested with executive powers to investigate these offences and prosecute accordingly. Similarly, in case of an activity captured by a camera and which might lead to criminal charges, the relevant extract of the camera’s footage shall only be disclosed to law enforcement authorities and this subsequent to the filing of a Police report.

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Dummy camera:

When it comes to protecting our homes or business, a careful assessment of the risks is required to identify whether the investment is worthwhile. In many situations, dummy CCTV cameras can be a highly effective deterrent to criminals – yet for a fraction of the cost of live surveillance systems. So what kind of premises are dummy cameras suited to? Essentially they can work as a deterrent internally or externally in any commercial, public or residential setting. They can be used to prevent intrusions, or to deter people from criminal activity while on the premises (e.g. shoplifters). The level of risk and threat will determine whether they offer sufficient protection. For businesses that stock high value goods for example, or that are subject to high frequency crime (such as petrol stations), investment in live CCTV is the sensible option. For many types of property however this expense is not justified and dummy cameras can provide the appropriate level of protection in combination with other measures. Opportunistic criminals (who account for the vast majority of crime) won’t strike if they think there is a chance they will be caught on camera – they simply move on to less well protected opportunities.

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Night vision security camera:

For the human eye to see clearly, it must have adequate light. The same is true for security cameras. During the day, when office spaces and parking areas are properly lit by natural or florescent lighting, security cameras provide crisp images and colourful detail. At night, when those offices are closed and parking areas are dim, traditional security cameras may produce grainy video or video that is so dark the objects within the camera’s field of view are unidentifiable. In these types of security environments, installing a night vision security camera is the most economical way to produce quality 24/7 surveillance video.

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Night vision technology is delivered using one of three methods, low-light, thermal imaging and infrared illumination.

Low-light Imaging:

Low-light imaging cameras work by using image intensifiers. The intensifiers enlarge the available light to produce an amplified image. This is achieved when the object of light focuses on the photocathode of an image intensifier. The electrons hit a phosphor screen and the image is created. Intensified camera systems use intensifiers to create a clear image during low-light situations. This allows the broader image of the low-light scene to be viewed. These cameras need some light available to produce an image. However, during low-light scenes, the image they produce is excellent. Low-light cameras have the ability to identify people. These cameras are a popular choice for homeowners because they are affordable.

Thermal Imaging:

Thermal imaging technology works by operating on the principle that objects radiate infrared energy because of its temperature. This type of security camera doesn’t require light to produce an image. The higher the temperature of the object, the more infrared energy is emitted. The thermal image is created by the infrared energy. Thermal images produce black images when objects are cold and white when they are hot. You can find some thermal cameras that project images in color. Thermal imaging cameras offer a high level of thermal sensitivity. These cameras are able to detect objects at a great distance. They are not dependent on light sources.

Infrared (IR) Illumination:

IR is the abbreviation for Infrared. IR cameras have image sensors that are designed to sense and process infrared light emitted from IR LEDs. Infrared illumination combines with motion detection technology to create an effective home security camera. When the camera detects movement, the infrared illumination lights up the scene and captures the images. These cameras can display detailed images such as numbers, lettering and objects. Infrared illumination cameras are inexpensive and don’t rely on ambient light to capture images. Combined with motion detectors, they do an excellent job of monitoring the perimeter of your home. Infrared illumination works with multiple LED lights to transmit images in black and white. Black and white produces a better quality image. What makes a night vision camera unique is the way it reacts to changing light conditions and makes use of available light. Like traditional security cameras, night vision cameras provide perfect color video during the day, or when optimal light is available. However, the difference between traditional security cameras and night vision cameras is evident at night. When there isn’t enough available light to produce a quality image, the night vision camera will automatically change from a color camera to an infrared receptive black and white camera. This change enables the night vision camera to produce crisp images and fine detail in any lighting condition – even in complete darkness! Night vision security cameras do this by using filters and enhanced video imaging technology to increase its sensitivity to infrared light. This type of light is near invisible to the human eye but provides the camera with enough ambient light for clear picture quality. Because infrared is not a visible source of light, it is particularly useful in covert security installations. In addition to producing clear and detailed video in low light levels, night vision cameras will allow you to see further into the darkness than a traditional security camera. When a traditional security camera is mounted outdoors near a light fixture, the camera can see only what is immediately within its view, a 15 to 20 foot area. This is because the camera must compensate for varying degrees of dark and light. When a night vision camera is installed with IR illuminators, the view can increase from 20 feet to more than 100 feet. Many night vision cameras have IR illuminators built-in to their camera housing. Depending on the needs of your environment, night vision cameras are available with housings for indoor or outdoor use and have more or fewer IR illuminators. The more IR illuminators available, the further into the darkness your camera will see. If a night vision camera is already installed, but does not have enough available light for the camera’s field of view, a separate IR illuminator can be installed near the camera to increase its viewing distance.

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The figure below shows infrared technology used in the night vision cameras to view in absolute darkness:

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The advantages of IR (infra-red) camera:

Infra-red illuminators provide IR light which is invisible to the human eye but visible to the CCTV camera. Because IR is invisible to the human eye it is ideal for covert surveillance; the camera can see, but the intruder cannot. Further, as their light cannot be seen, IR illuminators are the perfect solution in sensitive areas where light pollution needs to be avoided; areas such as residential neighbourhoods and parks. IR illumination also works well over long distances, with illumination at ranges up to 370m. Therefore in many applications IR illumination is the perfect lighting tool for CCTV, allowing cameras to capture crisp, clear images in black & white, and optimising camera performance.

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The law relating to infrared CCTV:

When having infrared CCTV installed you must be sure you abide by the law. Infrared CCTV doesn’t usually cause problems in residential properties so long as your neighbours do not feel you are encroaching on their privacy. So as long as your infrared camera is filming only your property, and not any adjoining properties, you should be well within the Data Protection Act (in UK). However, the rules for commercial properties are different; you will need a license, so consult a CCTV installation company for advice.

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On-chip Gain Multiplication Cameras:

On-chip gain multiplication CCD cameras have become popularized for performing low-light security, surveillance and astronomical observation.  CCD image detector manufacturers have substantially improved the sensitivity of certain CCD detectors by incorporating an on-chip multiplication gain technology to multiply photon-generated charge above the detector’s noise levels. The multiplication gain takes place after photons have been detected in the device’s active area but before one of the detector’s primary noise sources (e.g. readout noise). In a new multiplication register, electrons are accelerated from pixel-to-pixel by applying high CCD clock voltages. As a result, secondary electrons are generated via an impact-ionization process. Gain can be controlled by varying the clock voltages. Because the signal boost occurs before the charge reaches the on-chip readout amplifier and gets added to the primary noise source, the signal-to-noise ratio for this device is significantly improved over standard CCD cameras and yields low-light imaging performance far superior than traditional CCD cameras.

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True day-night camera:

Day and night cameras are cameras that are able to provide video surveillance even at low levels of illumination. A day and night camera displays a full colour image during the daytime but produces monochrome (Black and white) video images at times when the lighting is poor. The camera has a device that is sensitive to the surrounding light conditions and switches the camera between colour and black & white modes automatically. It is designed to increase its light sensitivity in poor lighting conditions and at the same time reduce noise level in the images. True day-night capability is achieved by using an IR cut-filter mechanism (IRCF). Many of the sensors used in today’s security cameras are sensitive to both visible light (380nm~740nm), essentially what the human eye can see, as well as near infrared light (750nm~1100nm), which is emitted from sources such as sunlight, moonlight, halogen fixtures, etc. Unfortunately, to produce accurate colours, most of the IR light needs to be blocked or filtered out. Many cameras do this by using an IR Cut Filter, which sits in front of the sensor like a pair of ‘sunglasses’. With this True Day Night /IRCF feature the camera is equipped to remove these ‘sunglasses’ when the light levels drop below a certain threshold. This allows more of the visible light and available IR light to get to the sensor, dramatically improving low-light performance. Because of the filtering or blocking of the IR light, colour accuracy usually suffers in this mode. Most implementations also remove all colour information, yielding a black and white image that is not only vastly more usable but also cleaner without the chroma noise. The day and night camera will fail if the illumination (Lux) level is too low.

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Day & night camera vs. IR camera:

Similar to Day & Night cameras, IR cameras turned to monochrome mode when illumination falls below a certain Lux. An IR camera differs from a Day & Night camera in which an IR camera is able to capture video images in absolute darkness with the help of infrared light source. Day & Night cameras do not have infrared lights built in but uses natural infrared light. Therefore the clarity and quality of image by IR camera is better than Day & Night camera at night. However, some Day & Night cameras have in-built IR light source and therefore can be called as IR camera.

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Analog and digital image:

Analogue image:

Traditional analogue Images are recorded in some physical form, such as frequency, amplitude or in the case of a photograph, the activation of photo-chemical emulsion.

Digital image:

A digital Image is recorded as a series of binary digits (called bits) – either ones or zeroes. The image is then focused onto an electronic sensor comprising individual light-sensitive elements known as pixels (picture elements). These act as switches to modify an electrical current on or off and the information is processed by a computer. It can then be displayed on a screen, stored in a variety of media or printed out.

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Analog to digital conversion at DVR:

When analog video is digitized, the maximum amount of pixels that can be created is based on the number of TV lines available to be digitized. Once the camera captures the images that you want, it will send them through coax cable (or Cat 5 with Baluns) to the DVR. At the DVR, the images are converted from an analog signal into a digital format to be stored on a hard drive.  This is the most important part of the chain. The greatest most powerful camera will not be effective if the image is compressed down to nothing by the DVR. The two most popular DVR resolution types are CIF and D1.  CIF is defined as 320×240 pixels and D1 is 720×480.  As you can tell, D1 is 4 times larger than CIF. That means that the raw analog signal of the camera will be compressed less, giving you better detail.

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A digital image is either a digital still photograph or a sequence of digital video which can be viewed on a suitable display medium (including, for example, a computer monitor, a digital television, a CCTV monitor or a print out). A photograph or sequence of video is digital if it is stored in binary format in memory (including, for example, DVDs, CD-ROMs, diskettes, RAM, hard drives, RAID Arrays and tape streamer systems). Digital images can be contrasted with more familiar analog images which are typically captured as a variation in some physical property of the recording medium (including, for example, VHS cassettes or photographic film). The binary nature of digital images gives them certain advantages over analog images. For example, digital images are generally easier to copy perfectly than analog images. Moreover, because a digital image is simply recorded as a set of data in computer memory, it is generally easier to process a digital image than an analog one. Such processing could, for example, include image enhancement or image analysis. It could also include image manipulation. In addition, before a digital image is even stored in memory it is likely to have undergone some processing. Often such processing will involve the compression of the digital image in order to save memory or to make the digital image easier to transmit across a network onto a storage/viewing device. A common example of this compression processing is the DVD. This shows that digital image compression does not necessarily impair image quality.

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Pixel as resolution of digital image:

A pixel is generally thought of as the smallest single component of a digital image. It is the smallest controllable element of a picture represented on the screen. The address of a pixel corresponds to its physical coordinates. LCD pixels are manufactured in a two-dimensional grid, and are often represented using dots or squares, but CRT pixels correspond to their timing mechanisms and sweep rates. The more pixels used to represent an image, the closer the result can resemble the original. The number of pixels in an image is sometimes called the resolution, though resolution has a more specific definition. Pixel counts can be expressed as a single number, as in a “three-megapixel” digital camera, which has a nominal three million pixels, or as a pair of numbers, as in a “640 by 480 display”, which has 640 pixels from side to side and 480 from top to bottom (as in a VGA display), and therefore has a total number of 640×480 = 307,200 pixels or 0.3 megapixels. Megapixel IP cameras are now quite commonly delivering 1280 X 1024 pixels. Simply multiply the two numbers to express the resolution in megapixels e.g. 1280 X 1024 = 1.31 megapixels. Two, three and five megapixel cameras have quickly become available, and plainly can deliver much greater image detail than traditional analogue CCTV cameras. There are already IP cameras capable of delivering 16 or even 21 megapixel images. These cameras can deliver images of whole street scenes for recording. There is so much resolution within those images that the recordings can be expanded to reveal facial identity after an event.

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The figure above shows increase in image resolution from 0.4 megapixel to 3 megapixel.

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Analog resolution in TVL and digital resolution in pixel can be correlated approximately.

520TVL equates to 752 X 582 pixels.

TVL = horizontal pixels X 0.7 i.e. 750 pixels is approximately 525 lines.

The maximum resolution a conventional analog camera can provide after the video signal has been digitized in a digital video recorder or a video encoder is D1, which is 720 X 480 pixels (NTSC) or 720 X 576 pixels (PAL).

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Components of CCTV:

A CCTV system consists of three components, cameras, digital video recorders, and monitors.  Cameras capture the images, the digital video recorder, usually called a “DVR” records the images and the recorded images are viewed through a video monitor.

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Simple CCTV system:

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The camera is the element which captures the image and transmits it back to a monitor. The camera needs a lens to be able to focus on the subject. There are a wide variety of lenses to suit different applications. The monitor is the receiver unit which converts the captured image into a picture, allowing you to see it.

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Recording the CCTV:

CCTV system set-up featuring camera, lens, DVR and monitor.

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As it is not usually practical to have a dedicated person to sit and watch a monitor 24 hours a day, the image captured by the camera needs to be recorded so that it can be viewed later, if necessary. Traditionally, this was done with a time lapse Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) which worked on the same principle as an ordinary domestic video but with the ability to record for a much longer period of time. However, the VCR has now been superseded by the Digital Video Recorder (DVR).  The DVR stores the images on to a disk drive in the same way a home computer stores data. A DVR recording lasts longer than a video tape, it does not wear out and the quality of the image is superior. You can also search for an incident easily by time and date.

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A multi camera CCTV system:

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Multiplexer:

Most commercial systems today comprise of more than one camera, but you don’t need a monitor and recorder for each camera; several cameras can share one monitor and hard disc recorder or VNA. Equipment is available that will split the monitor into displaying four cameras at once, or a four way sequence unit can be used which allows you to choose which camera you would like to view. Alternatively, the automatic mode will sequence through the four cameras that are connected. However, the most common way of controlling multiple cameras is via a multiplexer. To keep it simple, a multiplexer incorporates the above facilities but also has the ability to individually code mark each image from each camera and because of this, a multiplexer allows all of the cameras on a system to be recorded onto one tape or hard drive unit. The multiplexer then uses these code marks to play back the recorded picture from the camera that you wish to view. Historically multiplexers and recording units were separate pieces of equipment, but recently a number of manufactures have developed units that do both jobs. Multiplexers digitise incoming analogue camera video signals. They then synchronise them by interleaving fields from different cameras and re-converting the digital data back to analogue for recording by an analogue VCR. So internally, a multiplexer already exploits digital technology, but in a rather half-hearted manner. Once digitised, why convert the data back to analogue with a further loss of quality? Digital video recorders already integrate most of the functions of VCRs and multiplexers, with the result that most manufacturers are phasing out multiplexers due to the extremely low demand.

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Switchers:

A simple video switcher is designed to direct the signal from one of a series of cameras to a monitor. Most switchers have a control to enable the monitor to sequence automatically through each camera in turn. Some switchers can provide output to two monitors. One monitor can be locked on to a specific camera while the other sequences. Matrix switchers are now becoming common place in the market due to the development of microprocessor technology. This type of switcher can process the signals from a large number of cameras to many monitors. There can also be many control positions, each of which can call up any of the cameras. In a railway system for instance, it is possible to have two hundred stations each with twenty cameras. Each station would have individual control of its own cameras to sequence or select. All the stations would be connected back to a central location that could control all four thousand cameras. The central control could then be divided into say ten regions each with a control and bank of monitors for its own group of cameras.

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Multiple Screen Displays:

Any system that combines more than one video signal is technically a multiplexer. These days it is customary to refer to multiplexers as equipment that can simultaneously combine eight or more signals, otherwise they are known as screen splitters or quad splitters. There will be many occasions when it will be advantageous to display more than one camera on the monitor at once. To display or record more than one picture at a time it is necessary on most systems to convert the analogue signal to a digital form. This is known as analogue to digital conversion. After processing, the signal then has to be converted back to analogue form to be displayed on a monitor. This process introduces the possibility of degradation to the original picture. Definition can be lost through the complicated conversion processes and noise can be added to the signal. Also, the final quality is dependent on the resolution in terms of the number of pixels comprising the digital information.

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Picture in Picture:

This is a simple system by which one scene can be inserted in another. The camera outputs are connected to a controller that allows one camera to be designated as the main picture. The other camera is designated as the inserted picture. The inserted picture may be positioned and sized anywhere on the screen.

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Screen Splitters:

This is similar to a picture in picture inserter except that both camera scenes can be adjusted to compose the most useful combination. A screen splitter refers to a combination of two cameras. The split can be arranged either horizontally or vertically. The degree of overlap of either camera can also be adjusted. Screen splitters also require the cameras to be synchronised.

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Quad Screen Splitters :

As the name implies, this system allows the presentation of four cameras on the one screen. The majority of quad splitters now incorporate digital image processing. This means that it is not necessary to synchronise the cameras and the picture is digitally compressed to a quarter of its size. The four images are then displayed on a single screen. Note that each picture will only be 25% of the screen resolution. There are many features that may be available with quad screen splitters and it is essential to check with manufacturers’ literature for particular models. As always, the more features it provides the more expensive a unit is likely to be. It is possible to spend more than necessary if poor selection of a piece of equipment includes more features than are required. Another factor to check out is the resolution of the displayed pictures.

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Analog & digital recording:

The era of analog closed circuit television (CCTV) systems is coming to an end. The multiplexer, video cassette recorder, switcher and all of those T-160 tapes are being replaced with computers, embedded processors, capture cards, encoders, decoders, codecs, redundant array of disks (RAID), network video recorders and 10/100/gigabyte/optical networks, and that’s only the beginning of the list. With an analog system, the term “horizontal lines of resolution” dictated what the video quality and recording quality was.

Types of digital recording:

There are two types of digital recording: direct digital and encoded digital. It is important to recognize the differences between the two. Direct digital is much like a digital photographic camera, which captures pictures directly. As a result, the direct digital image (also called a frame) has a great deal of information. Some of these cameras are described as mega-pixel cameras, because the information (picture) captured can be very detailed. The larger the number of mega-pixels, the greater the detail and commensurate file size of the picture. These pictures are 100 percent digital. They are not scanned or converted and can be captured in a variety of formats, including JPEG. The second type of digital recording — encoded digital — involves encoding or capturing analog frames of video and converting them to digital pictures. Although the term “frame” is used in discussions of both digital and analog video, it has somewhat different meanings in each case. As it relates to analog, a frame refers to a single picture that interlaces two fields, which are painted onto an analog monitor as a single frame. By comparison, one frame in the digital world equates to a single photo or digital picture file. Digital recording captures the scene or the analog video picture-by-picture or frame-by-frame. The individual frames, created by either analog or digital, create the appearance of motion, but in reality the movement is just a grouping of images presented very quickly. The biggest difference between encoded and direct digital is the amount of information captured. The information captured by a digital camera is only limited to the number of pixels that can be captured in a field of view. As with digital photographic cameras, an eight mega-pixel unit captures less information than a 10 mega-pixel camera. By contrast, when analog video is encoded to a digital file, the only information available is information that has already been captured. A 400-line camera that is encoded to digital still is limited to the 400 lines that were originally captured. Although these horizontal lines of resolution are converted to digital, there is no magic process that will add information to an analog frame/field that was previously captured. As a result, the video captured cannot be enhanced — an important distinction to be aware of when it comes to direct and encoded digital CCTV. The data from digital files is large, which is why data storage and transmission are big concerns. Digital video utilizes proprietary conversion methods called codecs to strip information from the files, thereby reducing their size. This information can include image size, colors, grayscale, frames-per-second, etc.

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Analog and Digital/ IP (internet protocol) CCTV:

1. Analog CCTV is a method of recording analog video and analog audio using VHS (video home system) magnetic tape on a VCR (video cassette recorder) that can play back the recording.

2. Digital CCTV uses computer technology to digitize CCTV camera images and compress them. CCTV can be stored on a PC-based system or a dedicated digital video recorder (DVR) to play back the recording. A more advanced form of CCTV, utilizing digital video recorders (DVRs), provides recording for possibly many years, with a variety of quality and performance options and extra features (such as motion detection and email alerts). More recently, decentralized IP cameras, some equipped with megapixel sensors, support recording directly to network-attached storage devices, or internal flash for completely stand-alone operation.

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The figure below shows difference in image quality vis-à-vis analog CCTV and IP CCTV:

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Analog CCTV:

Analog CCTV systems use one of two main conduits to transmit audio-visual information. The first, and most common, is a wired configuration. The second uses a wireless transmitter to connect to a receiver. Wired CCTV installations run a cable or wire between the camera and the monitor. The image data is usually transmitted over a coaxial cable. The audio is usually transmitted over a simple copper wire or wires. The signal transmitted over these wires and cables is then fed in to a monitor or a set of monitors if the image needs to be visible in different locations. A multiplexer can be used to display feeds from multiple cameras on a single monitor. Each camera’s picture would take up a pre-set amount of space on the monitor. Analog CCTV cameras can also be routed to an image capture board on a computer to allow the audio-visual information to be viewed on a computer monitor. Wireless CCTV installations are similar to wired. The difference is that a radio transmitter is attached to the camera. A radio receiver is then attached to the input on the monitor system or computer. Wireless systems are useful in a couple of situations. The first is when the distance between the camera and the monitor is too far to be practical for a cable run. Wireless CCTV is also good when cables aren’t practical because of aesthetic reasons.

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Analog CCTV System Design:

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In the traditional analog CCTV application, security cameras capture an analog video signal and transfer that signal over coax cable to the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Each camera may be powered by plugging in the power supply right at the camera or by using RG59 Siamese cable which bundles the video and the power cables. The DVR converts the analog signal to digital, compresses it, and then stores it on a hard drive for later retrieval. Intelligence is built into the DVR to handle such things as scheduling, motion detection, and digital zoom. Monitors for viewing the video are connected to the DVR, or it can be set up to publish over an internal network for viewing on PCs. The DVR can also be set up to broadcast over the Internet and can add password protection and other features. When broadcasting over the Internet, the video for all of the cameras is transmitted as one stream (one IP address). Therefore, it is very efficient.

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The advantages of standard definition (SD) CCTV:

You may see standard CCTV referred to as SD (standard definition), traditional, conventional or analog (or analogue) CCTV or digital output SD CCTV. All these terms usually refer to the same CCTV technology.

What are the advantages with a standard CCTV system?

1. Analog CCTV systems are often less expensive overall:

Analog CCTV products are at this point in time still cheaper than their IP counterparts – NVRs can be twice as expensive as a DVR for example. The installation of an analog surveillance system can also be less expensive because they are quicker to install with minimal network set-up and configuration. However in some situations a single IP camera can be installed in the place of a number of standard CCTV cameras so I recommend looking at both options before making a final decision.

2. Analog CCTV systems are easier to maintain:

Overall standard CCTV security systems need little maintenance once installed. I recommend a basic check once a week to confirm all cameras are recording and footage can be retrieved from the DVR. Because an analog system is not attached to the business or home network it won’t be at the mercy of network issues. Large file sizes, limitations to the bandwidth, viruses or too many devices trying to use the network (congestion) are just some of the challenges facing the installation and ongoing maintenance of an IP system.

3. Analog CCTV cameras can perform better in some environments:

Depending on the environment an analog security camera may perform better than an IP camera in the same position. Situations where this may occur include:

•Low light: The CMOS image sensors normally used in IP cameras deliver great HD resolution but do not handle low light very well. Some IP cameras will produce a grainy picture at low light (which also uses up bandwidth and storage space because it is interpreted as motion). Many analog cameras use a CCD image sensor which has much better low light performance.

•Darkness: Most analog surveillance camera include in-built IR (infrared) that allows the camera to record images even in complete darkness. While IP cameras will record down to a very low level of light if they need to record in zero lux, separate IR illuminators will need to be installed.

•Fluorescent lighting: Fluorescent lighting is used in many indoor spaces and it can create problems, particularly for IP cameras. The frequency of the fluorescent lighting and the power source can clash which creates a constant flicker on the live and recorded video image. Accurate colour information may also be affected. Note that this problem can also affect some standard analogue CCTV cameras with CCD image sensors.

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There are already several camcorders on the market that produce a digital output instead of an analogue video signal. These record onto a miniature DAT (Digital AudioTape) in digital form or download straight to codecs. The playback can be either via a digital to analogue converter in to a conventional monitor, or direct by RGB input to a computer monitor. The direct input into a computer monitor will provide a significant improvement in resolution and colour rendering. The recording capability for CCTV is still limited by the current problems of compression and storage capacity, but this is advancing rapidly and soon will not be the main problem. These cameras do not require a video capture card because they work using a digital signal which can be saved directly to a computer. The signal is compressed 5:1, but DVD quality can be achieved with more compression (MPEG-2 is standard for DVD-video, and has a higher compression ratio than 5:1, with a slightly lower video quality than 5:1 at best, and is adjustable for the amount of space to be taken up versus the quality of picture needed or desired). The highest picture quality of DVD is only slightly lower than the quality of basic 5:1-compression DV.

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Talking CCTV:

Talking CCTV is a CCTV surveillance camera that is equipped with a speaker to allow an operator to speak to the people at the CCTV-monitored site. Messages are typically designed for each specific location. Research has shown that although people will only obey a written notice to leave in 7% of cases, they will obey an audible command 92% of the time.

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Signal to noise ratio (SNR):

The arch enemy of picture clarity on a monitor is noise; this is electronic noise that is present to some extent in all video signals. Noise manifests itself as snow or graininess over the whole picture on the monitor. There are several sources of noise; poor circuit design, heat, over-amplification, external influences, automatic gain control, transmission systems such as microwave, infrared etc. The important factor that determines the tolerance of noise is the amount of noise in the video signal, the signal to noise ratio. Note that every time that a video signal is processed in any way, noise is introduced. The only real way to reduce noise lies in correct system design, selection of equipment and transmission systems. Once it is there, it won’t go away and can only get worse.

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Automatic gain control (AGC):

When the light falling on to an imaging device reduces to a certain level, it is insufficient to create a full level video signal. AGC acts to increase the amount of amplification in these conditions to bring the signal up to the required level. As well as amplifying the video signal, additional noise can be introduced, and the signal to noise ratio reduced. The result is frequently a very much degraded signal and poor picture on the monitor.

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CCTV video retention period:

Under normal circumstances, a retention period of seven days is considered to be a sufficient and reasonable time for the keeping of CCTV camera recordings. After the lapse of this period, images are automatically deleted or overwritten by new images. However, this depends on various technical characteristics of the system and other factors.

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Digital CCTV:

CCTV installations can also be digital. Digital CCTV often uses Internet Protocol (IP) cameras although digital CCTV can be without IP camera using analog/digital DSP camera, DVR and monitors. An IP camera is a camera that contains the camera and hardware to convert the audio and video signals to a stream of packets that can then be transmitted over a local area network (LAN), wide area network, (WAN) or even over the internet. Digital CCTV has many advantages over analog. First, it can use existing wired or wireless internet, including Wi-Fi. Because of this, it isn’t limited by distance. A CCTV camera can be set up in one city and have its signal transmitted easily to another city. Another advantage of digital CCTV is that a series of cameras can be routed to a wireless hub, thus minimizing the amount of cabling required for a complex installation.

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Conventional analog vs. digital IP camera:

An analog surveillance camera begins with a CCD sensor and then digitizes the image for processing. But before it can transmit the video, it needs to convert it back to analog so it can be received by an analog device, such as a video monitor or recorder (VCR). Unlike IP cameras, analog have no built-in web servers or encoders and require no technical maintenance. These functions are implemented in the recording and/or control equipment. What is commonly known as an IP camera is a camera that digitizes and processes analog images, encodes them internally, and then transmits the video information digitally over an Ethernet connection to a computer or similar device. An IP camera can have either a CMOS or a CCD sensor, and is available in the same styles as traditional surveillance cameras such as Pan/Tilt/Zoom, domes, bullets, box, infrared, covert, and wireless. For an IP camera the image is then compressed internally (encoded) and transmitted via an IP protocol (Ethernet) and is either stored in the camera or on a network video recorder (NVR). For an analog camera, the image is then converted back to analog by a digital-to-analog converter so the image can be transmitted to a video monitor, to VCR or a digital video recorder (DVR), where the image is encoded and stored. DVR reconverts analog signals into digital signals using DAC. At this point, it seems the difference between the two types of cameras is negligible. Primarily, the difference is where the video is compressed and what components it utilizes.

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IP camera (network camera):

An Internet protocol camera, or IP camera, is a type of digital video camera commonly employed for surveillance, and which unlike analog closed circuit television cameras can send and receive data via a computer network and the Internet. Although most cameras that do this are webcams, the term “IP camera” or “netcam” is usually applied only to those used for surveillance. The first centralized IP camera was Axis Neteye 200, released in 1996 by Axis Communications. Analog closed circuit television uses established broadcast television formats (e.g. Common Intermediate Format (CIF), NTSC, PAL, and SECAM). Generally speaking, each make of IP camera will differ in its features and functions, video encoding (compression) schemes, available network protocols, and the API to be used by video management software. In order to address issues of standardization of IP video surveillance, two industry groups were formed in 2008: the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) and the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA). While the PSIA was founded by 20 member companies including Honeywell, GE Security and Cisco, and ONVIF was founded by Axis Communications, Bosch and Sony, each group now has numerous members. As of January 2009, each group had released version 1.0 of their specification.

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There are two kinds of IP cameras:

•Centralized IP cameras, which require a central Network Video Recorder (NVR) to handle the recording, video and alarm management.

•Decentralized IP cameras, which do not require a central Network Video Recorder (NVR), as the cameras have recording function built-in and can thus record directly to any standard storage media, such as SD cards, NAS (network attached storage) or a PC/Server.

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IP cameras or network cameras have an embedded video server having an IP address, capable of streaming the video (and sometimes, even audio). Because network cameras are embedded devices, and do not need to output an analogue signal, resolutions higher than closed-circuit television ‘CCTV’ analogue cameras are possible. A typical analogue CCTV camera has a PAL (768×576 pixels) or NTSC (720×480 pixels), whereas network cameras may have VGA (640×480 pixels), SVGA (800×600 pixels) or quad-VGA (1280×960 pixels, also referred to as “megapixel”) resolutions. An analogue or digital camera connected to a video server acts as a network camera, but the image size is restricted to that of the video standard of the camera. Network cameras can be used for very cheap surveillance solutions (requiring one network camera, some Ethernet cabling, and one PC), or to replace entire CCTV installations (cameras become network cameras, tape recorders become DVRs, and CCTV monitors become computers with TFT screens and specialised software. Digital video manufacturers claim that turning CCTV installations into digital video installations is inherently better). There continues to be much debate over the merits and price-for-performance of Network cameras as compared to analog cameras. Many in the CCTV industry claim that many analog cameras can outperform network cameras at a lower price.

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IP cameras are typically equipped with an embedded web server and can be accessed and controlled over any IP network such as a WAN, LAN, Intranet, or Internet. By utilizing a standard web browser or client software users can view an IP camera’s video output from any local or remote location. IP cameras combine the capabilities of a camera with some PC functionality, do not require a direct connection to a PC to operate, and can be placed anywhere within a network. Just like any other PC on the network, an IP camera is a “network appliance”. It has its own IP address, connects directly to a wired or wireless network and requires maintenance. With the advent of IP or Network cameras, the method of installing CCTV system changes dramatically. These IP cameras are plug and play devices as far as the network is concerned. They are easy to integrate into corporate LANs or WANs. There is no need for multiplexing, coaxial cabling, balun adapters, CCTV keyboards, analog VCRs and tapes. An IP camera takes the video, compresses it and sends it over the LAN to a network attached storage (NAS) device, a storage area network (SAN) or a video server. An IP camera is always streaming video across the network, and therefore, is always using bandwidth. Hence a separate or segmented LAN is recommended to avoid bottleneck issues on the main corporate network. However, some IP cameras now incorporate both server and DVR functions and this helps to limit some of the bandwidth impact. The connection to the LAN is via 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet.

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Power over Ethernet (POE):

Power over Ethernet or PoE describes any of several standardized or ad-hoc systems which pass electrical power along with data on Ethernet cabling. This allows a single cable to provide both data connection and electrical power to devices such as wireless access points or IP cameras. Most network cameras can be fed with their power via the same network cable that will carry the video data back to the network. Recent developments now allow for higher power devices such as pan, tilt, zoom cameras and lights to be fed via POE. Even external camera housing heaters can now be fed via POE. Traditional analogue CCTV cameras would normally require an electrician to provide an adjacent mains supply, or at the very least to be fed power separately via a second low-voltage supply cable.

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Transmission of video along telephone lines or fiber optic cable requires an analogue to digital converter (ADC) to be incorporated in the transmitter and the reverse digital to analogue converter (DAC) at the receiving end. Using a direct digital output from the IP camera will render the ADC unnecessary, thus saving cost. When equipment is available that can accept a digital signal then the DAC will not be required providing further savings. It will no longer to use coaxial cable with all its problems of connectors and limited range. Instead, simple twisted pair cables can be used with greatly improved distances and quality.  Multiplexers need to convert the analogue signal to a digital signal to hold in the frame store; again, this will be unnecessary. Every time a conversion from one form of signal to another is rendered unnecessary, there will be an improvement in resolution and picture quality.

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IP / Network CCTV System Design:

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In the IP world, each network camera captures an analog image but immediately converts it to digital inside the camera. Some digital processing can happen right at the camera, such as compression and motion detection. The digital video stream is then broadcast over the local area network (LAN) using Ethernet (CAT5 or CAT6) cable. Power is supplied to the cameras through the ethernet cable via Power-Over-Ethernet (POE) adapters built into the cameras and at the (POE enabled) switch. The ethernet cable for each camera is plugged into the switch which feeds into the network hub. As with all network devices, some set-up needs to be done for each network camera to set up its IP address and other identifying attributes. A Network Video Recorder (NVR) performs the same function as its DVR cousin in the analog world. It captures each camera’s signal, compresses, and records it. The main difference is that the video feeds are digital (and much higher resolution) and not analog. Software built into the NVR provides features such as intelligent search and zoom, etc. The NVR combines the video streams from the cameras and handles the broadcast over the LAN and internet for local and remote viewing.

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How IP CCTV system works:

Utilising existing IP networks:

Most organisations now have IP-based computer networks with connections to the Internet. IP cameras can simply be added to such networks, extending its functionality to include video.

Video monitoring:

IP cameras and recorded video footage can be viewed using computers on the local network, or remotely via the Internet. User access can be limited by using passwords and IP filtering, and video can be encrypted for additional security.

Video encoders:

Existing analogue CCTV cameras do not have to be wasted. The analogue output of CCTV cameras can be digitised using video encoders, enabling the video signals to be sent over IP networks.

Recording:

Using video management software (VMS), video can be recorded and stored on computers that are part of the network. The footage can be viewed by authorised users, either locally or remotely. As an alternative to using video management software, recording and video management can also be done using a dedicated network video recorder (NVR). This is added to the network in the same way a PC or server would be added.

Video decoders:

Existing analogue monitoring equipment does not have to be discarded either. If video monitoring is required on an existing CCTV monitors, video decoders can be used to convert IP signals back to analogue.

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Potential advantages of IP CCTV system:

•Two-way audio via a single network cable allows users to communicate with what they are seeing (e.g. gas station clerk assisting a customer on how to use the pay pumps)

•Flexibility: IP cameras can be moved around anywhere on a network (wireless).

•Distributed intelligence: with IP cameras, video analytics can be placed in the camera itself allowing ability in analytics solutions.

•Transmission of commands for PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) cameras via a single network.

•Encryption & authentication: IP cameras offer secure data transmission through encryption and authentication methods such as WPA, WPA2, TKIP, AES.

•Remote accessibility: live video from selected cameras can be viewed from any computer, anywhere, and also from many mobile smart-phones and other devices. Remote accessibility also prevents police officers from confiscating video and audio evidence that you can use against them.

•IP cameras are able to function on a wireless network.

•PoE – Power over Ethernet: Modern IP cameras have the ability to operate without a power supply. They can work with the PoE-protocol.

•IP camera communication signals are not just electronic voltage; it is numerically decoded as bits and bytes with security features and TCP/IP protocol.

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Potential disadvantages of IP CCTV system:

•Higher initial cost per camera, except where cheaper webcams are used.

•High network bandwidth requirements: a typical CCTV camera with resolution of 640×480 pixels and 10 frames per second (10 frame/s) in MJPEG mode requires about 3 Mbit/s.

•As with a CCTV/DVR system, if the video is transmitted over the public Internet rather than a private IP LAN, the system becomes open to a wider audience of hackers and hoaxers. Criminals can hack into a CCTV system to observe security measures and personnel, thereby facilitating criminal acts and rendering the surveillance counterproductive.

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Comparison of analog CCTV system and IP CCTV system:

Analog continues to dominate the security market representing 80% to 90% of the market (depending upon whose numbers you subscribe to.) More importantly, these figures do not take into account the significance of tens of millions of analog cameras, DVRs and the legacy infrastructure currently in service. Customers with substantial investments in analog infrastructure are interested in getting a longer useful life out of their current systems, especially in these trying economic times.  By comparison, IP based CCTV solutions are more costly than analog systems of comparable quality, more complex to install and require extensive supplementary management. The issue is for decades analog video systems as well as access control and alarm systems were installed and you forgot them; little “technical” maintenance was required. The customer was not interested in hiring expensive professional staff to maintain esoteric systems.  Where the incentive for change to IP cameras is greatest is in applications that are not supported well by analog such as megapixel recording, analytics on the edge and large scale wireless transmission. Of the IP cameras sold, high megapixel cameras represent a fraction of 1% of the overall market. From a “future-proofing” perspective, hybrid DVRs, which accommodate both analog and IP cameras, offer expandability without limitation to transmission method.

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Analog camera systems transmit over coax, not the LAN, so their bandwidth is not much of an issue. The only use of the LAN in analog systems is for the DVR to broadcast video data over the network to local desktop users or to the internet. DVRs tend to broadcast video very efficiently and will only use bandwidth if people are currently viewing the cameras. In IP camera systems on the other hand, each IP camera uses the LAN to broadcast their signal to the NVR so bandwidth can be a big issue. As a general rule, an IP camera using full CIF (352 x 288) resolution, 30 frames per second (30 fps), and MPEG4 compression will require about 720K bits per second (720Kbps). Therefore, if we put 100 IP cameras running CIF on a network, we would use about 72Mbps of bandwidth. This number will double if audio is also transmitted. However, to make bandwidth matters worse for IP – most of the newest IP cameras are coming out with ‘megapixel’ resolution. This is wonderful from the standpoint of how much clarity and field-of-view can be captured, but it comes at a huge price to bandwidth. A single 2-megapixel IP camera, running 30 fps with MPEG4 compression will use a whopping 6.5Mbps of bandwidth. It should come as no surprise then that some companies have gone so far as to create an entirely separate IP network just to run their camera system.

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Advantages of IP CCTV over conventional CCTV:

The Surveillance Market globally has ‘tipped’ from traditional CCTV to IP cameras. In the last year, for new projects in the US and Europe, it has become clear that IP camera sales are outpacing analogue sales. Among enterprise projects, IP’s predominance is almost shocking with more than 75% of new projects going with IP. There are some benefits and reasons to choose IP Surveillance over traditional CCTV.

1. Resolution: An analogue camera of 540TVL equates to about 0.4 MP, whereas a standard IP camera of 2 MP, can give over 5 times that resolution. With some IP cameras ranging up to 10MP, it’s easy to see how the technology can cut down on the overall number of cameras required. A typical example would be replacing PTZs on a garage forecourt with one IP/Megapixel camera.

2. Remote Access: You can login into a secure server remotely, using a web-based interface, to view real-time footage on PCs or Macs, as well as mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and Android. Programs such as TeamViewer also allow for remote support and end-user training.

3. Analytics: The dramatic improvements in hardware have been matched by powerful Analytics Software. Video Management Systems (VMS) can be combined with other software to allow for applications such as license plate recognition, people counting, and motion detection.

4.  Power: IP cameras utilize Ethernet cables which allow for Power over Ethernet (PoE), meaning only one cable per camera is required, to carry both power and data. Furthermore, if re-wiring would prove too costly, it is possible to install a device such as Veracity’s Highwire which can allow data and PoE over coax cable.

5. Hybrid: High end Network Video Recorders (NVRs), such as the Minotaur Server, allow existing CCTV cameras to be incorporated into the IP system. This can significantly reduce the initial costs, and allow a phased approach towards a complete IP Surveillance solution.

6. Scalability:  Utilizing edge processing, and individual camera licensing, it is possible to scale from a single camera up to thousands.

7. Redundancy: It is possible to record simultaneously to a Network Video Recorder (NVR), and a SD card installed locally on the IP camera. This offers an additional safety net to recover footage in the event of damage/corruption to data on the main NVR.

8. Lossless Playback: Footage can be reviewed with multiple zoom on playback, even on fixed lens cameras, with no degradation of the image. This alleviates a common problem with analogue systems, where high levels of compression can often leave the image unreadable.

9.  Open Standards: Video Management Systems (VMS), such as ExacqVision, are based on the global standards defined by ONVIF. This allows for interoperability of cameras from various manufacturers, across a single network.

10. Wireless: If it’s possible to get a line-of-sight between the camera and the server’s location, it is possible to reduce cabling costs by transmitting the data wirelessly, using a product such as the Ubiquiti NanoStation.

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CCTV cables:

Coaxial Cable:

CCTV signals are sent with DC current, which loses power as it moves through the cable. Coax is designed to carry high-frequency signals, and to protect those signals against electromagnetic interference (EMI) from external sources. It’s a fairly common type of shielded data transmission cable, which is made up of two conductors that are coaxially oriented (hence the name), but separated by a layer of insulation. CCTV video signals are commonly transmitted using coaxial cable. Coaxial cable is designed to transmit the complete video frequency range with minimum distortion or attenuation, making it an excellent choice for CCTV. Coaxial cables are also available in different RG types. RG stands for Radio Guide and is a term used when sending Radio Frequency (RF) signals down a coaxial cable. An RG 59 cable is the most commonly used coax because it is smaller in diameter and easy to work with. Check that the cable is properly sized for the distance between your camera and your receiver. For instance, RG59 cable is frequently used in CCTV installations, but for runs longer than 1,000 feet you need RG6 or RG11 cable to avoid too much signal loss.

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Can analog cables be used in digital applications?

Yes, up to a point; but the looser tolerances of older analog cable designs will limit their run lengths, at least when used in high-bandwidth applications like SDI video.

Can digital cables be used in analog applications? Yes, absolutely; the same tight tolerances which make digital cables appropriate for digital applications make them superb for analog applications. One may not “need” the improvement, but it will never hurt, and can help. SDI coax, like Belden 1694A, costs very little more than (and in many cases less than) traditional analog coax designs, and will outperform it on every measure of analog cable performance.

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Why CATV (cable TV) cable does not work on CCTV system:

When pricing out the cable to use to build a Closed Circuit Television System (CCTV) to connect cameras to a central monitor location, many system operators are seduced by the much cheaper price of CATV cable. After all the specs quoted about the transmission at, say 300 MHz look really good, so after all that cable should work really well for video transmission, right?  No, wrong!! While the loss of the CATV type of coaxial cable is quite low at very high frequencies such as 300 MHz, the loss at video frequencies is quite high; therefore picture content may be quite dim by comparison to cable intended for use for CCTV purposes. The reason for this difference at video frequencies (D.C. to 5MHz) is that the center conductor of the CATV type of coaxial cable is made of copper plated steel, not pure the oxygen-free copper needed for low loss at video frequencies. Steel is lower in price than copper, thus the lower price of the CATV cable. As we all know, steel has a much higher resistance (thus loss) than pure copper, therefore the CATV type of cable is not at all suitable for CCTV purposes. The reason that the CATV systems can use the steel center conductor cable is that at the higher frequencies used by that industry, the copper plating is thick enough so that none of the RF energy penetrates into the steel core and thus induce loss. It is the skin effect that makes this possible. In this case the CATV Industry only uses the steel to help support the cable between the house and the telephone pole.

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Wireless CCTV:

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Wireless security cameras are closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras that transmit a video and audio signal to a wireless receiver through a radio band. Many wireless security cameras require at least one cable or wire for power; “wireless” refers to the transmission of video/audio. However, some wireless security cameras are battery-powered, making the cameras truly wireless from top to bottom. Wireless cameras are proving very popular among modern security consumers due to their low installation costs (there is no need to run expensive video extension cables) and flexible mounting options; wireless cameras can be mounted/installed in locations previously unavailable to standard wired cameras. In addition to the ease of use and convenience of access, wireless security camera allows users to leverage broadband wireless internet to provide seamless video streaming over-internet. Wireless security cameras function best when there is a clear line of sight between the camera(s) and the receiver. Outdoors, and with clear line of sight, digital wireless cameras typically have a range between 250 to 450 feet. Indoors, the range can be limited to 100 to 150 feet. Cubical walls, drywall, glass, and windows generally do not degrade wireless signal strength. Brick, concrete floors, and walls degrade signal strength. Trees that are in the line of sight of the wireless camera and receiver may impact signal strength. The signal range also depends on whether there are competing signals using the same frequency as the camera. For example, signals from cordless phones or routers may affect signal strength. When this happens, the camera image may freeze, or appear “choppy”. Typical solution involves locking the channel that wireless router operates on.

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Analog wireless camera:

Analog wireless is the transmission of audio and video signals using radio frequencies. Typically, analog wireless has a transmission range of around 300 feet (91 meters) in open space; walls, doors, and furniture will reduce this range.

Digital wireless cameras:

Digital wireless is the transmission of audio and video analog signals encoded as digital packets over high-bandwidth radio frequencies.

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Wireless IP CCTV System Design:

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IP Wireless security camera system design is very similar to standard IP camera system design except for the addition of wireless access points inserted between the home network switch and the cameras. This allows you to place cameras up to 1.5 miles (plus up to 328 feet of Ethernet cable) away from your local area network (LAN).

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Advantages of wireless CCTV:

1. Easy and inexpensive installation and setup – It takes a long time to set up a traditional CCTV but it takes just 3-4 hours to install a wireless CCTV. Wired cameras have to be mounted on walls. You need to fix a wall mount first and then mount the camera. There is no need or digging and drilling to install the cables. These steps are not needed for a wireless CCTV because it can be easily connected to an IP camera or other IP hardware like DVRs.

2.  No wires and no tangles – These days there are too much wires and cables all over a home. There are wires for TV, computers and all other electric gadgets. Wires all over a room can affect the looks of a room. Moreover, the wires and cables get tangled with each other. Dust keeps on accumulating on them. It is difficult to remove the dust from these wires. No wires’ is a big plus for wireless CCTV.

3. Mobility -You can move your IP cameras to any place you wish. You need not worry about reinstalling the camera. It is mobile and can be carried anywhere you like. You can change the area of access from time to time.

4. Flexibility – Wired cameras cannot be installed in all places that you want. Wireless cameras can be installed even in high places because you need no switch boards and other outlets.

5. Compact size – IP cameras are compact in size. They are easy to carry and good to look at. They can be concealed in a corner or in shelves,

6. Reduced maintenance – Cable maintenance is one of the important costs incurred in wired CCTV. You can save the cost and time spent for cable maintenance. The line leasing costs are also saved.

7.  Retrieval of videos – It is easy to retrieve the videos stored from IP cameras. You have scope of remote access to the data with smart phones and iPads. You can have a live footage on your phone.

8. Coverage – The coverage of IP cameras in wireless CCTV vary depending upon the price and model. There are cameras that can receive signals from a distance of up to 10 miles or more. You have the option of choosing a camera to suit your needs and your budget.

9. Security – Wireless CCTV is the best option for motion detection. It records every single movement and when you have live footage, you are assured of more security.

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Disadvantages of Wireless CCTV:

1.  Disruption of signals – This is the major con. Wireless IP cameras operate on one specific frequency. The chances of the signals getting disrupted are high if there are other networks, internet and microwaves.

2.  Risk of hacking – If the camera is not secured properly, you have to face the risk of hacking.

3. Professional help – If there is any problem, you need the help of a professional technician to fix it. You can’t fix it yourselves.

4. Quality of images – The video may not be of high quality because of disruptions.

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Experts prefer to install wired security camera systems. Here’s why:

•Wired security camera systems provide high-def resolution. With high-definition images, you have the ability to read license plate tags, do facial recognition and zoom in up to 1000x, if necessary. These capabilities are not available with images provided by wireless security camera systems.

•Wired security camera systems are more secure. Most people do not realize that wireless systems are “hackable” with the right equipment. That means a techie thief or voyeur could look into your home or property and invade your privacy. With a wired security camera system, though, your privacy is protected.

•Wired security camera systems are more reliable. Wireless camera images often contain “snow” due to poor signal strength or electronic interference. Also, a wireless system requires numerous components such as routers, broadcasters, and receivers — any one of which can fail and render your system inoperable. In addition, wireless signals do not penetrate building structures made of concrete, brick or stucco.

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VCR, DVR and NVR:

There are two main ways to record video images that CCTV cameras capture. They are analog tape and digital video recorders. Most analog video recorders use VCR tapes or standard VCRs to record the images or special security time-lapse VCRs to record images for a longer period of time.

Video cassette recorder (VCR):

A tape recorder such as a security-time lapse VCR can record CCTV camera images in either black and white or color for all the way up to 960 hours, which is 40 complete days. The determining factor is how many frames per second users intend to record and how many cameras are hooked up to the VCR for recording. For instance, if a user records 30 frames per second (real time video), he/she will only be able to get a few hours of video captured on the recorder. If users record one frame per second or less, they can record for dozens of hours before the video tape is full. VCRs are very practical, very reliable, and extremely affordable. Expect to pay only a few hundred dollars for a security VCR.

Digital Video Recorder (DVR):

There are two types of DVRs (Digital Video Recorders). They are either stand alone devices or hard drives that are connected to a computer system. DVRs work similar to VCRs, but the images they capture from the CCTV camera is digital. The amount of digital images captured on a DVR is determined by a few factors including the frames per second recorded, the amount of cameras hooked up to the DVR device, the resolution that the DVR saves the images at, and the video compression used (e.g. MPEG4). For a common set up, where 4 cameras are shooting at 30 fps and an image resolution of 320 X 240 is being used, each camera only records when motion is on, and MPEG4 compression is used, users should be able fill up a 20 to 25 GB hard drive in about 80 hours.

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What is the difference between a PC-based DVR and an Embedded DVR (stand alone DVR)?

A PC-based digital video recorder is basically a personal computer that has been modified with hardware and software to work as a DVR. A PC-based system looks a lot like a tower computer unit. Similar to your PC, the system’s hard drive, LAN board, motherboard, and video card are all located in the computer tower. There is also a DVD-writer to burn your security video images to and a card that records security images. An embedded digital video recorder is a video recording machine that has been manufactured specifically to record video input from CCTV cameras. A stand alone system (embedded DVR) looks a lot like a DVD player or an old VCR with all their components encased in one cabinet. This includes the CPU, IC chips, and power supplies. Everything you need to have to operate the unit is located in one cabinet. The Stand alone DVR works with very little or no help from the computer. It is a plug and play meaning that installation is very easy and recording can start as soon as the device is installed. Stand alone DVRs can support 4-16 cameras, and a television screen can be added for viewing live pictures. Stand alone DVRs provide all the features that come with computer based DVR systems including network support options that allow you to share the recorded data. The motion of the camera can be controlled based on motion and playback and search option are also available. Stand alone DVRs are as their name implies not connected to a network.  However, they can be connected to the internet so that an authorized person can view the images collected on the DVRs in real time over the internet.  With such an internet connection, authorized personnel can, as well, locate and view images stored on the DVR.

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Digital storage:

Most CCTV systems may record and store digital video and images to a digital video recorder (DVR) or, in the case of IP cameras, directly to a server, either on-site or offsite. There is a cost in the retention of the images produced by CCTV systems. The amount and quality of data stored on storage media is subject to compression ratios, images stored per second, image size and is affected by the retention period of the videos or images. Digital storage is the most effective and efficient method of video recording and archiving. In digital recording, each field is divided in to an array of individual points or pixels. A single frame of monochrome video needs about 450KB (Kilobytes) of space for storage and a single frame of color needs about 650KB. This is the uncompressed size. Consequently to store the same number of images as a videotape, a total storage capacity of about 280GB (Gigabytes) would be needed for one camera. This is considerably larger than hard discs and other media generally available and would also be tremendously expensive. Consequently some means of compression is required to reduce the amount of space required without adversely affecting picture quality. This has led to the introduction of digital video recorders (DVRs), which allow video to be recorded in higher resolutions than VCRs and eliminated video tapes, which in turn eradicated the need to physically change the tape. The DVR converts the analog video to digital format and compresses it before storing it on its hard drive. Alternatively, the compressed digital video can be sent over the LAN. DVRs store images in a variety of proprietary file formats. Recordings may be retained for a preset amount of time and then automatically archived, overwritten or deleted, the period being determined by the organisation that generated them. Unlike analog recording mediums, long-term digital storage media do not allow the quality on the video image to degrade over time.

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What is image compression and what are the types of compression formats used?

CCTV DVR converts analog images to digital and save them in hard disk. Image compression plays an important role of improving transmission as well as reducing storage size. There are various formats of image compression in the market. Among which, JPEG and MPEG format of compression are the most widely used formats in the market currently. The major difference between JPEG and MPEG is in compression techniques. JPEG processes images by compressing one by one still pictures but MJPEG compresses images sequence by sequence. The twin objectives of video compression processing are to reduce the amount of data required to store/send a digital image whilst also maintaining the quality of that digital image. International standards bodies such as the ITU-T and the ISO6 formulate and publish various compression processing standards. There are two main ISO subdivisions that define and regulate image compression standards: namely, JPEG and MPEG. JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group is a group of scientists and industrialists who collectively define and regulate standards for the compression of still images (including, for example, photographs and individual frames captured from video footage). MPEG – Motion Picture Experts Group undertakes the same activities in respect of motion video (that is, two or more still images that together form a piece of video footage). These two bodies have set standards such as JPEG (commonly used in digital cameras) and MPEG-2 (the current DVD standard).

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What is the maximum length I can pull my cameras away from the DVR?

Using RG59 Coaxial cable, the maximum distance is approx 600 feet away from the DVR and up to 1,000 feet using RG6 Coax. For longer distances, a video amplifier should be used.

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Simplex DVR and a duplex DVR:

A simplex DVR only performs one task at a time. The DVR cannot playback recorded videos when it is recording, it can only do so when the recording is stopped.  A duplex DVR is able to playback recorded footages without having to stop recording. Recording is uninterrupted and taking place concurrently as you playback the recorded videos.

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Some key factors to consider when choosing which DVR to buy are:

•Frame Rate – a higher frame rate will lead to a more fluid playback (rather than a series of broken images) but will also use up more space on your hard drive. For real-time recording and playback look out for 25 fps(frames per second).

•Maximum Hard Drive Capacity – if you only want to store 24 hours worth of footage hard drive capacity won’t be a major issue. If however you want to keep a record of footage for the past few weeks or even months, you’ll need a hard drive with a large capacity to store all of that extra data without running out of space.

•Image Quality & Resolution – capturing a burglar on film won’t be much help if the image is too blurry to see his or her face, so it’s important to consider the quality and resolution of the stored images. However a high resolution will again use up your hard drive space quicker so you may need to find a good compromise between image quality and disk space.

•Backup Facilities – the most common and also the cheapest form of backup for DVRs is via CD. However a DVD backup system can store more footage per disc, or you may wish to opt for a network backup with involves streaming the data onto a computer and converting it to an AVI or other file type.

•Networkability – if you want to watch CCTV footage over the Internet or a network you need a DVR that can do this. Also consider the speed of the network you are using – a Local Area Network has the capability to provide almost real-time streaming but if you are using a slow 512kb upload speed internet connection you will not be getting much benefit from a 25fps frame rate when you can only view 0.5 to 5 frames per second.

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NVR (Network Video Recorder):

Unlike its predecessor, the DVR, a NVR is not limited to be in the same area as your cameras cabling to one section. The unit can be placed virtually anywhere, it simply just needs to be on the same LAN network as the IP based cameras. In terms, network video recorders are distinct from digital video recorders as their input is assigned on a network rather than a direct connection to a video capture card. Video on a DVR is encoded and processed at the DVR, while video on an NVR is encoded and processed at the camera, then streamed to the NVR for storage or remote viewing. An NVR is a software program that records video in a digital format to a disk drive, USB flash drive, SD memory card or other mass storage device. An NVR contains no dedicated video capture hardware. However, the software is typically run on a dedicated device, usually with an embedded operating system. NVR is used in IP video surveillance systems. Because of the nature of these units, a camera that is capable of capturing High Resolution (Mega Pixel cameras) will record and playback as that desired resolution unlike a DVR system. Hybrid DVR security systems exist which incorporate functions of both NVR and DVR.

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CCTV monitors:

The picture created by the camera needs to be reproduced at the control position. A CCTV monitor is virtually the same as a television receiver except that it does not have the tuning circuits. Images captured by a CCTV Camera system in a store are viewed over an LCD monitor. As with camera sensors the size of monitors is the diagonal measurement of the screen. The distance at which it is to be viewed generally decides the size of monitor. There are two general types of placement for these monitors recommended by Provent, Staff Awareness Monitors and Customer Awareness Monitors.

Staff Awareness Monitors:

Where a retailer wishes staff to be able to view images captured in the store, a Staff Awareness Monitor is connected to the video recorder.  The Staff Awareness Monitor is placed at the cash desk so that sales staff can monitor areas of the store not visible from the cash desk.

Customer Awareness Monitors:

To make customers aware that there is a CCTV Camera system within a store, a Customer Awareness Monitor is hung from the ceiling at the store entrance.  As customers enter the store, their images are captured by a camera pointing at the store entrance and displayed on the Customer Awareness Monitor.

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CCTV on internet and smart phones:

Today Internet Protocol (IP) cameras are very popular kind of CCTV devices. They use the Internet Protocol used by most Local Area Networks to transmit video across the networks in digital form. It can be transmitted through the public Internet, which allows users to view their camera via any broadband connection available via a PC or a 3G phone.

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How to view images from analog CCTV cameras via the internet:

Modern CCTV recorders have the ability to act as a web server. DVRs like the DMR4-MPEG4 model have a LAN (Local Area Network) port as standard, hence allowing them to be connected to a network for both local and remote viewing. A simple network can be established by connecting the DVR directly to a PC. The DMR4-MPEG4 recorders are supplied with a simple to use viewing software. Once the program has been loaded on to the PC you can view live and recorded images from the DVR or control most functions of the DVR. Recorded images can be saved to the PC. A more useful configuration can be obtained using a router. For example, a 4 port router will allow the connection of 1 DVR and up to 3 computers. Each computer can then access the DVR data. A broadband router with a live internet connection would allow connection from a remote PC.

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CCTV on smart phones and iPhones:

Now you can view live and recorded CCTV Images from your iPhone, iPad or other smart phone. Simply connect your CCTV system to the internet, download the free CCTV App and connect to your security system. With the recent advances of smart phone technology such as the Apple iPhone these devices are suited to real-time CCTV images being displayed on their large colour touch screens. With internet connectivity such as WIFI or fast 3G data access, the reality of connecting directly to your CCTV camera system is now common place.

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Remote CCTV:

Firstly you will need to install the relevant software on the recording computer. You may need to perform some routing actions such as, setting up port forwarding. Remote Viewing or Remote CCTV allows you to view CCTV cameras from anywhere in the world via your home broadband connection. You can view the images though your mobile phone or via a laptop or PC. In simple terms you have the Sender (your house) and the Receiver (your laptop/phone etc.) The Sender comprises of one or more cameras connected to a video streamer. The video streamer literarily streams the video signals over either a local network or the internet. In order for the receiver to be able to find the Sender it is allocated a unique IP address or a URL (web address). The receiver comprises either a laptop PC (connected to the internet) or a mobile phone with a small program installed. The user enters the allocated IP or URL address and if required, a user name and password.

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Here are some of the benefits of connecting your DVR to your network.

1. Being able to watch your security cameras while you are away from the location is one of the most important features of current DVRs. This will give you the ability to prevent crimes as well as keep an eye on what is currently happening in the locations that the cameras are watching over.

2. Being able to review and back up footage from your DVR remotely so that you have a copy of what is happening even if the DVR ends up getting damaged or stolen.

3. Being able to configure the DVR and specialized cameras remotely. This is handy if you notice that the DVR needs to have some of its configurations modified.

4. Being able to change settings on cameras that are all of a sudden not able to see due to conditions changing. Some people have had issues where their cameras looked great the whole first week that they had them set up but then all of a sudden a big storm comes in and they can’t see anything anymore and one of the camera’s may have a setting which can compensate for this condition change. If you’re not able to reach the location where the DVR and cameras are installed, this will allow you to change the settings from wherever you are so that you don’t miss out on anything in the meantime. However, please note that some cameras do not have these features, but for the ones that do, being able to access them remotely is a great feature to have.

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If you install an alarm system as well as CCTV, the alarm system will call your phone if an event occurs. You can then login to your camera system and check the alarm yourself and call the authorities if needed. It’s as easy as that! If you have CCTV only (i.e. no alarm), you have the option to login and view your CCTV footage from any smart phone, tablet or internet-connected computer at any time.

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Internet eye:

In October 2009, an “Internet Eyes” website was announced which would pay members of the public to view CCTV camera images from their homes and report any crimes they witnessed. The site aimed to add “more eyes” to cameras which might be insufficiently monitored. Civil liberties campaigners criticized the idea as “a distasteful and a worrying development”.

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The figure below shows flow diagram of various CCTV systems:

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CCTV integration:

The TV Network Protocol or TVNP as it is more commonly referred to is an open network protocol developed to enable CCTV systems from any manufacturer to be integrated into an existing CCTV network. It provides high levels of support for audio routing, video routing and camera control.

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CCTV installation, maintenance and problems:

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La Vigne and colleagues (2011) provide 10 lessons for creating a public surveillance system. They are:

1. Assess your needs and budget before investing

2. Plan ahead for maintenance, infrastructure, and other ongoing costs

3. Plan camera locations to maximize the view-shed

4. Consider integration with other technology (e.g. gunshot detection systems, crime mapping software)

5. Balance privacy protection with system utility

6. Weigh the costs and benefits to using active monitoring

7. Integrate camera systems with existing practices and procedures

8. Set and manage realistic expectations for video footage quality

9. Use surveillance systems to complement, not replace, routine policing, investigations, and legal proceedings

10. Incorporate video evidence with witness testimony in court

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How to choose a suitable CCTV camera for your needs:

Choosing the correct CCTV Camera that fits your digital surveillance requirements is very important. Here is a simplified set of guidelines when choosing the correct CCTV camera for you application.

a) Location: Indoor or outdoor application

b) Requirement for day and night surveillance

c) The angle of view requirement. Wide angle coverage or a narrow field of view is required.

d) Budget

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CCTV camera locations and purpose:

The purpose of CCTV cameras is to observe, detect, recognize and identify.

Observe:

This is where a person or vehicle (target) occupies 5 percent of the monitor’s viewing height. Cameras located to observe and enable the viewer to know someone was there. The time and date stamp shows what time they were there. The image size will be too small for identification but will place a person or vehicle at the scene when considered with other images i.e.: recognise and identify.

Detect:

A person or vehicle will occupy 10 percent of the monitor’s viewing height. At this size, the target’s image will be adequate for detection using video motion detection, if installed on the system, but would be too small to identify the person for evidence purposes. If a system is monitored it will provide enough detail to indicate the person is doing something suspicious.

Recognise:

A person or vehicle will occupy 50 percent of the monitor’s viewing height. At this field of view, the target’s image can be recognised if they are already known to staff. They would not be accurately identified if they are unknown. However, the person could be recognised as the same person in different camera shots.

Identify:

At 120 percent of the monitor’s viewing height, images are of suitable quality to enable identification of individuals and provide distinguishing features of vehicle number plates. Police will have the greatest chance of enlarging the images and capturing vital details.

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Choosing the Wrong Lens:

If you or your installation company chooses the wrong lens then there is 80% chance the police will not be able to use your pictures in court.

Choosing the Wrong DVR:

Installing a DVR with too low a resolution again means that your system will be of little use in a police prosecution.

Installing an Illegal System (in UK):

Install a system that does not comply with the Data Protection Act (DPA) and it could result in fine / criminal record, unlimited civil damages and CCTV evidence that is challenged in court.

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Installation:

•The DVR should be installed in a secure location where it will not be exposed to dust/water or extremes in temperature. Like a computer, a DVR generates heat so if placed in a locked cupboard adequate ventilation is necessary.

•Access to the DVR should be strictly controlled by management. If the images are used in a court proceeding, management may be required to name the individuals who were able to access the equipment in order to assure the court that the data was not interfered with.

•A monitor should be installed with the DVR to allow viewing of the recorded vision.

•Cameras should be firmly fixed and should not be subject to vibrations, knocking or other movement that will affect the quality of the images captured.

•Cameras should never look directly into the sun or strong lights since the intensity may burn a permanent spot on the sensitive surface and make permanent white scars in the presentation.

•Cameras located outside a business should be positioned out of reach of passers-by to prevent unauthorised moving or theft. Consider fitting anti-tamper brackets to all externally mounted equipment.

•Ensure there is sufficient light for the camera to view the scene at all times. This may mean installing additional lights or higher wattage globes in existing lights.

•Be aware that at different times of the day the sun, or car headlights, may shine directly into a camera’s lens. Glare will significantly affect the video image. After installation, check the quality of the recordings at different times of the day and night to ensure good quality vision.

•Professional advice is recommended when installing a new CCTV system or upgrading an existing system. Trained consultants can provide advice specifically for your business and the commercial environment in which it operates. Consulting a reputable CCTV company will ensure that your business obtains the best quality CCTV images for both crime prevention and criminal investigation purposes.

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Set-Up:

•Camera placement is critical to the success of all CCTV systems.

•Recorded vision should be ideally held on the recorder for 30 days before being overwritten.

•Ensure the capture rate is set to provide clear images of the actions of people. Low capture rates have people appearing ‘jerky’ and may miss important evidence of a crime. Faster capture rates make the person’s actions smoother, more natural and capture all of their movements. A minimum of six frames per second is recommended. Twenty-five frames per second is considered to be real time recording.

•However, the higher the capture rate the more hard disk space will be required on the DVR. Therefore, a balance between best practice and best evidence is required. Nevertheless, do not sacrifice the quality of the image to increase the length of time the vision is retained. It is a much better investment to buy a larger hard disk drive.

•Cameras should cover strategic areas that capture the action of people. At least one camera should be set to capture images of people, enabling them to be identified (both from their physical appearance and their facial qualities).

•Camera placement can be determined by sketching out a floor plan. Consider the distance from the camera to the area under surveillance and the field of view the camera will record.

•Ensure cameras are implemented at eye level behind counter areas. This enables a perfect image of an offender. Cameras on ceilings do not assist in identification.

•Ensure that any overhead mounted cameras capture sufficient facial detail of people and avoid the tendency to place a camera up high that will only focus on the tops of their heads.

•Cameras for vulnerable locations should be mounted strategically at areas of high cash turnover and also directly outside premises.

•When setting up cameras in your business, remember to play back the recorded product to ensure the image quality is appropriate. If you can’t distinguish the detail of the person in the image then neither will police.

•If a camera is set simply to cover a wide area it will usually not provide police with sufficient detail to identify the person. It is better to set up a number of cameras, each with a specific purpose. This way, when police view the recorded vision, the individual views will provide sufficient evidence to show what took place.

•Video motion detectors can be used in areas such as fire escape stairwells, health spas, and swimming pools that are used infrequently. When the CCTV system is activated and movement occurs at the target location, the DVR unit commences recording. However, do not use video motion detection on an external application without careful planning.

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CCTV system maintenance and management:

For CCTV vision to be useful to investigators and accepted in a court of law, its integrity needs to be ensured. Evidence is required to show that the CCTV system has been maintained and the data appropriately managed according to the following guidelines.

Maintenance:

•All systems should be regularly maintained and tested.

•One of the primary maintenance issues associated with CCTV systems is keeping the glass front of the housing clean. To this effect, some camera housing units actually come with their own blades and wiper fluid dispenser. Ensure that camera protective coverings are clean as a build-up of dust or dirt will degrade recorded images.

•Dome enclosures for interior ceiling-mounted cameras need to be kept free of dust and other materials.

•Each week a check should be made of the system’s time and date against a known accurate clock.

•On a weekly basis management should review the vision recorded from each camera to ensure the images are still being captured with the desired view and that they are still in focus.

•Visually check the mountings of all cameras weekly to ensure they are still securely fixed and have not been accidentally bumped or tampered with.

•A written maintenance log should be kept for the CCTV system. The log should record what checks were conducted and the details of who conducted them. It should be signed by the person completing the checks at the time they were carried out.

•Remember, all CCTV equipment has a finite life span but usually greater than 5 years. It is recommended that a maintenance contract be secured to cover CCTV installations. Such maintenance usually serves to extend the lifespan of the equipment. Plan to replace your system according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

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Data Management:

•Recorded vision will only be useful in evidence if its integrity can be assured.

•Therefore, recorded vision must not be manipulated, changed or enhanced in any way.

•The number of employees who have access to the CCTV equipment and the vision data should be limited to those essential for the system’s maintenance.

•Provide training on the operation of the system to key staff who will be providing police with the recorded vision. Where possible, it is preferable the staff members selected for this role are likely to be on site or readily contactable in the event of an incident so that video footage can be quickly provided to police.

•It is important to have the CCTV system documented and a user manual on hand that describes how the system operates. These can be kept with the maintenance log.

•The person who provides the vision data to police will become a witness. They should have a good understanding of the CCTV system and be able to give evidence in court on the steps they took to make a copy of the data for the police.

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Technical problems vis-à-vis CCTV:

Many technical problems hinder the effectiveness of CCTV systems, and several of these problems are not addressed or even recognized in the first place. The lack of training and available manuals/guidelines is a major hindrance. Yet, the question to ask is: with ongoing advancements and changes of CCTV products as well as the vast diversity, can training and manuals be made available at such a pace? With the rapid changes occurring in the realm of CCTV technology, technical problems are bound to occur and the local security person accessing the CCTV central system is ill prepared for a breakdown or malfunctioning. Moreover, cameras can pose additional problems: limited area of coverage, poor design and tape quality, improper use, lack of maintenance and lack of enthusiasm by the users. These issues are crucial in terms of recognizing that technical problems hinder the effectiveness of CCTV systems, and several of these problems are not addressed or even recognized in the first place. The lack of training and available manuals/guidelines is a major hindrance.

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CCTV System Problems Solutions vis-à-vis Camera:

No image out:

•Check power supply connection normal or not, voltage sufficient or not.

•Whether BNC adapter or video cable is in poor contact

•Whether lens aperture is open.

•Whether video cable and AC auto aperture lens cable connect well

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Image quality poor:

•Whether lens has fingerprint or dirty

•Whether aperture is adjusted well

•Video cable is in poor contact.

•Whether electronic shutter setting or white balance setting has problems

•Whether transmission distance is too long

•Whether voltage is normal

•Whether there is interference source nearby

•Inner-elevator installation should avoid interference by ensuring camera insulates with elevator.

•Whether CS-mount is correct

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Problems caused by overlong distance transmission and solutions:

•Monitor picture contrast too low, image weak:

This appearance reason lies in control server, monitor, overlong distance transmission or transmission signal loss too much. In such situation, adding cable amplifier kit and compensation kit is needed.

•Image definition low, details loss, even color signal loss or saturation under-standard:

This appearance is caused by that high frequency signal is damaged too seriously and frequency (over 3MHz) loses mostly. This problem is caused by many reasons which include transmission distance overlong (without amplifier & compensation kit), distributed capacitance overload in video transmission cable, equivalent capacitance centralized between transmission cable core and screened wire.

•Hue distortion:

This appearance happens easily during long distance video transmission. The main reason lies in high-frequency section phase shift overdone. In such condition, adding phase compensation is needed.

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CCTV power consumption and durability:

A CCD type CCTV camera is usually very durable partly because of its sturdy construction and because its electronic circuitry are operated by a stable power supply. They may last for many years without any problems. Most these cameras operate between -10˚ to 50˚ (Celsius scale). If a camera is to operate outside where temperatures fluctuate beyond these ranges, the CCTV technician must install a protective enclosure containing a heater and a blower. Otherwise, the equipment will malfunction or breakdown.

Choosing a Power Supply:

Each camera has its own level of power required. Most of the cameras require a 12V DC power supply but some have built in 12/24V adapters and others need 230V AC power to function. High voltage 230V cameras required a qualified electrician to connect them to the mains so if you want to install the camera yourself opt for a 12V DC camera. It is important not to supply the camera with more voltage than it is rated for as it will simply blow the board and render the camera useless. You can however over-supply amps as the camera will only take what it needs. A 12V or 24V camera requires a special power supply to convert the 230V mains power to the appropriate level. A power supply unit, or PSU, is available as individual plug-in units up to 1 Amp for single cameras, or metal boxed power supplies up to 3 Amps for multiple cameras. For example, a CCTV system with eight 12V cameras consuming 0.2 Amps each would require at least 1.6 Amps from the power supply.

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CCTV applications:

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The table below shows number of frames of video recorded in 80 camera CCTV system in 24 hours:

As you can see enormous information is available through CCTV system.

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The applications of CCTV:

The most common use of Closed Circuit Television is in security systems and such applications as retail shops, banks, casinos, malls, condos, government establishments, home security, etc. The true scope for applications is almost unlimited.

Some examples are listed below.

1. Home Security Cameras for monitoring babies

2. Recording how their caretakers treat your elders at homes or nursing homes

3. A Television Security Camera System to check the surroundings of a block or a building

4. Television Cameras for Quality Control in factories or laboratories

5. Security Television Cameras for checking parts storage in an auto repair shop

6. Covert Cameras hidden in buses to control vandalism

7. Cameras for aerial photography from a small airplane or helicopter

8. Mini cameras or other Television Cameras for production control in a factory

9. Monitoring traffic on a bridge

10. Recording the inside of a baking oven to find the cause of problems

11. A temporary system to carry out a traffic survey in a town centre

12. Time lapse recording for the animation of plasticine puppets

13. Used by the stage manager of a show to see obscured parts of a set

14. The well-publicised use at football stadiums

15. Making a wildlife program using a large model helicopter

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Home security through home CCTV:

Humans have always felt very possessive of their belongings. During ancient times, inhabitants used to live in secure caves so that they would be protected from unwanted intrusion and from deadly animals. The advancement of civilization witnessed better and improved means of home security system being implemented by humans. Technological revolution of modern age has resulted in concept of home security finding widespread popularity. Everyone worth his salt thinks of protecting his hard earned possessions. Urban population specifically has become very conscious of the important aspect of home security.  Nowadays, it’s not unusual for homeowners to install security cameras around their homes and property to protect against trespassing, burglaries and vandalism. While the cameras themselves can’t do anything to physically prevent crimes from occurring in an around the home, they’ve become very effective deterrents – a well-monitored home is far less appealing to criminals than one with no security measures in place. Another form of CCTV surveillance in the home is the “nanny-cam,” a small video camera that is often disguised to look like an ordinary household object, and placed in an area of the home where nannies, babysitters, and other household staff/employees are likely to spend time. These undercover security cameras bring peace of mind to parents and homeowner who want to be reassured that their children and belongings are safe and being treated appropriately.

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CCTV and crime:

Before evaluating the effectiveness of CCTV in reducing crime, it is necessary to understand the theory behind its use. According to Weiss, one of the types of crime prevention has particular relevance with regard to the use of CCTV – “Primary Crime Prevention is focused on the offence rather than the offender, and is often associated with situational crime prevention strategies which focus on the immediate and localized context of the offence”. This type of crime prevention is based on rational choice theory and assumes that the individuals most likely to commit crimes are the ones who believe that they can get away with it. Thus by employing CCTV, the confidence of aspiring criminals is shaken as they are cognizant of the fact that they may be apprehended or they may feel the  cameras are watching their every move , and are loathe to risk capture and consequently they may refrain from committing the crime. Criminal recklessness is replaced by fear. As Tilley (1993) puts it, “CCTV could reduce crime by increasing the likelihood that present offenders will be caught, stopped, removed, punished and therefore deterred”. Thus when used in this particular context, CCTV seeks to reduce the opportunity to commit crime and thereby deter the potential criminal, by increasing the chances of getting caught. Situational prevention can also cause a reduction of crime, by means of diffusion of benefits. According to Clarke and Weisburd (1994), “The term refers to the fact that situational prevention can often bring about reductions in crime beyond the immediate focus of the measures introduced”. This additional benefit was demonstrated with regard to the use of CCTV in a case described by Poyner (1991), where CCTV cameras used to prevent theft in the car park at the University of Surrey not only reduced theft in the three areas being monitored, but in one not under surveillance.

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It is argued that CCTV (especially if well publicized) may prevent crime because potential offenders are deterred by their increased subjective probability of detection. Also, CCTV may increase the true probability of detection, may increase pedestrian usage of places and hence further increase the subjective probability, may encourage potential victims to take security precautions, and may direct police and security personnel to intervene to prevent crime. Another possibility is that CCTV could signal improvements in the area and hence increase community pride, community cohesion, and informal social control. CCTV could also cause crime to increase. For example, it could give potential victims a false sense of security and make them more vulnerable because they relax their vigilance or stop taking precautions, such as walking in groups at night and not wearing expensive jewelry. It may encourage increased reporting of crimes to the police and increased recording of crimes by the police. CCTV may also cause crime to be displaced to other locations, times, or victims. Analysis of crime data shows that, at least in the short term, the presence of closed-circuit cameras can have a deterrent effect on a variety of offenses, especially property offenses. For example, in the section of Newcastle covered by CCTV, burglaries fell by 56 percent, criminal property damage by 34 percent, and nonmotor-vehicle theft by 11 percent.

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How does CCTV prevent crime?

The general purpose of the CCTV is to prevent and reduce crime. In theory, this happens because of one or more of these reasons:

1: Deterrence – potential burglars and thieves may see the camera and decide that a store in question is too much of a risk and therefore not a good target

2: Prosecution – thieves and shoplifters may be caught on camera and this can help catch and prosecute them

3: Fear reduction – if everyone knows that there is a camera, they may feel safer in or around your business, thus preventing potential criminals from attacking

4: Monitoring and intervention – if there is a security guard monitoring the area through CCTV system, he or she may act on any suspicious behavior and thus prevent a crime from occurring. Security guards may also deploy employees to a suspicious spot or near a person detected on the monitors.

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CCTV systems can vary in terms of whether they involve either active or passive monitoring:

Active monitoring by operators who monitor the cameras in real time can increase the threat of identification and help mobilise a response as operators may have open channel communication with the police. Passive monitoring refers to CCTV systems that regularly scan an area and produce a record that can later be examined, assisting with collecting evidence.

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Closed circuit television (CCTV) systems can be used to enhance the safety and security of your business, CCTV footage can also provide valuable assistance to the police when investigating crimes and prosecuting offenders.

The use of CCTV systems includes the following:

•The presence of CCTV cameras may serve as a deterrent to inappropriate or illegal activity. This is the preferred role of CCTV systems – to prevent or reduce the opportunity for crime to occur.

•CCTV cameras can be used to provide real-time or recorded surveillance over large areas, i.e., the perimeter boundary of protected property, parking lots, retail stores, government buildings, etc. This use of CCTV is sometimes referred to as video patrol.

•CCTV cameras can be integrated with other sensing systems (robbery or burglary alarms), and used to view areas not immediately accessible to personnel. This is often referred to as “event-driven cameras.”

•CCTV cameras and monitoring equipment can provide an historical recall of events. Good quality preserved CCTV images can provide valuable information and evidence for police related to inappropriate or illegal activity.

•CCTV cameras may have a better viewing vantage than personnel.

If good quality CCTV footage of an incident is available, this can assist police to clear up an investigation in a short time and successfully prosecute the offender. Unfortunately, many CCTV systems are not installed properly, have not been maintained, provide poor quality video footage or are switched off/broken at the time of the incident. If evidence is gained from a CCTV system in such cases, it may be excluded by a court. A poorly installed, maintained, or functioning CCTV system is only marginally better than having no CCTV system at all.

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The attributes of a good system that police can use for investigating crime are listed below:

•Colour CCTV systems are the preferred system because they generally provide better evidence than black and white (sometimes referred to as monochrome). They permit a more realistic view of the image and make identification of persons and things easier because of the more natural image. However, they do need a greater amount of light than black and white cameras and are of lower resolution (picture quality). Therefore, a minimum of 300-400 lines of horizontal resolution is recommended. Also bear in mind that colour CCTV is also more expensive than black and white cameras.

•All systems should record vision from all cameras at all times while the system is turned on. Generally, it is recommended that a CCTV system operates on a 24-hour basis.

•Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) are the preferred medium of choice for recording and storing images. DVRs have computer-style hard disk drives and have longer recording periods than Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs), which are now no longer manufactured. The image files of DVRs are of superior quality, do not degrade over time, require less storage space, are easier to search and can be viewed on a computer via a network. New data is also automatically written over the oldest vision once the hard drive is full.

•All recorded vision should be watermarked with the time, date and camera number/description that recorded it.

•The digital recorder used should be capable of generating a copy of the recorded vision so that it can be given to police investigators along with any special software required to view it.

•Dummy cameras are not recommended.

•Consider installing a small uninterrupted power supply (UPS) to provide power to both DVR and cameras should mains power fail.

•Signs warning that CCTV is in use increase the deterrent effect of CCTV cameras.

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Crime solving using CCTV in UK:

There is strong anecdotal evidence that CCTV aids in detection and conviction of offenders; indeed UK police forces routinely seek CCTV recordings after crimes. Moreover CCTV has played a crucial role in tracing the movements of suspects or victims and is widely regarded by antiterrorist officers as a fundamental tool in tracking terrorist suspects. Large-scale CCTV installations have played a key part of the defenses against terrorism since the 1970s. Cameras have also been installed on public transport in the hope of deterring crime, and in mobile police surveillance vehicles, often with automatic number plate recognition, and a network of APNI-linked cameras is used to manage London’s congestion charging zone. Even so there is political hostility to surveillance and several commentators downplay the evidence of CCTV’s effectiveness, especially in the US. However, most of these assertions are based on poor methodology or imperfect comparisons. A proactive arrest happens when a council CCTV operator either alerts the police to an incident, or leads the police to a suspect after hearing a call out on the police radio and identifies the suspect using CCTV at the time of the incident. Hundreds more arrests take place as a result of police officers reviewing video and suspects being identified at a later date. CCTV is one of the most powerful tools to be developed during recent years to assist with efforts to combat crime and disorder. Another success story involved CCTV tracking down a vehicle carrying a huge haul of Class A drugs and cash. CCTV acts as deterrence rather than prevention to crime. CCTV deters ‘opportunistic’ crime, where people take advantage of a situation on the spur of the moment. The cameras are also creating a vastly increased rate of conviction after crimes are detected. Virtually everyone caught committing an offense on camera pleads guilty nowadays. Once people know they have been videotaped, they admit the offense immediately.

•In 2009, The Daily Telegraph revealed that almost seven out of ten murders are solved using footage captured by CCTV cameras.

•The study looked at the effectiveness of surveillance cameras, and revealed that almost every Scotland Yard murder inquiry used CCTV footage as evidence. Over a one year period, 86 out of 90 murder cases used CCTV in the investigation. Senior Officers claimed that 65 cases were solved by either capturing the murder itself on film, or using surveillance to track the movements of suspects before or after an attack.

•In 2010, BBC News reported that according to the Metropolitan Police, CCTV cameras across London help to solve almost six crimes a day. In 2009, the number of suspects who were identified using the cameras was 1,970, increasing to 2,512 in 2010.

•CCTV also played a vital role in Police crack-downs following the August 2011 riots. London Evening Standard revealed that almost 3,000 people suspected of offences in London during the riots had been arrested. The Metropolitan Police confirmed that CCTV acted as one of the main investigative leads, with officers reviewing thousands of hours of footage to detect suspects.

•CCTV also helped identify the “London Nail Bomber”, David Copeland, in 1999. Copeland’s nail bombs killed three people and injured 139, with four victims losing limbs. CCTV images of Copeland were given wide publicity, with a work colleague of Copeland’s alerting the police. He was convicted of murder in 2000.

•CCTV evidence from the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle also identified Robert Thompson and Jon Venables as being responsible for the abduction and eventual murder of James Bulger in 1993.

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Research that utilizes the scientific realism approach developed by Pawson and Tilley (1997) tried to identify how CCTV works and specifically in what contexts. Academics (Armitage et al, 1999; Tilley 1993) have documented several ways or mechanisms that could result in CCTV bringing about change in an area and those devised by Tilley are as follows:

•Caught in the act – CCTV could reduce crime by increasing the likelihood that present offenders will be caught, stopped, removed, punished and therefore deterred.

•You’ve been framed – CCTV could reduce crime by deterring potential offenders who will not want to be observed by CCTV operators or have evidence against them captured on camera.

•Nosey Parker (overly inquisitiveness) – a reduction could take place because more natural surveillance is encouraged as more people use the area covered by CCTV. This may deter offenders who fear an increased risk of apprehension.

•Effective deployment – CCTV may facilitate the effective deployment of security staff and police officers to locations where suspicious behaviour is occurring. Their presence may deter offenders, or may mean they are caught in the act.

•Publicity (general) – this may assist in deterring offenders.

•Publicity (specific) – CCTV cameras and signs show people are taking crime seriously, and thus offenders may be deterred.

•Time for Crime – CCTV may have less of an impact on crimes that can be done quickly as opposed to those that take a longer time, as offenders assume that they will have enough time to avoid the cameras, or to escape from police officers and security staff.

•Memory jogging – publicity about CCTV encourages potential victims to be more security conscious and to take precautionary measures.

•Appeal to the cautious – those who are more security minded use the areas with CCTV, driving out the more careless who are vulnerable to crime elsewhere.

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The list above represents a starting point to consider how CCTV can impact on crime and numerous other mechanisms can be developed across a range of settings and offence types (Ratcliffe, 2006). Coupe and Kaur (2005) examined the impact of CCTV and alarms in detecting commercial burglary and they highlighted the complex interplay of mechanisms that can result in CCTV impacting on crime and how different crime prevention measures can have conflicting mechanism. CCTV can provide evidence on film that leads to arrest, while visible CCTV cameras like alarms, may also deter burglars or displace them to other targets. In addition, visible or hidden CCTV cameras may alert a watchman or employee to the commission of a crime. On the other hand, activated alarms may frighten burglars so that they quickly flee the scene, reducing not only capture there, but also, where CCTV is additionally fitted inside the premises, of a subsequent arrest by catching the offender on film.  Although CCTV will not increase actual levels of crime, the increased surveillance may result in more offences coming to the attention of the police, particularly violent offending (Brown, 1995).

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The range of additional crime reduction measures that often operate alongside CCTV system make it difficult to isolate the impact of the cameras and these can include changes to policing practices (Webb and Laycock, 1992), ad hoc police operations, improved lighting, community wardens and youth inclusion projects (Gill et al, 2007). Using crime statistics alone to evaluate CCTV means that many of the potential benefits of the cameras can be missed including supporting police activity leading to cost savings in relation to police time, increased detection rates, court time and the increased level of guilty pleas and guilty verdicts obtained when CCTV evidence in available (Home Office, 2007).

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CCTV can work on a number of different levels across a range of different contexts and this has resulted in mixed research findings in terms of CCTV effectiveness. Welsh and Farrington (2002) conducted a meta-analysis on studies of CCTV effectiveness and collected 46 studies but only considered 22 of the research papers to be rigorous enough for inclusion in their review. Half (eleven) of the studies found a desirable effect on crime, five found an undesirable effect on crime, five found a null effect, and one was classified as an uncertain effect. The largest impact on CCTV was found across car parks where there was evidence that crime reduced by 41% in the experimental compared to control area, which was significant. The research identified that CCTV had little or no effect on violent crime but the authors advocated the need for more high quality research that ‘established the causal mechanism by which CCTV has any effect on crime’ which should involve methodologically rigorous evaluations and interviewing offenders. A further meta-analysis of CCTV studies conducted in 2008 by Walsh and Farrington confirmed earlier findings that CCTV was effective in car parks and they advocated narrowing the use of CCTV to reflect research findings related to its effectiveness.

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The Home Office’s National Evaluation of CCTV (Gill and Spriggs, 2005) attempted to address some of the deficiencies identified in previous CCTV evaluations by combining a process and impact evaluation that incorporated control areas and identified other crime control initiatives that were operating in the target area to evaluate their impact on recorded crime levels. Thirteen CCTV systems were evaluated across a range of system including town centers, city centers, car parks, hospital and residential areas. The inclusion of residential areas reflected the governments push to include these types of areas into the Phase 2 of the Crime Reduction Program(Home Office, 2007). The main findings were: Out of the 13 systems evaluated six showed a relatively substantial reduction in crime in the target area compared with the control area, but only two showed a statistically significant reduction relative to the control area, and in one of these cases the change could be explained by the presence of confounding variables. Crime increased in seven areas but this could not be attributed to CCTV. The findings in these seven areas were inconclusive as a range of variables accounted for the changes in crime levels, including fluctuations in crime caused by seasonal, divisional and national trends and additional initiatives.

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CCTV systems rarely work in isolation and often form part of a crime prevention strategy. Webb and Laycock (1992) found evidence that CCTV can reduce robberies on the London Underground but the cameras were part of a package of measures to reduce crime in the area that made it difficult to identify the impact of the cameras alone. The research concluded that ‘CCTV does not seem to be very useful in large complex and crowded environments to deal with surreptitious behaviour such as pick pocketing or shoplifting’ (Webb and Laycock, 1992: 23) as the quick nature of the offences made it unlikely that they would be picked up by operators. Given that it was unlikely offenders would be detected by the cameras their effectiveness was mainly linked to whether offenders associated the cameras with an increased risk of getting caught on the London Underground.

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CCTV is a type of situational crime prevention and is often used to facilitate a change in the behaviour of offenders. Mayhew (1984) suggested that formal surveillance would deter potential offenders and this follows the rational choice theory perspective (Clarke and Felson, 1993) that proposes offenders act in a rational manner and by calculating whether the perceived benefits outweigh the cost in a given situation. The application of the deterrent effect of CCTV to routine activity theory means that the presence of CCTV can be perceived to act as the capable guardian and therefore demotivate offenders. The majority of CCTV systems rely on the deterrent effect of the cameras but the deterrent is often symbolic and ‘more or less incompetent deterrence because cameras are highly visible but those under surveillance are hardly visible for an observer due to irregular monitoring, informational overkill or even deployment of dummy cameras’ (Hempel and Topfer, 2004: 33).

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Research has examined the effect of CCTV on offenders’ behaviour across a range of contexts and identified that CCTV tends to be an effective deterrent against planned offences. Allard, Wortley and Steward (2008) examined whether the presence of CCTV in prisons reduced the number of incidents that were defined as ‘breaches of law or rules that may result in criminal prosecution or breach hearings and emergencies’. The research found that CCTV had a greater impact on non-violent than violent prisoner misbehaviour and affected planned behaviour to a greater extent than unplanned behaviour. The spontaneous nature of violence means that the deterrent effect of CCTV can be removed and it tends to be more ‘effective when behaviour is motivated’ (Allard et al, 2008: 416).

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CCTV does not create a physical barrier to crime and therefore can rely to a large extent on changing offenders’ behaviour. Therefore key to the success of CCTV is offenders’ views regarding its effectiveness. Evaluations that use crime levels to investigate the impact of CCTV on offenders need to be supplemented with offender interview based research to develop a full picture of how CCTV can be utilised fully to address criminal behaviour (Farrington and Walsh, 2002; Gill and Loveday, 2003). Gill and Loveday interviewed 77 convicted offenders in prison and the general consensus amongst those interviewed was that they did not worry about CCTV but there was evidence that some offenders chose to take precautions against the cameras by wearing clothes that hid their identity or offended in camera blind spots. Many of the offenders committed ‘swift offences’ and therefore believed that police notified by the cameras would not arrive in time to apprehend them (see also Short and Ditton, 1998). Roughly half the sample of offenders believed that CCTV increased the risk of getting caught but those that had been caught by CCTV perceived it as more of a threat. There was a lack of understanding amongst the offenders regarding image quality and how the images could be used to increase detection. The types of mechanisms that need to be utilised to increase the perceived risk of CCTV for offenders include using publicity detailing successes of the cameras and the capabilities of systems.

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Offender’s survey:

A survey of offenders asked that if they knew CCTV was present, would they have still offended?

16% had offended even though they knew CCTV was present.

53% said there was no CCTV where they offended.

31% did not know if CCTV was present or not and did not much care.

This relatively high figure suggests that for a good number of offenders CCTV does not figure highly in any risk assessment undertaken prior to commission of the offence. When the offenders were asked if they would still have committed their offences if they knew the CCTV had been operational 48.2% said no, 27.7% did not know and 24.1% said they would still have offended (and this rises to 40% for juvenile offenders), suggesting that some offences may be prevented whereas others will still occur.

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CCTV cost-effectiveness vis-à-vis crime:

A more open question is whether most CCTV is cost-effective. CCTV systems sales jumped by almost 700 percent from 1980 to 2000. As you can imagine, crime cameras don’t come cheap. In fact, Great Britain’s Ring of Steel cost more than $330 million from 1999 to 2001. With all the money being pumped into these mechanized eyes, you might wonder how well they curb crime. That depends on who you ask. Law enforcement officials generally support them, citing significant drops in violent crime. On the other hand, comprehensive studies by the American and British governments have shown otherwise. Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe. While low-quality domestic kits are cheap, the professional installation and maintenance of high definition CCTV is expensive. Gill and Spriggs did a Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) of CCTV in crime prevention that showed little monetary saving with the installation of CCTV as most of the crimes prevented resulted in little monetary loss. Critics however noted that benefits of non-monetary value cannot be captured in a traditional Cost Effectiveness Analysis and were omitted from their study. There has been discussion over the installation of CCTV as a cost-effective means for replacing the police force. However, almost every alternative crime prevention strategy has been shown to be cheaper and more effective. For example, while policemen on the beat become more effective in helping to reduce crime, cameras become less effective over time. A system of twenty city centre cameras is equivalent to the cost of thirty full time police. Crime prevention budgets are now being expended exclusively on CCTV, while tried and tested community based strategies find their funding has been eliminated. Heidi Mork Lomell (2004) suggests that CCTV systems are not a replacement for the police force, but enhance their work. Don Babwin (2007) asserts that unlike security personnel, cameras are not subject to fatigue or loss of concentration and therefore provide uninterrupted and consistent effort. Therefore, the financial burden of the initial expense of purchasing and installing the system is thwarted by its long-term efficiency over employing additional police officers who may be less valuable. Moreover, CCTV systems are also a key tool for helping police forces in solving crimes.

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A 2008 meta-analysis of CCTV effectiveness on crime:

Multiple crime/offense types:

Welsh and Farrington (2008) found that closed circuit television (CCTV) had a significant, though modest, impact on crime. Through aggregating the results of 41 studies, the authors found an overall effect size of 1.19, meaning that CCTV was associated with a 16 percent reduction in overall crime.

Property offenses:

Welsh and Farrington (2008) aggregated the results from 22 studies that examined the impact of CCTV on vehicle crimes and found a significant effect size of 1.35. This indicates that CCTV reduced vehicle crimes by 26 percent.

Violent offenses:

Welsh and Farrington (2008) examined the impact of CCTV on violent crime reported in 23 studies and found a nonsignificant effect size of 1.03. Overall, this indicates that CCTV does not have an impact on violent crimes.

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A 2009 analysis by Northeastern University and the University of Cambridge, “Public Area CCTV and Crime Prevention: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” examined 44 different studies that collectively surveyed areas from the United Kingdom to U.S. cities such as Cincinnati and New York.

The analysis found that:

1.  Surveillance systems were most effective in parking lots, where their use resulted in a 51% decrease in crime;

2. Public transportation areas saw a 23% decrease in crimes;

3. Systems in public settings were the least effective, with just a 7% decrease in crimes overall. When sorted by country, however, systems in the United Kingdom accounted for the majority of the decrease; the drop in other areas was insignificant.

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Location of CCTV and its effect on crime:

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Such studies are criticized for the inclusion of confounding variables (e.g. notification of CCTV cameras on site, improved street lighting) found in the studies analyzed (including car park studies). These factors could not be differentiated from the effect of CCTV cameras being present or absent while crimes were being committed. Thus, a combination of factors might be important for the decrease in crime not just the CCTV cameras.

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Effects of Closed-Circuit Television on Crime: 2013 study:

This article reports on the findings of a systematic review–incorporating meta-analytic techniques–of the available research evidence on the effects of closed-circuit television (CCTV) on crime in public space. A number of targeted and comprehensive searches of the published and unpublished literature and contacts with leading researchers produced twenty-two CCTV evaluations that met criteria for inclusion in this review. CCTV had a significant desirable effect on crime, although the overall reduction in crime was a rather small 4 percent. All nine studies showing evidence of a desirable effect of CCTV on crime were carried out in the United Kingdom. Conversely, the other nine studies showing no evidence of any desirable effect of CCTV on crime included all five North American studies. CCTV was most effective in reducing crime in car parks. It had no effect on violent crimes but had a significant desirable effect on vehicle crimes.

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Does CCTV Displace Crime?  [Criminology and Criminal Justice, May 2009, Vol. 9, No. 2, 207-224]

Crime displacement is a concern often raised regarding situational crime prevention measures. A national evaluation of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) has provided an interesting test-bed for displacement research. A number of methods have been used to investigate displacement, in particular visualization techniques making use of geographical information systems (GIS) have been introduced to the identification of spatial displacement. Results concur with current literature in that spatial displacement of crime does occur, but it was only detected infrequently. Spatial displacement is found not to occur uniformly across offence type or space, notably the most evident spatial displacement was actually found to be occurring within target areas themselves.

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CCTV effectiveness in reducing anti-social behavior (ASB): A study:

It seems that currently there is very little literature or research evaluating the effectiveness of CCTV in reducing antisocial behaviour. As antisocial behaviour can be an antecedent to more serious crime it is important to know which initiatives are effective in reducing the likelihood of it occurring. CCTV is a situational crime prevention method, a way to design out crime. The aim of this research was help to bridge the gap in knowledge in the area of the effectiveness of CCTV in reducing antisocial behaviour with the use of both primary and secondary sources. The results were startling, showing CCTV to have little impact on the level of antisocial behaviour in one area and the opposite in another area, as seen in the figures below.

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CCTV reducing ASB:

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CCTV has no impact on ASB:

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As with all community safety strategies CCTV has a finite life cycle, so the effectiveness of CCTV in reducing crime and ASB must be monitored closely to ensure that any success rate is maintained. Property crime rates such as criminal damage, which falls under the category of ASB, began to increase a mere eight months after the installation of CCTV, making it essential that success stories are regularly brought to public attention, both to deter potential offenders and to reduce fear in the general public. Nacro found that street lighting was just as effective as the installation of CCTV cameras in reducing ASB and crime, but this does not tackle the issue of the fear of ASB or crime so in relation to the fear maybe CCTV is the right initiative to implement. Felson and Clarke (1998) theorise that crime can be displaced. By changing the opportunity for criminal acts to occur, such as installing CCTV cameras, crime can be moved from one place to another which has led to the government installing CCTV in residential areas as well as in town centers. The increased levels of surveillance may displace crime into the more deprived Wards, the Wards or areas where there is not a large enough budget to install CCTV, which could in turn, make the situation worse in those areas. In this sense CCTV is not a positive initiative and may increase the negative attitudes held about it.

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Is CCTV is an effective safety tool for reducing crime?

For certain institutions, government agencies and social science researchers, CCTV technology is deemed as an efficient and successful tool for reducing crime rates within targeted areas. There have been, and continue to be, countless studies devoted to proving this stance and asserting the claim that CCTV systems are useful and at times the best solution. Such studies suggest that CCTV systems have preventative and reactive measures, revive business in desolate or poor areas, increase the efficiency of the police force, build social cohesion, protect the private environment of citizens and assure confidence and ensure feelings of safety and security, thus leading to a more ordered and stable society. However, opponents of CCTV technology claim that there is too much focus on the ability of CCTV to reduce crime. John Honovich (2008) states that such a focus produces misleading studies and draws away from a proper assessment and evaluation of the impact of CCTV on solving crime. Instead, he calls for a shift of the focus towards a structural approach; exploring the roots causes of crime. Most studies that found a causal link between CCTV use and reduction in crime were usually associated with property crimes or car park offences. The UK-based organization Nacro conducted a review of CCTV studies and found that property crimes reduced in areas covered by video surveillance, especially in car parks (car theft). It is commonly found that the presence of cameras in public spaces has had a positive impact on the crimes outlines above. However, the same Nacro review revealed that public video surveillance had no impact on personal crimes (assault, drunkenness). Helten and Fischer’s study (2004) in Germany reveals a similar point, whereby CCTV had little or no effect on reducing, what they term as, ‘crimes of passion’ such as public drunkenness and acts of rage. These studies demonstrate the ineffectiveness of CCTV as a crime reducing tool and moreover suggest that either there is a general lack of awareness of video surveillance cameras or an overall indifference. Other studies have explored the situation of ‘Diffusion of Benefits’ or ‘Displacement’, whereby once potential offenders are aware of public cameras they change choice or location of the crime (IACP). In the end, there is no reduction in the overall crime rate. This situation was found mainly for robbery and theft, which according to CCTV advocates are the most prominent and reduced crimes. An example of displacement is found in the Montreal pilot project on video surveillance cameras. In 2004, the Montreal police installed cameras on St. Denis to monitor and assess the effect on reducing criminal activities in the area. St. Denis, located near the Berri-Uqam metro station, is known for illicit drug deals and other criminal activities. Shopkeepers and residents have expressed concern. The study’s findings reveal that the targeted areas for video surveillance did have reduced rates of criminal activities (10% less robberies, 15% less selling of drugs) (Charest et al., 2005). This reduction was specific to the daytime. However, it is important to note that at the same time, there was an increase of police patrolling and arrests in the select areas. Critics of the study suggest that overall rates did not reduce due to the displacement effect. Once individuals knew of the cameras and noticed the increase in police they tended to moved location. One of main critiques surrounding video surveillance is that it is a ‘quick-fix’ solution and fails to tackle the real problems. In this case, social structures are discriminating and uphold disparities, which fuels crime. In Sutton and Wilson’s (2004) study in Australia, their findings reveal that most individuals interviewed noted video surveillance as irrelevant or unhelpful. The central critique was that video surveillance does not deal with the root problems or the causes of crime. Specific issues referred to economic and social inequalities, such as welfare support and housing were the main causes, which CCTV cannot and does not address, recognize or reduce. Aside for a desire to shift the focus, opponents of CCTV systems claim that there is a significant absence of evaluation, especially independent evaluation on the impact of video surveillance on crime reduction and prevention. Honess and Charman’s research (1992) on individual’s awareness of CCTV systems reveals that there was no proper assessment of the outcome of installing CCTV systems. Furthermore, interviewees expressed concern that there is no body of independent research being conducted on the use and end product of video surveillance in their locations. These points make us question CCTV technology’s ability to reduce and solve crime.

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Is CCTV is an effective safety tool for building feelings of security?

In the event of reduced crime, increased feelings of security and safety can have positive impacts on the social cohesion of a community, region or even a state. Ann Rudinow Sætnan et al. (2004) claim that CCTV systems have been instrumental in reducing crime and thus building relations in a once volatile and unsafe area. Increased citizen safety encourages broad participation and interaction in public spaces, which is effective in improving a community’s profile and attracting investment (Sætnan et al. 2004). Moreover, increased stability in a specific area can have advantages for economically revitalization, in which the area will attract more investment internally and externally, leading to an improvement in the social status and quality of life of its residents and a reduction in crime. According to several researchers, CCTV does not reduce feelings of insecurity or safety, proving its ineffectiveness as a crime preventing, reducing and solving tool. Jason Ditton (2000) claims that CCTV cameras do not make people feel safer, but create a false fear, which is enhanced by intense media activity. Further, the camera targets the (innocent) citizen rather than the criminal, imposing a constant fear in public spaces. Terry Honess and Elizabeth Charman’s study (1992) found that whether it was in car parks, shopping centers or on the street, the presence of video surveillance did not make the public feel safer. Their results reveal that feelings of discomfort and increased fear in the presence of video surveillance was significantly higher among women, who are commonly labeled as the most vulnerable group to criminal events. In Sætnan et al.’s study, the operation of CCTV systems was found to be discriminatory, suggesting a ghettoization of spaces, which in fact hampers social interactions and economic investment and growth, breaks social cohesion and leads to more crime.

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CCTV ineffectiveness vis-à-vis crime:

There are two sides to the argument over CCTV and crime detection and prevention. According to the Home Office research statistics the use of CCTV makes no significant difference whatsoever on crime rates in UK. Yet the Home Office itself has been promoting CCTV cameras as a major crime fighting tool. Research shows that only 14% of incidents caught using CCTV results in arrest. As a whole the installation of CCTV cameras may be a deterrent to crime but the statistics prove otherwise for individual isolated crimes. The purpose of CCTV surveillance is usually deterrence of, rather than intervention in, criminal acts. Many security cameras go unmonitored and are thus ineffective as a means of halting crimes in progress. This fact was forcefully demonstrated by a highly publicized juvenile murder case in England in 1992. After the discovery of the victim’s body and the apprehension of the perpetrators, police discovered that the initial abduction had been recorded by a shopping center’s security cameras. A 2008 Report by UK Police Chiefs concluded that only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. In London, a Metropolitan Police report showed that in 2008 only one crime was solved per 1000 cameras. In some cases CCTV cameras have become a target of attacks themselves. Research undertaken in Bradford, UK, adds to the case. Figures released by the police for car crime in the city’s car parks show that the highest levels of car crime occur in those car parks covered by the council’s CCTV systems. A 2013 Chicago Tribune opinion piece quoted a city spokesman as saying that surveillance cameras helped solve 4,500 crimes over four years, but the writer notes that more than a million are estimated to have taken place over that time period — meaning that the cameras’ contribution was 0.05% at best. The authors of a comprehensive Australian study stated that: “The effectiveness of CCTV as a crime prevention tool is questionable. From this research it appears CCTV is effective at detecting violent crime and/or may result in increased reporting as opposed to preventing any type of crime”.

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Nine in Ten TFL CCTV cameras fail to solve a single crime:

Londoners are among the most surveyed people anywhere in the world, captured by cameras in nearly every aspect of their daily lives. Some reports have estimated that Britain is home to as many as 20% of the world’s total CCTV cameras. In November 2011 Transport for London (TFL) announced it was looking to spend between £20m and £60m on its CCTV capability. Research published by Big Brother Watch casts serious doubt on whether that investment will do anything to reduce crime or improve public safety. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information act show how:

• TFL operates at least 82,826 CCTV cameras

• In the last twelve months, 6,972 police requests for footage were granted by TFL

• Accordingly, footage from 91.6% of cameras was not used by the police

This is hardly surprising, given it reflects previous academic studies into the use of CCTV. Indeed, the Metropolitan Police’s own research found how fewer than one crime was solved by every 1,000 cameras in the capital. Yet the British fondness for CCTV shows no sign of waning, despite a lack of any credible evidence existing that CCTV either deters or prevents crime. The significant resources being spent on surveillance are diverting money away from policing methods that could prevent crime and protect the public. CCTV is not a substitute for policing.

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Police are failing to recover crucial CCTV footage, new figures of 2013 suggest:

The Metropolitan Police are failing to recover CCTV footage in almost nine out of ten burglaries and thefts allowing offenders to escape justice, new figures have suggested.  British streets are among the most closely monitored in the world, with thousands of cameras providing round the clock surveillance.  As well as acting as a deterrent, closed-circuit television cameras fixed on pubs, shops, offices and private homes, also provide an excellent investigative tool for catching criminals.  But figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act suggest the police are failing to recover potentially crucial footage in the overwhelming majority of cases involving acquisitive crimes, such as theft and burglary. CCTV is everywhere. For a number of reasons, the police just aren’t looking at this CCTV in around 85% of cases. As a result, criminals who could have been caught are not.

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There are many studies that have found CCTV to be ineffective – below are a few:

Title Author(s) Key Findings Publication Date
Campbell Collaboration Report
‘Effects of Closed Circuit Television Surveillance on Crime
Welsh & Farrington / Home Office [...] the evaluations of CCTV schemes in city and town centers and public housing measured a much larger range of crime types and only a small number of studies involved other interventions. These CCTV schemes, as well as those focused on public transport, did not have a significant effect on crime. 2008
Why are fear and distrust spiraling in twenty-first century Britain Anna Minton / Joseph Rowntree Foundation mounting evidence shows that private security and CCTV does not reduce fear of crime or actual crime and might in fact increase crime 2008
The Cambridge evaluation of the effects of CCTV on crime Farrington, Bennett & Welsh the Cambridge evaluation is consistent with prior research in showing no significant desirable effect of CCTV on crime in city centers. 2007
No CCTV Interim Report on Cowley Road CCTV proposals No CCTV Surveillance cameras clearly present a serious threat to privacy and civil liberties and the alleged trade-offs of safety or security are unproven and vastly outweighed by the risk of creating a police state. 2007
National CCTV Strategy Home Office / ACPO Anecdotal evidence suggests that over 80% of the CCTV footage supplied to the police is far from ideal, especially if it is being used for primary identification or identities are unknown and identification is being sought, for instance, by media release. 2007
Data on London crime figures vs. number of cameras Members of London Assembly In 2007 members of the London Assembly obtained information under the Freedom of Information Act that showed CCTV has little effect on solving crime. The statistics show that more CCTV cameras does not lead to a better crime clear-up rate. In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average At that time London had over 10,000 council/police run cameras. 2007
Assessing the impact of CCTV
Home Office Study 292
Martin Gill / Home Office It would be easy to conclude from the information presented in this report that CCTV is not effective: the majority of the schemes evaluated did not reduce crime and even where there was a reduction this was mostly not due to CCTV; nor did CCTV schemes make people feel safer, much less change their behaviour. Impulsive crimes (e.g. alcohol-related crimes) were less likely to be reduced than premeditated crime (e.g. theft of motor vehicles). Violence against the person rose and theft of motor vehicles fell in the target areas in accordance with national trends in recorded crime. 2005
Shoplifters on shoplifting
University of Leicester
Hart, Gill, & Livingstone One shoplifter articulated a perception shared by others, in that he had: “… never seen a camera jump off the wall and nick anyone.” 2003
National evaluation of CCTV: early findings on scheme implementation – effective practice guide Scarman Centre National CCTV Evaluation Team Given the current paucity of evidence as to the cost effectiveness of CCTV as a crime prevention mechanism, it is reasonable that partnerships have not provided a great deal of evidence on this subject. 2003
Home Office Research Study 252 – Crime prevention effects of closed circuit television: a systematic review Welsh & Farrington It was found that CCTV had no effect on violent crimes (from five studies) 2002
To CCTV or not to CCTV? nacro Three-quarters of the Home Office Crime Prevention budget was spent on CCTV between 1996 and 1998, yet a comprehensive review has revealed the overall reduction in crime was only five per cent. A parallel systematic review carried out by the Home Office that looked at street lighting, however, found a highly significant reduction in crime of 20 per cent. 2002
Towns on Television: Closed Circuit TV Systems in British Towns and Cities
Local Government Studies
Graham, Brooks & Heery CCTV may actually undermine the natural surveillance in towns and communities . . . the result may be a further spiral of social fragmentation and atomization, which leads to more alienation and even more crime. 1999
Effect of closed circuit television on urban violence
Violence Research Group, University of Wales, Cardiff
Sivarajasingam & Shepherd If there had been a significant deterrent effect as a result of CCTV installation then a decline in police detection of violence rather than the noted increase would have occurred. This study provides no evidence of a deterrent effect. 1999
Closed Circuit Television in public places: its acceptability and perceived effectiveness
Home Office Police Research Group
Honess & Charman page 25; “public acceptance is based on limited, and partly inaccurate knowledge of the functions and capabilities of CCTV systems in public places.”page 6: “a substantial number of respondents referred to television programs such as ‘CrimeWatch’ as a source of their information about CCTV.” 1992

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CCTV 90% Illegal and 80% Ineffective:

Whether CCTV is an existing element of your security/management strategy or you are considering investing in CCTV, you need to be sure that the system will provide unequivocal evidence.  Imagine your frustration at having your CCTV evidence rejected in a health & safety claim or employment law dispute due to poor quality images or procedural mistakes. The financial impact of such cases could amount to tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds, by comparison most instances of theft can appear almost inconsequential in terms of loss. The quality of images as seen on TV News and crime reporting programs is a damning indictment of CCTV standards. Consider the numbers quoted in the headline, 90% Illegal stated by CameraWatch is based on ‘initial research’ and refers to total or partial shortfall in Data Protection Act compliance in UK. 80% Ineffective refers to the efficacy of CCTV evidence examined by the Police and is stated in the Home Office National CCTV Strategy.  These statistics are largely based on anecdotal evidence, nevertheless practical experience of those professionally involved in the assessment of CCTV systems would broadly agree with these estimates.

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A British report on CCTV vs. street lighting:

It would be foolish to claim that well-planned CCTV can never have an impact, but the effectiveness of CCTV is often overstated. We have to ensure that CCTV is not favoured in place of cheaper and more effective measures such as adequate street lighting. Areas need to be appropriately policed, not remotely policed. It is time for a reassessment of the worth of CCTV in terms of is cost, both financial and in terms of privacy. The report confirms that the effectiveness of CCTV as a tool to fight crime is greatly overstated. While there may be situations where the use of CCTV has assisted in the detection of crime there is no evidence to support the argument that it prevents crime taking place. Indeed the report suggests that street lamps are far more effective way of deterring crime.

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Does street lighting reduce crime?

Yes.

The studies showed that improved street lighting had a positive effect in reducing crimes such as burglary and theft. It did not, however, reduce the incidence of violent crimes. When all data are considered together, improved street lighting was associated with a relative reduction in crime of 21 per cent in areas it was introduced, compared to similar areas where there were no such improvements. Perhaps surprisingly, the positive effects of improved street lighting are felt in the day–time as well as at night.

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Why does it work?

There are two main explanations for why improving street lighting reduces crime.

1. By its very presence improved street lighting helps to increase surveillance, ‘guarding’ locations and deterring potential offenders. Better street lighting increases the risk of identification for offenders, it encourages more people to use public spaces, increasing the number of potential witnesses to any offence and making it less likely an offender can escape without being identified and later recognised.

2. Improved lighting signals investment in the community, increasing community pride and informal social control – and thus reversing the ‘broken windows’ effect. The broken windows hypothesis suggests that physical dilapidation in an area gives the impression that ‘nobody cares’ and thus no one will intervene against crime and disorder. Improving the environment displays ‘civic pride’ that demonstrates how much local people care about their locality. The installation of enhanced street lighting can make a location more welcoming

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Criminal use of CCTV:

Criminals may use surveillance cameras to monitor the public. For example, a hidden camera at an ATM can capture people’s PINs as they are entered, without their knowledge. The devices are small enough not to be noticed, and are placed where they can monitor the keypad of the machine as people enter their PINs. Images may be transmitted wirelessly to the criminal.

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CCTV, education and school:

Washington County Closed-Circuit Educational Television Project:

The Washington County Closed-Circuit Educational Television Project was the first closed-circuit television network in aiding elementary school teaching by the use of television programs.

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CCTV in education as a teaching aid:

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There are two categories of educational closed-circuit television, the total teaching and the visual aid.

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Advantages of CCTV in education:

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Benefits and Uses of CCTV Cameras in Schools:

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CCTV in Classrooms:
There are a variety of situations in which CCTV cameras are used to provide surveillance, especially schools. Sometimes, in larger schools, providing security guards is not enough. It is not uncommon for some schools to install CCTV security systems in their premises to monitor and keep track of all the activities that take place. Sometimes, in larger schools, providing security guards is not enough for school security. This is usually done with complete awareness on the student’s, parent’s and teacher’s parts.

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There are many benefits of using CCTV surveillance systems in schools:

School Security:
-CCTV security systems help in preventing or identifying unauthorized intruders who enter the premises, thereby promoting school security.
-Keeping track of remote entrances and exits is easier through CCTV cameras.
-CCTV surveillance systems can keep track of housekeeping and ensure they are doing their work.
-CCTV security systems help organize exit in case of emergencies.
-School security measure to protect school property and identify perpetrators and vandals.
For Teachers:
-CCTV surveillance systems help in the protection of staff vehicles.
-They keep track of teacher attendance and punctuality.
-CCTV cameras can help keep track of teacher’s attitude and methodology in teaching.
For Students:
-CCTV cameras aid monitoring and preventing bullying amongst students.
-They help in ensuring discipline and punctuality amongst students.
-Prevent or track student thefts.
-Keep parents mind at ease about school security and environment.
CCTV surveillance systems in schools are a way of ensuring a safe, secure and healthy learning environment for children. Always consult with experts to work out the most strategic places to install CCTV cameras in your school.

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In the United States and other places, CCTV may be installed in school to monitor visitors, track unacceptable student behavior and maintain a record of evidence in the event of a crime. There are some restrictions on installation, with cameras not being installed in an area where there is a “reasonable expectation of privacy”, such as bathrooms, gym locker areas and private offices (unless consent by the office occupant is given). Cameras are generally acceptable in hallways, parking lots, front offices where students, employees, and parents come and go, gymnasiums, cafeterias, supply rooms and classrooms. The installation of cameras in classrooms may be objected to by some teachers.

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CCTV, traffic and transport safety:

CCTV and traffic monitoring:

Many cities and motorway networks have extensive traffic-monitoring systems, using closed-circuit television to detect congestion and notice accidents. Many of these cameras however, are owned by private companies and transmit data to drivers’ GPS systems. The UK Highways Agency has a publicly owned CCTV network of over 1,200 cameras covering the British motorway and trunk road network. These cameras are primarily used to monitor traffic conditions and are not used as speed cameras. With the addition of fixed cameras for the Active Traffic Management system, the number of cameras on the Highways Agency’s CCTV network is likely to increase significantly over the next few years. Other surveillance cameras serve as traffic enforcement cameras.  Ever opened the mailbox to find a ticket for running a red light or speeding, even though you were never actually pulled over by police? That’s all thanks to closed circuit traffic monitoring systems. But while we all hear about the growing number of “red light cameras” popping up at busy and dangerous intersections, video surveillance isn’t just for issuing traffic tickets. With ever-increasing traffic volumes in metro areas, interstates and local roads have become far more congested, and reckless driving and accidents happen more frequently than ever. Many cities now mount surveillance cameras above busy roadways to monitor traffic flow, watch for aggressive or reckless driving, and examine the details of crashes and vehicle wrecks.

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Area Traffic Control System (ATCS):

Using computerization and closed circuit television (CCTV) monitoring, ATCS allows traffic authorities and police to monitor and control traffic flows. Police can also capture on camera vehicles violating traffic laws, trace their police registration numbers and issue traffic summons. ATCS can control traffic from remote locations with officials working from central control rooms. The cameras installed are now able to capture cars breaking the law with high definition cameras, with additional capabilities for close up shots of both the driver and license plate. Loudspeakers installed at ATCS intersections will also allow direct communications with errant drivers.

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Public Transport safety:

From trains and buses to subways and taxis, public transit is becoming ever more protected by CCTV, with surveillance cameras being installed not only in vehicles, but in stations and depots as well. Video monitoring helps to deter crimes against passengers, drivers and conductors, but also provides visual evidence for prosecution in the event that an individual is victimized or property is destroyed. For example, on a subway train, CCTV cameras may allow the operator to confirm that people are clear of doors before closing them and starting the train. Operators of an amusement park ride may use a CCTV system to observe that people are not endangered by starting the ride. A CCTV camera and dashboard monitor can make reversing a vehicle safer, if it allows the driver to observe objects or people not otherwise visible.

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CCTV, industry and business:

Employers may install CCTV for various reasons including:

•Security: to prevent theft, violence and other crime.

•Health and safety: to check that health and safety rules are being complied with and/or so that footage is available in the event of a specific breach.

•Protecting business interests: e.g. to prevent misconduct.

•Assessing and improving productivity

•Compliance with legal and regulatory obligations: this is more likely in the financial services sector.

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Industrial processes:

Industrial processes that take place under conditions dangerous for humans are today often supervised by CCTV. These are mainly processes in the chemical industry, the interior of reactors or facilities for manufacture of nuclear fuel. Special cameras for some of these purposes include line-scan cameras and thermographic cameras which allow operators to measure the temperature of the processes. The usage of CCTV in such processes is sometimes required by law.

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Control of retail:

Some as software integrate with CCTV to monitor the actions of workers in retail environments. Every action is recorded as an information block with subtitles that explain the performed operation. This helps to track the actions of workers, especially when they are making critical financial transactions, such as correcting or cancelling of a sale, withdrawing money or altering personal information.

Actions which an employer may wish to monitor could include:

  • Scanning of goods, selection of goods, introduction of price and quantity;
  • Input and output of operators in the system when entering passwords;
  • Deleting operations and modifying existing documents;
  • Implementation of certain operations, such as financial statements or operations with cash;
  • Moving goods, revaluation scrapping and counting;
  • Control in the kitchen of fast food restaurants;
  • Change of settings, reports and other official functions.

Each of these operations is transmitted with a description, allowing detailed monitoring of all actions of the operator. Some systems allow the user to search for a specific event by time of occurrence and text description, and perform statistical evaluation of operator behaviour. This allows the software to predict deviations from the standard workflow and record only anomalous behavior.

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Corporate Uses for CCTV:

CCTV allows corporations and businesses to train, educate, and inform the workforce with ease. A training class led by one instructor can ensure that hundreds of employees are up to date on the latest techniques or requirements. Larger corporations with multiple locations, such as big box stores, often have CCTV systems in break rooms, which constantly run the latest information about the company and corporate culture. This kind of CCTV uses satellite to carry the signal instead of cable, but the concept is identical in nature. Security cameras also rely on CCTV to filter surveillance video to the appropriate viewers.

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Business Surveillance:

CCTV is one of the easiest ways for business owners to monitor employees and deter crimes in their establishments. Whether the place of business is a restaurant, office, bank or retail store, cameras placed in money-handling areas, back offices, storage rooms and sales floors can not only monitor employee access to these areas, but also help prevent theft, vandalism, and other forms of misconduct. Business surveillance is equally is important throughout off-hours as it is during business hours, since almost anything can happen overnight in an unoccupied facility. Security cameras not only provide evidence of theft, but also help owners and managers keep tabs on overnight cleaning and maintenance crews, to ensure that all required tasks are being carried out. CCTV systems are imperative for all businesses, whether you operate an office or own a local restaurant. They are one of the best ways to ensure commercial security for your business.

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The Other Side of Using CCTV:

There are many far more interesting uses where imagination and flare can bring immediate and tangible benefits. So here I am looking at non-security applications for CCTV. Many of these applications were one off requirements, which for a purchased installation would have been impossibly expensive.

Recording the birth of a gorilla in a zoo at night:

Apparently gorillas are very private animals, particularly when expecting a birth. The BBC wildlife programme wanted to record the events leading up to and after the birth, but the problem was during the night when any illumination would be unacceptable. The solution was to use an infrared illuminator with an 850 nanometer filter which would be totally unobtrusive with an infrared sensitive camera and time lapse VCR. The result was the first recorded birth of a gorilla in captivity.

Making a wildlife program in an isolated area using a model helicopter:

Many exotic locations for wildlife filming are too remote or inaccessible to reach on foot or from conventional helicopters. One solution was to fit a miniature camera and radio transmitter to a small model helicopter. This was radio controlled and comparatively unobtrusive to the local wildlife, creating unique footage of film.

Reproducing the infrared vision of a goldfish:

A university was studying the ability of fish to apparently ‘see’ and navigate through murky water. The theory was that goldfish had vision that was sensitive to infra light. It would seem that where the visible part of the spectrum was largely reflected by water, infra light penetrates further. To simulate this, a camera was fitted with a filter that restricted its sensitivity to only the infrared part of the spectrum. An infrared illuminator was directed from above and the views from the camera noted. It was interesting to set up and different from run-of-the-mill CCTV.

Safety at Grand Prix racing:

After the tragic accident of Nicki Lauder at The Nurburg Ring in Germany, Grand Prix racing drivers banned the track for major events. In May 1994 a new Nurburg Ring was opened with a computer-designed track and many new safety measures. The particular item of interest is a Geutebruck system of cameras connected back to a video motion detection system in the control room. Each camera monitors an area of the track, with zones defined alongside the track. If a car leaves the track it is detected and a view of the area instantly displayed at the control room and the appropriate action can be set into motion. If it is an accident, emergency teams can be directed to the scene immediately; even saving seconds can make the difference between life and death. The system would also detect a spectator straying onto the trackside. If a car leaves the track and rejoins the race, the system is automatically reset.

There are many other examples of the innovative use of CCTV other than security, such as:

1. Production control in factories.

2. In a stage show to see obscured parts of a set.

3. Use at football stadia.

4. Arial photography from a hot air balloon.

Many of these applications require some lateral thinking and flexibility on the part of installation companies. Many of these systems have provided excellent value for money for the end user and can be very profitable for the installer.

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Social, psychological and human aspects of CCTV:

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CCTV and social control:

The rise of technological forms of social control has brought with it a dramatic shift in the nature of dealing with crime in society. A great deal of modern techniques of crime prevention are centered around the utilitarian principle of deterrence; as surveillance in the form of telephone tapping, interceptions of letters and emails and the electronic monitoring through CCTV camera systems gives the impression that the individual is under constant surveillance and therefore forces them to discipline themselves. Questions over the legitimacy of modern social control have arisen due to the fact that it tends to assert visions of order and justice on behalf of particular individuals or groups. Arguably the methods and the functioning of technological forms of social control as well as the ends serve to benefit particular social groups, as modern pervasive surveillance results in individuals aligning their own behaviour and actions in accordance with the social norms and patterns that are external to themselves. Individuals are forced to discipline their own behaviour and actions in accordance with that which is acceptable with social authority, asserting its presence through the omnipresent forms of technological social control. This correction of behaviour goes to benefit those in control of surveillance, especially considering the merger of public and private spheres in the development of surveillance. Furthermore as the political and economic elite in society have enlarged the scope of social control, this has subsequently led to the setting of social standards of behaviour and forms of etiquette that adhere to their own interests. This means that not only does modern social control marginalise and stigmatise certain social groups based on socio-economic inequalities; it also furthers the interests of society’s elite. This is due to the fact that it is a mechanism used to assert social standards, coercing individuals into certain forms of behaviour through an omnipresent threat which has an increasingly tightening grip on the decisions and actions of individuals. Powerful bureaucracies perform the task of collecting vast amounts of private information in both public and private spheres, together with technological advancements seen in the rise CCTV and the subsequent effect of forcing people to discipline themselves; this has resulted in the increasingly efficient forms of mass surveillance and control. Technological forms of social control assert particular views of order and justice to a great extent. From its conception, camera surveillance has been primarily used for the purpose of furthering the interests of the elite. With regard to this, as well as the way in which it consistently marginalises and stigmatises by targeting certain disadvantaged social groups, it arguably reveals that the views of order and justice that surveillance asserts are those of society’s elite. Individuals subject to constant and pervasive surveillance such as that in modern society are forced to discipline themselves as they are never sure when or if they are being watched, meaning they align their behaviour with that which is enforced by social control, even if it may work against their interests. Furthermore the extent of modern technological surveillance is often unbeknown to the individual, raising questions over the motives and the legitimacy of those in power managing social control. This presents the reality that not only does surveillance stigmatise and pervade privacy, but its increased efficiency leaves no room for the consideration of individual circumstances, treating people as a series of cases rather than unique individuals. This then means that the stifling regulation of the state enforced through surveillance creates a hostile and extremely impersonal environment towards the individual subject to its repression, by forcing them to act within a certain group’s idea order and justice.

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CCTV: from social control to management tool:

Several countries have adopted CCTV video surveillance technology not as a measure for social control, but as a management tool to monitor and administer transport systems, rationalize the maintenance of building infrastructure and fire prevention, and for the management of social spaces. Countries like Switzerland have widely adopted CCTV technology as a tool for operational management of public areas.

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Discrimination and social exclusion vis-à-vis CCTV:

As Norris and Armstrong have shown in their study of the operation of three CCTV control rooms, selection for targeted surveillance is, at the outset, differentiated by the classic sociological variables of age, race, and gender. Nine out of ten target surveillances were on men (93%), four out of ten on teenagers (39%) and three out of ten on black people (32%) Moreover, while displays of ‘suspicious behaviour’ played a part in determining who was surveilled, it was not the most important reason. From their study 36% of people who were subject to prolonged targeting, were surveilled for ‘no obvious reason’. Only one quarter (24%) of people were targeted for surveillance because of their behaviour but 34% of people were surveilled merely on the basis of belonging to a particular social or sub-cultural group. Unwarranted suspicion did not fall equally on all social groups. Two thirds (65%) of teenagers were surveilled for no obvious reason compared with only one in five (21%) of those aged over thirty. Similarly black people were twice as likely (68%) to be surveilled for ‘no obvious reason’ than whites (35%) and men three times (47%) more likely than women (16%). In short, the young, the male and the black were systematically and disproportionately targeted, not because of their involvement in crime or disorder, but for ‘no obvious reason’ and on the basis of categorical suspicion alone. As Norris and Armstrong concluded: As this differentiation is not based on objective behavioural and individualised criteria, but merely on being categorised as part of a particular social group such practices are discriminatory (Norris and Armstrong 1999:150). These British finding have been confirmed by studies in other parts of Europe. In the Netherlands, Dubbeld’s study of a railway CCTV control room described graphically the selective targeting practices of the operators: Operators had their own ways of categorising and classifying the objects of their surveillance. Operator identified suspicious individuals as ‘Naffers’ (short for North Africans, usually Moroccan or Turkish men) or called them ‘cockroachs’, ‘crazy pancakes’, ‘little rats’, ‘nazis’, ‘faggots’, annoying little men’, ‘mongols’, or ‘pancakes’ (Dubbeld 2004:121). In Milan, Fonio, on the basis of her observational study of a CCTV control room reported: In particular, North-Africans and East Europeans were tracked for no particular reasons but their appearance … Behavioral patterns did not play an important role in determining who had been monitored. Two social categories were also targeted on the basis of their appearances: young people, in particular those who were poorly dressed and nice-looking women (Fonio 2007:14). Thus, rather that promoting a democratic gaze, the reliance on categorical suspicion intensifies the surveillance of those already marginalized and increases, yet further, their chance of official stigmatisation. As von Hirsh and Shearing have noted, exclusion is frequently at the heart of situational crime prevention strategies and that is ‘now being extensively used in privately owned spaces that have public functions, such as shopping malls’ (von Hirsh and Shearing 2000:77). Wakefield’s study of an English mall with an extensive CCTV system found, over a five-week period, that 578 people were excluded and 65% of these exclusions involved ‘known offenders’ (Wakefield 2000:134:5) As McCahill reported in his study of the CCTV system in a North of England mall, it was anonymous groups of teenagers who were most likely to be targeted, deployed against and ejected; not because of any past or present legal infraction but because they were, in dress and demeanour, seen to be disrupting the commercial image of the mall (McCahill 2002). Similar results have been found in Lomell’s study of the operation of three CCTV systems in the Norwegian capital: Summing up, one can say that in Oslo, CCTV has had it most exclusionary effects in the most privatised of public spaces, where it is used mainly as a discriminatory tool ensuring marginalized people are kept out of site of consumers. Ejections were a substantial result of video surveillance operations at two of the sites namely the shopping mall and the transport center. In large part, these ejections were pre-emptive. That is to say, the majority of the exclusions were in response to appearances and categorical suspicions; only a minority of these ejections was in response to observed criminal or nuisance behaviours (Lomell 2004).

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Are there Psychological Effects of CCTV?

For some people the use of CCTV in city centers does make them feel safer. For others there is the constant feeling of having their movements monitored. The adverse effects of CCTV monitoring for some people can be a constant feeling of paranoia, the feeling that an attack may occur. Many children who have had CCTV cameras placed in their school toilets would no longer use the facilities. According to the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch the UK is now raising a generation of children that are accustomed to being constantly monitored.

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Human side of CCTV:

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We tend to look at CCTV as a detection tool, but there’s no real detection going on. In reality, today’s CCTV systems still rely on their human operators. And humans are… only human. But it is possible to improve operator surveillance by recognising and playing to the limitations of human biology. Active surveillance is an intellectually demanding task. It requires you to sit behind a screen and focus intensely. Really, 30 to 40 minutes is the maximum you can monitor effectively what’s going on in a very complex environment. For dedicated surveillance, operators can really only focus on between 1 to 2 monitors at a time. A good operator must also have the ability to differentiate between colours, pick up on motion and speed, recognise patterns and anomalies, and have a good memory. They must also have good observation skills, including the ability to scan, focus, and make use of their peripheral vision, and have access to good intelligence information.  A good operator who understands what’s going on in the environment can detect individuals who are preparing to commit crimes, intervene and prevent the crime from being committed.  You might have an operator in a control room with a couple of hundred cameras. They could have up to 20 or more screens to monitor. They could also be manning a phone and other things. In this case they are not necessarily going to see the subtle behaviours that will alert them to an incident starting to emerge.

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Is manned guarding or CCTV more effective?

Some companies are asking themselves whether it is more economical and efficient to choose a CCTV over manned guarding.  CCTV is a vital part of any security system and should definitely be included in your budget; however, there are certain things that CCTV cameras are unable to accomplish, like covering those blind spots. Using a manned system has many advantages over CCTV. CCTV lacks a personal touch and is unable to use judgement in situations. A human is able to pick out which situations and events they fell are threatening of suspicious whereas a camera is unable to do this. With a manned guarding system in place, you can be assured that whether or not you have a CCTV system on site, the human touch can maximize the effective functionality of any equipment that you may choose to operate in your establishment. If you ensure you have a good manned guarding system in place you can be safe in the knowledge that your building will be protected twenty four hours a day. Due to the fact a guard is able to see immediately what the trouble is they are more likely to act upon it straight away which is not the case with CCTV. In order to prevent accidents and any other possible threats, the security guard is constantly monitoring the security cameras themselves. By using both methods, you ensure that you establishment has maximum protection. Unlike CCTV people have emotions which means that they are more likely to do a better job for you because they care about what they are doing You must be aware though that people do occasionally make mistakes. By ensuring you have employed a good mix of reliable people you will probably find they won’t let you down because they want to get paid! Additionally if you employ people with a previous background in the security sector they will be able to assist you with other security related issues. One of the main reasons for choosing manned guarding is the fact that security guards are human beings. There is usually a tough training process involved in becoming a security guard. Security guards have other skills such as communication and the ability to fill out paperwork which gives them another advantage over cameras.

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CCTV Consultant:

Only a few years ago, specialist consultants in CCTV were a rare breed and often associated with installation companies who cannot give independent and unbiased advice. Now there are quite a number of consultants offering independent advice on many aspects of CCTV.

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What are the benefits of employing an independent CCTV consultant?

Objectivity:

One of the most important reasons for using the services of a consultant is to receive completely unbiased and objective advice. Most installing companies have preferred products for very sensible commercial reasons. It is natural therefore that they should present these in the best possible light. It can be very difficult for a customer to differentiate between the claims of competing salespeople.

Serving your interest:

A professional consultant is employed by you and has no incentive to promote any particular product or system. Most consultants keep up to date on the performance of various products through experience with installations and trouble shooting. Not all products that appear equal to the layperson are necessarily so, the consultant can steer you away from products with a poor track record for performance or reliability. The pressure on the customer to differentiate between competing proposals is eliminated.

Saving your time:

Most business people these days have little enough time to spare and will be directing their efforts into running and sometimes, the survival of their company.

Saving you money:

Most people have had experience of the wide variations in price between competing quotations for apparently the same specification. Unlike the purchase of machines or standard products, CCTV or access control systems are likely to be a new venture by many companies and local authorities. They simply cannot be expected to have the experience and detailed knowledge on which to judge differing proposals.

Peace of mind:

Technology moves rapidly ahead these days, with many ways of increasing the effectiveness of both new and existing systems. Multiplex recording, video transmission, colour cameras, detection of movement, etc. are all very much more advanced than only one year ago. Even so, products with apparently similar specifications to the layperson can differ dramatically in actual performance under particular circumstances. This is especially true today in the case of digital recording and so called digital cameras. Here again, objective advice can be invaluable in the selection of the right equipment for the job.

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CCTV, laws and privacy:

The need for video surveillance has grown in this technologically driven era as a mode of law enforcement. Video Surveillance is very useful to governments and law enforcement to maintain social control, recognize and monitor threats, and prevent/investigate criminal activity. In this regard it is pertinent to highlight that not only are governments using this system, but residential communities in certain areas are also using this system to create a safer environment. However, this move is fundamentally opposed by many civil rights and privacy groups across different jurisdictions and have expressed concern that by allowing continual increases in government surveillance of citizens that we will end up in a mass surveillance society, with extremely limited, or non-existent political and/or personal freedoms. We have now moved into an age where security seems to be the primary issue for most countries and their citizens. Video surveillance is increasingly being used to assuage the fears of the citizens and bring perpetrators to justice. In such a scenario, the issue of privacy rights of individuals seems to have taken a backseat. While some countries such as Canada and Britain have attempted to strike a balance between the need for surveillance and the privacy rights of the people, other countries such as the United States of America and Japan do not seem to have made much progress in terms of creating video surveillance norms or regulations to protect the privacy rights of citizens. Considering the pressing need for video surveillance to address national security issues, India surprisingly has no laws on the same. In this regard, India needs to draw from the experience of the United Kingdom and Canada. The first step is to enact laws permitting video surveillance. These laws should be tightly worded and strictly connoted, considering the encroachment on civil liberties. Further, in order to balance security with privacy, the next step is to create an office for the information commissioner. It should be created and powers should be conferred to ensure that the privacy related disputes are handled efficiently and expeditiously. Furthermore, the misuse of the powers conferred upon surveillance authorities should be deterred by giving further powers to the commissioner to impose pecuniary liability.

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A 1978 survey on the topic of CCTV in the workplace found that 77% of employers interviewed supported the use of CCTV on the job. However, it also found that a majority of employees felt that CCTV in the workplace constituted an unwarranted intrusion, and favored the passage of laws prohibiting such surveillance. Ironically, the ascendancy of more sophisticated electronic employee surveillance technologies such as keystroke monitoring of information workers has rendered CCTV somewhat obsolete as a visual management technology.

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The Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 in the United Kingdom led to legal restrictions on the uses of CCTV recordings, and also mandated their registration with the Data Protection Agency. In 2004, the successor to the Data Protection Agency, the Information Commissioner’s Office clarified that this required registration of all CCTV systems with the Commissioner, and prompt deletion of archived recordings. However, subsequent case law (Durant vs. FSA) limited the scope of the protection provided by this law, and not all CCTV systems are currently regulated. However, private sector personnel in the UK who operate or monitor CCTV devices or systems are considered security guards and have been made subject to state licensing. The UK Home Office published a code of practice in 2013 for the use of surveillance cameras by government and local authorities. The aim of the code is to help ensure their use is “characterized as surveillance by consent, and such consent on the part of the community must be informed consent and not assumed by a system operator. Surveillance by consent should be regarded as analogous to policing by consent.”  Under the law, all public surveillance cameras must be registered with the Information Commissioner, and the following conditions must be met:

• An appropriately sized (at least A4) sign must be present to indicate the presence of a camera.

• The sign must state the purpose of the camera system.

• Information captured should only be used for its intended purpose.

• Cameras should be placed to avoid capturing irrelevant or invasive images.

• Individuals have a right to a copy of any data held about them.

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Request CCTV footage of yourself in UK as per DPA:

You have the right to request closed circuit television (CCTV) footage of yourself. The CCTV owner must provide this within 40 days, and can charge up to £10. You need to make a request in writing to the owner of the CCTV system. The owner’s details are usually written on a sign attached to the camera, unless the owner is obvious (like a shop). You should tell them you’re requesting information held about you under the Data Protection Act, and provide information to help them identify you, like:

•a specific date and time

•proof of your identity

•a description of yourself

The CCTV owner decides how they provide the footage, and can edit it to protect the identities of other people. The CCTV owner can invite you to a viewing of the footage, but only if they’re unable to provide you with the footage itself.

They can refuse your request if:

•the footage has other people in it

•it would put a criminal investigation at risk

CCTV footage of a crime:

If the CCTV footage relates to a crime and the police have the footage, they will tell you if you can see it.

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Can I give the footage to anyone else?

Giving camera surveillance footage to a third party outside the agency who does not already know it (and is not in a position to find it out) is called a ‘disclosure’. The privacy principles have rules about when you can disclose personal information. Some of the circumstances in which you would be able to disclose footage containing personal information include:

•If the individual captured by the camera was reasonably made aware this would occur (for example, there was a collection notice posted near the camera that said the disclosure would occur)

•If the disclosure is authorised or required by law

•If satisfied on reasonable grounds that the disclosure is necessary for a law enforcement activity being carried out by a law enforcement agency or to prevent or lessen a serious threat to an individual or the public.

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Legal issues vis-à-vis CCTV:

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Digital evidence:

Admissibility of Digital Images as Evidence:

A common misconception in the surveillance and monitoring industry is that digital images are inadmissible as evidence in court. The truth is that digital images are admissible as evidence in courts, provided that the digital images are appropriately authenticated.  It is the ease with which digital images can be processed, or are processed before being recorded in memory, which has caused some in the surveillance and monitoring industry to doubt whether or not digital images are admissible as evidence in court. The compression of digital images is actually quite a procedurally straightforward (if mathematically complex and intensive) exercise. The second concern which some in the surveillance and monitoring industry have regarding the admissibility of digital images as evidence in court relates to the ease with which a digital image can be processed. Digital images are usually stored in binary format in computer memory. This generally means that they can be processed just like any other computer data. Indeed many modern films rely on such processing in order to achieve dramatic cinematic effects and most newspapers now use digital processing techniques to touch-up photographs or to create montages. Therefore digital images like other types of evidence, require to be appropriately authenticated. What is meant by authentication in this context? For these purposes, authentication is the process of convincing the court that a document (which would include a digital image) is what it purports to be: of proving the origin of the image and that it has not subsequently been altered (or, where alteration has occurred, proving the nature of the alteration). Such alteration could include, for example, image enhancement or image manipulation. There are the technical methods by which digital images may be authenticated including, for example, by watermarking, by encryption or by digital signature. In event of doubt, the court may seek opinion of forensic laboratory to know whether digital image/video is doctored or not using science of digital forensics. In India, all electronic records are now considered to be documents, thus making them primary evidence. Increasingly, incidents or crimes are being captured and recorded on CCTV recorders. Such recordings are accepted by the courts as being real evidence. In order to use video/tape recordings as evidence, the prosecution must prove that the tape or video recording is authentic or genuine. The prosecution must explain how and why the recording was made and who had control of the recording afterwards. The defense may object on these grounds and it will then be a matter for the judge to decide whether or not to allow the recording to be put to the jury. In around 70% of all cases, CCTV footage is found to be inadmissible as evidence in a Court of Law because the quality of the evidence is considered inadequate. This can result from the poor design and bad installation of the system and highlights the importance to seek professional advice from the outset.

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Problems with using CCTV Evidence in Court:

Photographic or video evidence is often seen as infallible – either damning or exonerating suspects. However, it can have its problems. There are many different types of CCTV cameras and image quality can vary greatly. Some cameras record still frames at intermittent times; for example, they may take a photo every second or half-second which can miss vital parts of an incident. Many cameras still record in black and white, and most do not record sound – which can present problems of its own. Poor quality images can be problematic from the perspective of both the defense and prosecution. From a prosecution point of view, cameras that take pictures at intermittent times may fail to pick up an offending act e.g. a punch or kick. The defense will often be able to rely upon this omission to establish ‘reasonable doubt’ regarding the commission of the act. From a defense perspective, such footage may omit defensive movements by the defendant or aggressive actions by the complainant. Furthermore, prosecutors will sometimes engage expensive experts to identify suspects from blurry footage using facial and body mapping techniques. Such ‘expert evidence’ may be difficult to overcome, especially if a defendant cannot afford the extra thousands of dollars for a report of their own. And how accurate can ‘facial mapping’ really be if the image is poor or the person featured is wearing a disguise? Some say that such ‘expert opinions’ are just as prone to error as traditional eye witness testimony. In Scotland, William Mills was wrongfully convicted on the basis of CCTV images which showed a man wearing sunglasses and a scarf over his mouth. Police identified Mills as the man in the video, and eye witnesses picked him out during an identity parade. Mills was found guilty despite continuing to proclaim his innocence and declaring he had lost faith in the justice system. But he was ultimately released when it was found that he was not the bank robber at all. This is just one example of the problems with identification evidence – whether by way of CCTV footage, eye-witness testimony or facial mapping.

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Recognition standard of CCTV:

So if you are using the PAL (analog) system and wish to identify an Unknown Person they need to be 100% of screen height and to recognise a Known Person then must be a minimum of 50% of the height of the screen. However if you have a recorder that produces pictures in 4CIF or D1 (digital), because the resolution is better than PAL, to identify an Unknown Person they only need to be 70% of screen height and to recognize a Known Person they must be a minimum of 35% of the height of the screen. The Home Office Operational Requirements Manual for CCTV states that while recording one picture per second per camera is adequate where there is little activity, 6 to 12 pictures per second per camera should be recorded where there is busy activity such as doorways. Home Office guidelines recommend a minimum 120% size image for identification by CCTV to be permissible in court – this means that you should provide a view (of at least) from the head to the knees to outwit the arguments of a sharp barrister.

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CCTV and privacy:

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The House of Lords (UK) have expressed their view that privacy is an “essential prerequisite to the exercise of individual freedom”. We can no longer say that we live private lives when every move is being watched by CCTV cameras. Such surveillance renders our society as equivalent to a large scale big brother. Our every move can be traced and information can be gathered about our daily activities. If this information were to be misplaced, which central government seems to do frequently, then who knows what other breaches our freedoms will endure.  The use of CCTV can be an invasion of privacy. The cameras are capable of recording innocent people going about their daily activities. Under the Human Rights Act 1988 the use of CCTV in certain circumstances can be seen as an infringement on privacy. An individual who installs a CCTV camera that points on their neighbour’s property can be infringing on the neighbour’s right to privacy. CCTV cameras installed in the home should be used for home security only.

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Privacy Right:

Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. The right to privacy protects you against unnecessary and heavy-handed state surveillance and intrusion into your personal life. The right to privacy can only be limited by law when it is necessary to do so in a democratic society for reasons such as national security, public safety, the prevention of crime or protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Any limitation on this right must be proportionate. The importance of the right to personal privacy becomes self-evident in the immediate aftermath of the horrors of the Second World War. The right to a private life is based on principles of human dignity and is inherently linked to many other rights such as equal treatment and free expression. A society that does not pay proper regard to personal privacy is one where dignity, autonomy and trust are fatally undermined.

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Human Rights and the Use of CCTV:

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerns the right to family and private life. This includes the right to respect for an individual’s home and correspondence. The right contained in Article 8 is known as a qualified right which means that there may be circumstances in which some interference with it is justifiable. This right means that an individual has the right to the level of personal privacy which is compatible with a democratic society, taking into account the equivalent rights and freedoms of others. Any interference with this right by a public authority may be subject to a test of acceptability. The state and public authorities are permitted to interfere with an individual’s Article 8 right to privacy if the interference has an obvious legal justification. Amongst other reasons, this could be because the interference is necessary to protect national security or for the prevention of crime. In addition to having a clear legal justification, the amount of interference with the right must be proportionate to the end result achieved and only go as far as is required to achieve that result. Public authorities, including the police and local councils, must balance the benefits of using CCTV against an individual’s right to privacy.

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As the use of cameras and video recorders becomes more common, society at large is becoming concerned about privacy issues related to cameras and other security surveillance devices. Many people feel that cameras, especially hidden ones, are a threat to their right of privacy. Security professionals and facility managers who use cameras and other surveillance devices need to understand the legal implications of installing such devices. In today’s litigious environment, people who feel that their privacy was invaded are likely to sue, particularly if your company is a well-established company with “deep pockets”. The improper use of surveillance devices may also subject your company and its managers to prosecution for violation of federal or state laws.

Here are a number of things to consider prior to installing any type of camera or other surveillance device:

•Camera surveillance and video recording in “public” spaces is usually legal.

•Camera surveillance and video recording in “private” spaces is usually not legal. A private space is a space where a reasonable person would have an “expectation of privacy”. Areas where an “expectation of privacy” exists include restrooms, showers, dressing rooms, lockers rooms, employee lounges, first aid rooms, and other similar spaces.

•The laws relating to the recording of audio are usually much stricter than the laws relating to the recording of video. Despite the fact that most video recorders allow the recording of audio as well as video, the use of the audio recording feature is illegal in many applications.

•Some jurisdictions may require that a sign be posted giving notice that the area is under video or audio surveillance.

•Cameras that observe employee work areas are usually legal, but can create morale problems if employees feel that the cameras are being used to track their productivity and work habits. The coverage and purpose of cameras and other surveillance devices should be clearly communicated to all employees. It is suggested that this topic be included in the company employee handbook.

•Companies who have employees represented by a union or other trade organization should verify that the installation of cameras or other surveillance devices does not violate the terms of any collective bargaining agreement.

•Be especially careful with hidden or “covert” camera installations. While it may be tempting to try and catch a thief, an improperly obtained recording is useless as evidence and may subject the company to legal damages costing far more than any theft ever would. The use of covert cameras in theft investigations is not a “do-it-yourself” project and is best left to skilled investigators who are familiar with the applicable laws. Check the laws concerning audio and video surveillance applicable in your country or province. The proposed use of cameras (particularly covert cameras) in questionable areas should be reviewed by your attorney prior to installation.

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Despite its usefulness, the use of CCTV surveillance is not without controversy. CCTVs can be regarded as some to be an invasion of one’s privacy. For instance, if they are installed thoughtlessly at say someone else’s bedroom or bathroom, it will indeed be an intrusive act. CCTVs should also not capture part or all of the properties of one’s neighbour since this may constitute an act of voyeurism or harassment. Some employers, with the intention of making sure their staffs do not waste time on the job (e.g. surfing the Internet and chatting) or steal from them, install CCTVs to monitor them. The employees may feel offended if they hold the view that their employers are spying on them. Mistrust and hostility may result as constant monitoring puts workers ill at ease. Employees must be notified of the installation should the employer wishes to do so. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to understand the rationale behind the need to install a CCTV and the location at which this is done so as not to be perceived as a personal intrusion of one’s privacy. It is an abuse of CCTVs when they are used to observe someone’s behaviour or to obtain personal information. Users must exercise responsibility and should not distribute footage to unauthorised personnel or make it public. Essentially, they should only target specific areas that have specific problems to be solved. There should be provisions for sanctions/ punishments for any abuse of CCTVs and remedies/ protection for those harmed by its misuse.

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Opponents of CCTV point out the loss of privacy of people under surveillance, and the negative impact of surveillance on civil liberties. Furthermore, they argue that CCTV displaces crime, rather than reducing it. Proponents of CCTV cameras have argued that the cameras are not intruding into people’s privacy, as they are not surveilling private, but public space, where an individual’s right to privacy can reasonably be weighed against the benefits of surveillance. However, anti-surveillance activists have held that there is a right to privacy in public areas. Furthermore, while it is true that there may be scenarios wherein a person’s right to public privacy can be both reasonably and justifiably compromised, some scholars have argued that such situations are so rare as to not sufficiently warrant the frequent compromising of public privacy rights that occurs in regions with widespread CCTV surveillance. Widespread CCTV surveillance violates citizens’ rights to privacy and anonymity within the public sphere by jeopardizing both their liberty and dignity and therefore CCTV surveillance should be reserved for specific circumstances in which there are clear and reasonably demonstrated benefits to its implementation and few ethical compromises.

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Privacy and ethics vis-à-vis CCTV:

According to the 2006 Privacy International Report, government’s policy initiatives on security are ‘destabilizing core elements of personal privacy’. Therefore, there must be an understanding on how changes in privacy laws vis-à-vis CCTV technology affect legal and constitutional protections, individual rights, freedoms and democratic institutions. The use of CCTV technology has stirred ethical concerns. These concerns refer to the lack of privacy protection, the repression of individual liberties for the ‘greater good’ and mounting fears of insecurity. They have stimulated the rise of rules and regulations which aim to protect individuals’ rights and freedoms as well as regulate the use and output of information captured by such systems. Politicians who abide by CCTV as an effective and successful method in the field of crime prevention, suggest that the presence of CCTV systems in public spaces act as a deterrence to criminals or potential offenders. Therefore, innocent individuals should not be bothered by its presence. The cameras target offenders and thus offer no harm to the general public. This mentality is widely used to convince the public that CCTV systems are used for a specific reason and do not impinge on issues of privacy or civil liberties. This mentality in fact poses an ethical concern, which assumes that in general individuals are innocent and must give up some liberties for the ‘greater good’ (to detect the ‘rotten apples in society’). For many, this entails a repression of rights and freedoms in the name of an ineffective method (Bach 2008). In several countries, the public has expressed concern over the issue of how improvements in technology (increasing places under surveillance) are detrimental to the protection of privacy and personal data (Ruegg et al. 2004). France’s Commission national de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) warns of the dangers of CCTV of taking away freedoms of individuals (Guibert and Langellier 2007). In this case, there is also an absence of structures of accountability when it comes to controlling, monitoring and assessing information from CCTV systems. Fay (2004) suggests that there is a concern that authorities and operators of CCTV systems may abuse it for personal or collective interests: bribing, entertainment, court cases, etc. Another ethical issue surrounding CCTV is its role in the increasing exclusion and discrimination of certain groups and individuals. Stephen Graham (2002) refers to ‘exclusionary and inclusionary’ powers, which lead to social boundaries or the exclusion of certain groups in society which are deemed as ‘disruptive’ to social order. This situation results in unfair targeting of groups and stigmatization. Honess and Charman found that video surveillance controllers were overscrutinizing young black males, and ‘scruffy people’ without due cause. CCTV imposes stereotypical expectations, guilty by association charges and misinterpreted innocent actions. A study conducted in Oslo, Norway revealed that citizens articulated a concern about video surveillance controllers targeting ‘scruffies’ for no obvious reason, which causes marginalization. Stephen Graham (2002) says that these outcomes reflect a dangerous level of power given to “automated, algorithmic and invisible systems of social control” which can cause more harm than good to certain individuals. Klauser (2004) discusses the impact on spaces and interactions: “video surveillance is changing the territoriality of public space users”. In other words, CCTV is restructuring the urban landscape as places of consumption, whereby private management systems are taking over and controlling public spaces as well as social, political, economic and spatial processes. Fay (1998) says that dominating consumption landscapes are the reason for installing CCTV technology. In this case, the reasons are ‘egotistical’ and entail economic benefit to retailers in urban settings. The outcome is that individuals are stigmatized and excluded from certain public spaces due to their geographical location, ethnicity and social status for the sake of capitalistic motives.

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Women commuters raise privacy issues, delay CCTV installations in local trains in Mumbai:

The decision to install close-circuit television cameras (CCTV) in Mumbai’s local trains has now been delayed further as women commuters have raised privacy issues and the railways are now reworking on the proposal to install them on train’s corridors and passages and not near the seating area. A section of women commuter associations in Mumbai have a different view on the matter.  According to them CCTVs must be installed in all corners of the trains. “When one is travelling by public transport, there is nothing like privacy. Safety should be utmost priority. There have been big fights and crimes in trains and in case someone dies, the cameras will be an important evidence in nailing the criminal,” Vandana Sonawane, commuter activist said.

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Neighbourhood watch: how domestic CCTV is sweeping the UK:

Many UK homes are now bristling with CCTV cameras, sometimes causing bitter disputes between neighbours. “We get a lot of submissions from the public with regard to problems they are having with their neighbours’ CCTV,” says Peter Fry, director of the CCTV User Group. Fry’s organisation primarily concerns itself with CCTV use by local authorities and companies, but in the absence of a domestic equivalent they are getting an ever-increasing number of complaints about domestic use. “The problems are many and varied,” says Fry. “There are accusations of paedophilia if cameras are pointed into gardens where children play; there are issues of harassment, and concerns about people using zoom lenses. When people raise these issues with me, I usually suggest they take it up with the police.” He says the rules are confused and need clarification, but that, even though there is no specific law covering domestic CCTV, it may still be deemed to constitute harassment, and the courts may be willing to issue an asbo against the camera user.

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A 2010 document from the European Forum for Urban Security, “Charter for a Democratic Use of Video-Surveillance” provides a useful overview of the issues at stake as well as a set of principles and tools to ensure that citizens’ rights are respected with CCTV systems. These include:

•Necessity: The use of camera systems must be justified empirically, ideally by an independent authority. Objectives and intended outcomes must be defined.

•Proportionality: CCTV equipment must be appropriate for the problem it is intended to address. Technology should “respond to the established objectives, without going further.” Data should be protected and the length of time it is retained be clearly defined.

•Transparency: Citizens should know what the objectives of a CCTV system are, what its installation and operational costs are, the areas being surveyed, and what the results are. Reports should occur regularly so citizens can make informed decisions.

•Accountability: Those in charge of public CCTV systems should be clearly identified and accountable to the public, whether the systems are run by the government or private firms.

•Independent oversight: An external body should be charged with ensuring that systems respect the public’s rights and are achieving their stated objectives. Ideally citizens would have a voice in the oversight process.

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The world should follow British model for CCTV use:

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CCTV pros and cons:

CCTV cameras have the potential of creating unintended effects, good and bad. The “halo effect” refers to the potential for greater security in areas outside the view of cameras; this could be offset by the “displacement effect,” which pushes antisocial activity to other parts of the city. Cameras could also promote a false sense of security and lead citizens to take fewer precautions, or they could also cause more crimes to be reported, and thus lead to a perceived increase in crime. CCTV footage is frequently too poor to identify anything useful; police are often too slow to collect CCTV (by which time the footage has been wiped); or, in cases where people allege misconduct by the authorities, footage has sometimes mysteriously disappeared. If criminals are wearing masks or have their faces obscured while being recorded on CCTV cameras, there may be very little that the police can do to successfully identify them if there isn’t more useful information to use. And as with the 2013 revelations of widespread data collection by the U.S. National Security Administration, the indiscriminate gathering of information on law-abiding citizens, however well-intentioned, has the potential for misuse. The Washington Post reported in February 2014 that new aerial video surveillance technologies are being deployed that can monitor virtually everything in an area the size of a small city.

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CCTV does have weaknesses—some technical, and some related to camera placement and monitoring. First, systems that are cheaply made or improperly installed have limited value. Cameras can be vandalized or disabled, and standard cameras do not capture images well under poor lighting conditions, although newer technology can compensate for this. Hackers and guerilla artists have exposed the vulnerabilities of the video systems in an act dubbed “video sniffing”, they have crossed feeds, uploaded their own video feeds and used the video footage for artistic purposes. Second, CCTV works best in areas with open and plain layouts. Complex areas and layouts make a high degree of camera coverage difficult to obtain. Third, when cameras are used for surveillance, fatigue—both physical and mental— can affect the performance of staff watching the monitors. Finally, some critics maintain that the cameras mainly record minor offenses, such as public urination, graffiti, and vandalism. On the other hand, the growth in CCTV installations demonstrates a general consensus that the presence of cameras seems to deter crime. Moreover, so far no one has been able to prove definitively that the use of cameras in one area displaces crime to neighboring areas.

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Apart from their numerous strengths, CCTV Cameras may be disadvantageous when it comes to personal privacy, too. Homeowners who’ve got CCTV camera systems set up in their own homes are going to be monitored 24/7. They won’t have the capacity to perform what they wish to do because they are being watched every single second, every single minute, every single day. Getting several CCTV Cameras and installing the best CCTV cameras at home can certainly help protect against as well as discourage crooks and also intruders. Yet, you’re also limited from performing a lot of things without restraint.

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Advantages of CCTV:

There are many benefits of using a CCTV security system. Some are obvious, others less so. The most common benefits that get reported to us are:

1. Increased deterrent – CCTV systems are a great deterrent to potential thieves. Once they realize that your home or business is protected by a closed circuit television system they invariably choose to go somewhere else.

2. Safer working environment – CCTV helps to ensure adherence to health and safety policies and can be invaluable in staff training.

3. Reduced retail theft – shop lifters deliberately target businesses with poor security and will think twice if there is an increased risk they may be caught on camera.

4. Increased detection – the prosecution rates for businesses / home owners using CCTV is many times higher than that for those without CCTV. If you are unfortunate enough to be a victim of crime at least there will be a strong chance of detection and conviction.

5. Eliminate fraudulent insurance claims – in an increasingly litigious society is has never been more important to protect your business against claims that are not legitimate. CCTV can eliminate this and reduce your premiums.

6. Remote monitoring – keep an eye on your home or business when you aren’t there.  CCTV systems can be viewed and controlled remotely over the internet (via an iPhone, laptop etc).

7. Reduced fear of crime – knowing you are well protected gives a feeling of security that should not be underestimated.

8. Receive warnings in advance – CCTV systems can alert you of any suspicious activity (via text or email), enabling you to view what’s happening and if necessary notify the police before a crime has been committed.

9. Increased professionalism – CCTV is an excellent staff training tool.

10. Staff protection – CCTV is perfect for preventing assaults and false claims of misconduct (ideal for schools, hospitals etc).

11. CCTV today often supervises industrial processes that take place under conditions too dangerous for humans.

12. Many cities and motorway networks have extensive traffic-monitoring systems, using closed-circuit television to detect congestion and notice accidents.

13. Monitoring the situation at home : maid, children, sick family members etc.

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Disadvantages of CCTV:

1. Encourage complacency:

Security cameras should be one part of a more comprehensive business security system complete with alarms, electronic access control panels and environmental hazard detectors (smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and sprinkler systems). You need additional security measures to ensure complete protection for your business.

2. Can’t stop robberies in progress:

Cameras capture footage so you can receive justice in court, but they can’t stop a robbery in action. They don’t alert police like an alarm system does. That means, even with the perpetrator behind bars, you’ll still have intangible losses to deal with, such as the goodwill lost when customers no longer feel safe, and the time wasted in court, making insurance claims and reordering stolen inventory.

3. Can be useless in police investigations:

Most thieves will do everything they can to hide their identity while doing a misdeed. If the perpetrator is masked and hooded, the footage picked up by a security camera can prove worthless in an investigation.

4. CCTV does not reduce crime:

A recent study by the Scottish Centre for Criminology shows that virtually all claims of crime prevention are false. Crimes of passion, crimes involving drugs and alcohol, and actions by professional criminals are not prevented by the cameras. One study by Brighton University’s Health and Social Policy Research Centre flatly concluded that there is no evidence they are having any deterrent effect on criminals. In fact, the report says the incidence of violence and disorder in the areas covered by the cameras is on the increase. In many instances the cameras have made the streets a more dangerous place. Cameras might make some people feel safe but the vast majority of crimes committed within the range of cameras are not detected. The cameras are often looking in a different direction, are not functioning, or are unable to recognise a crime being commissioned. Criminals have eyes too, and they know which direction a camera is facing.

5. CCTV is misused as replacement of policing:

Across Britain, CCTV is being used to engineer a fundamental change to policing practice. Instead of police being there, on the street, to prevent crime, they are reacting to acts that appear on a screen. While the occasional well publicised interception may occur, most criminals have escaped long before the police arrive. Many small towns have installed CCTV only to find their police numbers are immediately reduced. Hardware is being used to replace community spirit and traditional community policing. And while the police retreat further and further from the people they are supposed to protect, we become more vulnerable to crime.

6. CCTV is a tool to enforce morality and public order:

Originally installed to deter burglary, assault and car theft, in practice most camera systems have been used to combat ”anti-social behaviour,” including littering, urinating in parks, underage smoking, traffic violations, graffiti, fighting, obstruction, drunkenness, indecency, and evading meters in town parking lots. The majority of so called “detections” by cameras are of this nature. CCTV is also used by authorities to track the movement of individuals “of interest”, and to monitor public meetings, marches and demonstrations.

7. CCTV is a honey pot for perverts:

There is a rapidly growing body of evidence that CCTV is being abused. The recent commercial distribution of the “Caught in The Act” video involving people in a variety of intimate situations created widespread anxiety. One camera operator in Mid Glamorgan has been convicted on more than 200 counts of using cameras to spy on women, and then making obscene phone calls to them from the control room. The prestigious magazine New Scientist reports that one leisure centre has placed cameras in a women’s changing room. The images are monitored by men.

8. CCTV is a tool for prejudice and discrimination:

In many instances, CCTV system operators routinely exercise their prejudices to discriminate against race, age, class or sexual preference. They openly proclaim that this is a necessary part of their duties. One camera operator in Burnley told a Granada documentary “people mainly with shirts and ties are OK. Most people you can tell just by looking at them”. Another said “I tell by the hair”. A recent report by Hull University highlighted endemic discrimination against blacks, gays, minorities and young people.

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Electronic tracking is type of surveillance using electronic device like cell phone, electronic tag etc.

Here is comparison of CCTV with electronic tracking:

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CCTV vandalism:

Unless physically protected, CCTV cameras have been found to be vulnerable against a variety of (mostly illegal) tactics:

1. Some people will deliberately destroy cameras. Some cameras can come with dust-tight, pressurized, explosion proof, and bullet-resistant housings.

2. Spraying substances over the lens can make the image too blurry to view.

3. Lasers can blind or damage them. However, since most lasers are monochromatic, color filters can reduce the effect of laser pointers. However, filters will also impair image quality and overall light sensitivity of cameras. Also, complete protection from infrared, red, green, blue and UV lasers would require use of completely black filters, rendering the camera useless.

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CCTV technological development:

It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss in detail various technological developments and innovations of CCTV over years. However, a brief overview of technological developments and innovations is indispensable.

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Video analytics (video content analysis):

Video Analytics (VA), also referred to as Video Content Analysis (VCA), is a generic term used to describe computerized processing and analysis of video streams. Computer analysis of video is currently implemented in a variety of fields and industries, however the term “Video Analytics” is typically associated with analysis of video streams captured by surveillance systems. Video Analytics applications can perform a variety of tasks ranging from real-time analysis of video for immediate detection of events of interest, to analysis of pre-recorded video for the purpose of extracting events and data from the recorded video. Relying on Video Analytics to automatically monitor cameras and alert for events of interest is in many cases much more effective than reliance on a human operator, which is a costly resource with limited alertness and attention. Various research studies and real-life incidents indicate that an average human operator of a surveillance system, tasked with observing video screens, cannot remain alert and attentive for more than 20 minutes. Moreover, the operator’s ability to monitor the video and effectively respond to events is significantly compromised as time goes by. Furthermore, there is often a need to go through recorded video and extract specific video segments containing an event of interest. This need is growing as the use of video surveillance becomes more widespread and the quantity of recorded video increases. In some cases, time is of the essence, and such review must be undertaken in an efficient and rapid manner. Surveillance system users are also looking for additional ways to leverage their recorded video, including by extracting statistical data for business intelligence purposes. Analyzing recorded video is a need that can rarely be answered effectively by human operators, due to the lengthy process of manually going through and observing the recorded video and the associated manpower cost for this task. While the necessity for, and benefits of, surveillance systems are undisputed, and the accompanying financial investment in deploying such surveillance system is significant, the actual benefit derived from a surveillance system is limited when relying on human operators alone. In contrast, the benefit accrued from a surveillance system can be significantly increased when deploying Video Analytics. Video Analytics is an ideal solution that meets the needs of surveillance system operators, security officers, and corporate managers, as they seek to make practical and effective use of their surveillance systems.

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Video analytics is the use of sophisticated algorithms applied to a video stream to detect predefined situations and parameters. These can include but are not limited to the following.

1. Motion Tracking – Following a moving object across the cameras view

2. Object detection – Detect a moving object in the cameras view

3. Object classification – Identify the type of object moving (Person, animal, Vehicle)

4. Direction Flow – Identify the direction of a moving object

5. Loitering – Alert if object stationary beyond a predefined time

6. Left/Removed object – Alert if an item is left or removed from a predefined area

7. Face detection – Detect and record faces

8. People Counting – count people in and out of a defined area

There are many processes involved in developing a video analytics platform right from obtaining the video data, this can be from either an analogue camera or an IP camera, it could also be with some systems from a video file (avi, wmv). The video images are then passed through image extraction, feature and edge detection algorithms. These will check the image for recognisable details, compares the foreground to the background and differentiates between them by only detecting foreground objects.  At this point the systems have enough information to make intelligent decisions based on the pre-set rules and parameters set in the software. It can then either ignore or raise alarm depending on these rules. Along with all the obvious security uses video analytics is being developed constantly and new features create new opportunities in different market places. Areas such as marketing and retail can also benefit from a VA systems as it can track how many people enter a building or area, how long people stay in certain areas. It can also monitor queue lengths, queue times, provide heat maps and show customer flow. All this information allows the end user to have a better understanding of how their business operates and provides measurable performance.

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Modern high-definition cameras feature a lot of computer-controlled technologies allowing them to identify, trace, and categorize objects. Video Content Analysis (VCA) is actually the capability of automatically analyzing video to capture and define temporal events which aren’t based on a single image. In other words, it can be regarded as the automated equivalent of the biological visual cortex. Systems that employ VCA are able to recognize changes in the environment, identify and compare objects stored in the database by size, speed, and even color. One can program the camera’s actions based on what it sees – for instance, an alarm can start if a certain object has moved in a specified area, or if it is missing, or if someone has spray painted the lens. Besides, VCA analytics can be used to detect various unusual patterns in a videos environment – the CCTV system can be set to reveal anomalies in a crowd, like a person moving in the opposite direction in airports in the area where passengers are only allowed to walk in one direction, or in a subway where people can’t exit through the entrances. Another feature of VCA is that it can track people on a map by calculating their position from the images. After you linked several cameras, you can track a person through the entire building or area, which is useful for tracking a person without analyzing hours of film. Today the surveillance systems can’t easily identify people from video alone, but if you connect them to a key-card system, you will see the identities displayed as a tag over their heads on the film. A difference in where the VCA technology is located is either the information is processed within the cameras or by a centralized server, because both technologies have their benefits and drawbacks.

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Facial recognition system:

It is a computer application for automatically identifying or verifying a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source. One of the ways to do this is by comparing selected facial features from the image and a facial database. The combination of CCTV and facial recognition has been tried as a form of mass surveillance, but has been ineffective because of the low discriminating power of facial recognition technology and the very high number of false positives generated. This type of system has been proposed to compare faces at airports and seaports with those of suspected terrorists or other undesirable entrants.

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Face recognition useless for crowd surveillance:

Using face-recognition technology to scan airport crowds for terrorists is, quite simply, worthless in that situation. As an authentication tool, used in controlled settings, face recognition has real value. Here we can expect a false acceptance rate (FAR) of one in 250. This means that under controlled circumstances….you could expect one false positive out of 250 people when face recognition is used alone. But in uncontrolled settings, such as we’d encounter in a surveillance context, the performance of face recognition falls to absurd depths. With indoor light, and a prior image taken at 1.5m camera-subject separations and another taken at 2m camera-subject separations, the best false detection rate (FDR) was 33 per cent, with a false acceptance rate (FAR) of ten per cent. This means that to detect 90 per cent of terrorists we’d need to raise an alarm for one in every three people passing through the airport. It’s absolutely inconceivable that any security system could be built around this kind of performance.

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Next Generation Identification (NGI) – Developed by FBI, USA:

Next Generation Identification (NGI) is a technology developed by FBI, USA. NGI is a face recognition system for CCTV Cameras. By using this technology FBI is planning to catch known criminals. NGI has an algorithm that matches people faces with an archive of mug shots. This new technology has capability to identify people using security camera footage and pictures uploaded to the Internet. It also uses biometric tools like Iris Scans, DNA Analysis and Voice recognition which matches the surveillance with known criminal’s photos and help agencies better identify and catch suspects. This technology can identify faces even from a busy crowded street.  As per the reports provided, the project has an accuracy of 92% in identifying the people faces over 1.6 million mug shots.

Disadvantages:

1. It cannot identify the face of person, if he/she covers his face or wears dark glasses.

2. It only recognizes the known criminals in the database which matches with FBI records but can’t study the aggressive behaviour of people who are ready to attack

3. It can identify only the people but not the deadly weapons like guns, knives, bombs etc

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Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR):

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Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is an important growth product to take off in the world and in fact, it is already beginning to be the biggest potential earner for installation companies. ANPR is the generic term generally used in the UK but other terms are common in other parts of the world such as; NPR (Number Plate Recognition), LPR (License Plate Recognition).  If you scan a document into your PC and then open it in a word processor you cannot edit or alter it in any way. This is because it is simply one bitmap made up of thousands of individual pixels. However there is software available, frequently a freebie with scanners that can convert these groups of pixels into characters. This is Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which scans each group of pixels and estimates whether or not it could be a letter and replaces the pixels with the ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) code for the letter. For instance the ASCII code for the lower case ‘a’ is 01100001. So, the software scans the whole document and produces a page of letters exactly the same as though you had typed them in, which can be edited or manipulated in any way. OCR is the fundamental technology used in ANPR and provides the capability to store and sort data. ANPR cameras need to be a special type and set up within certain important parameters.  As a vehicle approaches the camera the software takes a series of ‘snapshots’ and stores them in a file. When the number plate is of sufficient size for the OCR software the frame is scanned and the registration number is converted to ASCII code and held in a list. This continues for a series of images according to the speed and position of the vehicle. The list is scanned for similarities and a ‘favourite’ selected to retain. The system would typically scan and compare 10-15 images, with 5 being considered the minimum for high accuracy but some systems only take one image at a certain position. This then, is the start of the ANPR capture and is totally dependent on the correct set up of camera, lens, illumination, angle of view and configuration. Get one wrong and you have a disappointed customer who won’t pay the bill.

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Video Motion Detection devices (VMD):

The primary function of a VMD system is to relieve CCTV operators from the stress of monitoring one or many screens of information that may not change for long periods. The VMD system will be monitoring all the cameras in its system, and only reacting when there is suspicious activity in one of the scenes. During the long periods of inactivity the operator can continue with other tasks, secure in the knowledge that when something occurs the system will immediately respond. Even a moderate sized system, with eight cameras, would prove impossible for an operator to monitor. Eight monitors could not be viewed with any degree of concentration for more than about twenty minutes. If the monitors were set to sequence, then activity on seven cameras is lost for most of the time and would be totally ineffective to detect intruders. With more cameras in a system, the task of detecting intruders becomes impossible and technology must take over the strain. The idea of VMD systems is that the processor is continuously monitoring all the cameras in the system. During this time, the, operator may select or sequence cameras using the conventional switching system. The system may include an additional monitor connected to the VMD system that will normally show a blank screen. When activity in any camera occurs that the VMD system interprets as an intruder, the alarmed camera is immediately switched to the blank monitor and a warning sounded to alert the operator. The operator’s attention, is therefore, immediately focused on the camera covering the alarm. The detection of an intruder can also set off further events, such as setting a video recorder to real time recording, setting a matrix switching system to sequence through a specific series of cameras, etc. The operator can analyse the scene and take the appropriate course of action. An intruder could generate an alarm and be out of view of the camera before it is displayed. The operator would therefore see just a blank screen and be unsure about what to do next. To overcome this, at the time of detection, many VMD systems will capture an alarm image sequence containing one or more freeze frames. This may be displayed as the first view on the previously blank screen. The operator may then examine the scene at the instant of alarm in more detail.

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Video Motion Detection is an electronic method of detecting a change in the field of view of a camera. In its simplest form, this is achieved by storing one frame of the video information and then comparing the next frame with this to decide whether there has been a change. The change detected would be a difference in the video voltage, indicating a change of brightness within the scene. This would be initially ignored as an alarm until a further frame confirmed the change, or not. If confirmed as a change of brightness in the scene, then an alarm would be generated. This could cause a contact to close and activate some warning device such as a buzzer, or cause the switcher to select the camera that detected the motion. The sampling process may take somewhere between one fiftieth of a second and one second to detect a change, depending on the method of sampling. This simple detector could be used in an environment where all conditions were absolutely stable and the only possible change in brightness would be due to an intruder. However, the intruder could be a mouse or a person. The system couldn’t differentiate between the two. In addition, by the time the alarm is displayed on a monitor, the cause of it could be out of view. If the scene were being continuously recorded, the event could be reviewed but this may be too late to take effective action.

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The figure below shows VMD detecting change in signal:

The upper segment shows genuine alarm and lower segment shows false alarm:

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There are really only two types of alarm, genuine alarms and false alarms. Sometimes mention is made of ‘spurious alarms’, unexplained alarms and system failures. These must only be considered as false alarms because the system has alarmed for no apparent reason. A genuine alarm is one created by deliberate nefarious human action, e.g. by movement of a person or vehicle into the detection field or disturbance of the alarm system. A false alarm is one that has no deliberate human input, such as those caused by animals, birds or any malfunction of equipment. One measure of the efficiency of a system is the ‘False Alarm Rate’ (FAR). This is the ratio of false alarms to a time scale, i.e. five per day. The FAR level will depend on many local site considerations. The objective is to reduce this to the minimum without missing any real alarms. Another measure is the ‘probability of detection’ (PD) rate, which is the ratio of detections to the number of attempts in controlled tests. The ideal for PD is 100%.

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The 10% Rule:

There is an empirical rule used widely in CCTV system design that in order to distinguish a person on a monitor, they must be at least 10% of the height of the screen. ‘To distinguish’ in this context, means that the image can be seen to be a person. This 10% is also considered to be the minimum resolution necessary for an efficient VMD system to recognise an alarm situation. Many VMD systems will certainly respond to smaller targets, but with the probability of generating a higher number of false alarms, and the difficulty of identifying the cause. There may be occasions where a different factor is required; in these cases the equations can be adapted to the need.

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Limitations of Simple VMD Systems:

The limitations of the types described for demanding external situations are as follows.

• Will not cope with moderate changes in light levels.

• Sporadic generation of alarms in high contrast scenes.

• Will not cope with changing weather conditions.

• Lack of size discrimination means compromise in setting up.

• Non-uniform sensitivity with range.

• Will not cope with size variation due to perspective.

• Slow processing speed can miss moving action.

• Inability to discriminate between small high contrast dark and large low contrast objects.

• Prone to false alarm due to camera shake.

• Cell measurements prevent accurate area discrimination.

• Restricted to small areas of view.

• Unlikely to detect a person at 10% of screen height.

• Only simple algorithms can be computed.

• Cannot distinguish between a person moving in a line and a waving object.

• Single processor increases time between frame comparisons.

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Closed-circuit digital photography (CCDP):

Closed-circuit digital photography (CCDP) is more suited for capturing and saving recorded high-resolution photographs, whereas closed-circuit television (CCTV) is more suitable for live-monitoring purposes. However, an important feature of some CCTV systems is the ability to take high resolution images of the camera scene, e.g. on a time lapse or motion-detection basis. Images taken with a digital still camera often have higher resolution than those taken with some video cameras. Increasingly, low-cost high-resolution digital still cameras can also be used for CCTV purposes. Images may be monitored remotely when the computer is connected to a network.

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Spot aggressive behavior using CCTV:

A computer program can analyze CCTV images and spot aggressive human behaviour nine times out of ten, according to research published in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics. The research is an important step forward in intelligent security systems that could raise an alarm without requiring constant human vigilance. Image-processing experts in Algeria used a geometrical analysis of images to create a silhouette of a person on the screen. The system then maps the movements of the person’s limbs, the team then correlates those movements with aggressive and passive behaviour so that the algorithm learns what particular changes in geometry are associated with aggression. The program can automatically distinguish between hand clapping, waving and a punch being thrown, for instance. The system can also discern whether a person is walking, jogging or running. The resulting algorithm has 90 percent accuracy, compared with other systems the best of which is around 80 percent accurate. On a standard data set the accuracy is as high as 98 percent whereas the best alternative is 95 percent. The team points out that the algorithm is robust and not susceptible to changes in lighting conditions and noise in the images. This allows it to work well in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings, street, airport, sports stadium etc. Moreover, the simplification of the images to human silhouettes reduces the computational overhead significantly and allows the analysis to be carried out quickly without the need for a high-performance computer. With increasing numbers of CCTV cameras monitoring people in city centers as part of crime-reduction efforts, technology that can automate the process of spotting aggressive behaviour without increasing numbers of people to monitor the video streams is becoming more and more important.

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Kintense System – Developed in University of Virgina:

Inspired from Microsoft’s gaming sensor Kinect, a research scholar from University of Virgina designed a sensor for CCTV Camera to predict a person’s aggressive behaviour such as kicking, pushing, hitting and throwing. The system Kintense analyses a person’s body and identifies where the joints are in order to create a real-time 3D skeleton figure. This concept is not fully developed, it is still under development.

Advantages:

1. Person need not face camera

2. Recognizes the person’s aggressive behaviour

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CCTV software advances:

Some of the most interesting CCTV technology advances are being made in the software that digital CCTV systems use.

1. Automatic CCTV identification and analytics:

The latest trend is the development and adoption of automatic identification and analytics packages. Huge advances have been made, particularly in the fields of sound and gait recognition, along with other advanced suspect identification and tracking systems. It’s cutting out the tedious human effort of monitoring large numbers of screens and making the CCTV operative’s job much more efficient and focused on responding to actual threats.

2. Sound recognition:

Advanced audio recognition CCTV software means that sounds like gunfire, breaking glass or arguments or aggressive voices can be picked up automatically and warnings sent out to the CCTV operative.

3. Gait recognition:

CCTV software can even identify people by how they walk. Facial recognition software is becoming better, but particularly where you have large crowds, it’s hard to identify people by their faces. However, people’s gaits are all individual and hard to fake, and advanced CCTV systems are actually able to identify people by the way they walk.

4. Suspect identification and tracking:

An innovative new ‘tag and track’ system has also been developed by Kingston University. The system identifies the suspect from their appearance and other features, and then ‘tags’ them, so that other cameras on your CCTV network pick up on them and continue monitoring them. Depending on where and when they were first identified, a realistic number of your cameras are notified, rather than system resources being needlessly used up by having the whole system searching for them.

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CCTV and cloud computing: Recording off-site ‘to the cloud’:

The latest technology enables recording the captured footage off-site, via the internet over ethernet or cellular networks (3G, 4G and soon 5G).  This is saved ‘to the cloud’ – meaning it is stored on computers in data centers – made possible by a visual network adapter (VNA) which also fully encrypts the visual data. VNAs can, as a fail-over precaution, usually store the video straight onto digital media such as SD cards using the site’s internal computer network – wired/ethernet or WiFi (in case the phone-line or mobile signal are lost). A cloud-based management system (dashboard style software) allows playback of the video, either in real-time or recorded, using the internet on a computer and mobile device.

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Advantages of video surveillance in the cloud:

Video surveillance is one of the latest applications to reap the potential benefits of a cloud makeover. Let’s briefly examine the potential advantages of putting video surveillance in the cloud. One of the first has to be the ability to make video surveillance both more accessible and affordable, mostly by removing the need for a complex and often expensive local storage and monitoring infrastructure. Local recording is still possible for those that want it – but why not host the required infrastructure in the cloud and deliver access as a service? Then the customer only needs cameras and connectivity. The cloud also makes it a lot easier to include remote and otherwise inaccessible locations in the CCTV mix, especially given the ready availability of WiFi and mobile internet connectivity options. Cameras can be deployed in the most vulnerable areas where fixed line communications simply aren’t available. And then there’s the little matter of managing and monitoring, a task that traditionally involved banks of displays in dedicated control rooms, plus complex VPN technology to protect links to remote sites. Move CCTV into the cloud and all you need is a desktop or laptop PC with a browser and internet access. You can even use a smart-phone or tablet to see what’s going on. Moreover, security can be delivered using the same tried and tested encryption technologies used to routinely protect other internet services. Migrating CCTV into the cloud makes sense for many and addresses numerous shortcomings associated with analogue and digital IP systems – all the more so because it needn’t be an ‘all-or-nothing’ solution. There’s no reason why cloud-based CCTV can’t be deployed alongside – and integrated with – existing on-premise surveillance technologies to enhance and extend the reach of those systems. It makes sense and – as with so many other applications – putting CCTV in the cloud is something we’re all going to get used to.

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Aerial CCTV surveillance:

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There is growing interest in performing aerial surveillance using video cameras. Compared to traditional framing cameras, video cameras provide the capability to observe ongoing activity within a scene and to automatically control the camera to track the activity. However, the high data rates and relatively small field of view of video cameras present new technical challenges that must be overcome before such cameras can be widely used. Airborne surveillance has been widely used in different range of applications in civilian and military applications, such as search and rescue missions, border security, resource exploration, wildfire and oil spill detection, target tracking, surveillance, etc. Besides using manned aircrafts, the unmanned airborne vehicle (UAV) can also be used for aerial surveillance which is equipped with special sensors (day / night) to image objects in ground and assigns the actual recognition task (surveillance) to the crew or record image data and analyze them off-line on the ground. Pilot less airborne vehicle with sensor carrying platforms transmit data to a ground control station for analysis and data interpretation.

Aerial surveillance technologies include:

1. Aerial Video Surveillance

2. Multi-sensor Fusion

3. Automatic Fuselage Vision Inspection

4. Satellite Image processing

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Future Technology in CCTV:

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The best CCTV in future would have following features.

1. The future CCTV Camera should be able to detect people away from half a mile

2. The system should be able to recognize the face of the person from any angle i.e. person no need to face camera completely in order to get recognised

3. The system should be able to capture the criminal in a large crowd and send an alert or alarm to security if the record is already in the security database

4. The system should also identify the people carrying deadly weapons and send an alert to security

5. The system should be able to identify the aggressive behaviour of person like kicking, pushing, throwing, jumping and hitting

6. Not only the aggressive behaviour, the system should also identify the unusual behaviour of the people who are possible risk for terrorist attacks. Here the unusual behaviour includes

-Keeping bag/luggage at a particular place and leaving away

-Covering the face completely in order to hide from security surveillance

-Apart from individual person, the system should be able to identify the group of people who are behaving in an unusual manner

7. The system should be able to detect the potential risk of chain snacking, pick pocketing, kidnapping, robbery etc by studying the unusual behaviour of the person or group of people in a crowd and send an alarm to security.

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Future CCTV should be such that no criminal can escape police.

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Moral of the story:

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1. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) means cameras doing video surveillance of activities of a person or place either ‘live’ or through video recording. Closed circuit means installation of directly connected components creating a circuit which cannot be viewed by anybody outside the circuit, unlike a terrestrial television broadcast system which can be viewed by anybody with the appropriate reception equipment.

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2. Britain has 1% of world’s population but 20% of its CCTV cameras in 2007. Britain has more CCTV cameras per person than anywhere else in the world. An average British citizen is caught on camera 300 times a day.

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3. For image to develop in camera, light must fall on object and reflected light enters camera to fall on image sensor (CCD or CMOS) that convert incident photons into displacement of electrons due to photoelectric effect. The displaced electrons in image sensor would elicit change in voltage and consequent analog signal akin to incident light. This analog signal would be converted into image on a magnetic tape. This is still image. CCTV is nothing but a sequence of still images taken by camera that gives impression of motion and that optical illusion of motion is what we call video. The phi phenomenon is the optical illusion of perceiving continuous motion between separate objects viewed rapidly in succession utilizing visual form of memory known as iconic memory in our brain. Traditional CCTV systems are analogue, tape-based systems. When analog signals from image sensor (CCD or CMOS) are digitized in the camera itself using digital signal processing (DSP), it becomes digital camera which makes digital image of an object. Images are captured as digital files and stored in computer’s hard drive or DVD or NVR or IP camera itself. Traditional analog CCTV system can be upgraded by connecting to DVD which converts analog images into digital images obviating need of video tapes but the captured video cannot be enhanced.

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4. Analog CCTV camera (conventional CCTV) has analog signal processing with analog video output while IP camera and digital camera have digital signal processing and digital video output but IP camera additionally has embedded web-server with IP address to transmit video & audio through internet. Digitalization allows distribution of the images over the Internet almost instantaneously to anywhere in the world, and to a variety of devices such as mobile phones or hand held computers.

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5. Analog signal is a signal in continuous waveform analogous to the information itself where small fluctuations within the signal are meaningful, and invariably small fluctuations would occur as signals pass from camera through cabling, switching/multiplexing, recording and finally display (many stages), resulting in loss of accuracy and quality of image. Digital signal is a signal where signals are represented by binary numbers, through a series of 0’s and 1’s in relevant order, and this digital signal is transferred through each of these stages with total precision, because each tiny element of the signal is represented by a number. Therefore digital image of an object would closely resemble the object without loss of quality. Also digital images can be copied, transmitted, stored, processed and retrieved without loss of quality.

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6. Shorter the focal length of lens and larger the size of CCD (charged couple device), wider the field of view of CCTV camera. One should not confuse field of view with depth of field. The field of view is that part of the world that is visible through the camera and expressed as an angle of view. Depth of field is that part of field of view where objects are in focus of camera. Objects outside depth of field are out of focus of camera even though they may be in the field of view. The distance at which detail can be captured using a camera is its optical range. It varies from few meters to even 10 kilometers.

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7. Resolution can be defined as the fineness of detail that can be distinguished in an image. Analog resolution in TVL (television lines) and digital resolution in pixel can be correlated for comparison. Maximum resolution of conventional analog CCTV image is 0.4 megapixels while IP (internet protocol) CCTV image can have resolution from 1.3 megapixels to even 21 megapixels. There is so much resolution within IP CCTV images that the recordings can be expanded to reveal facial identity after an event. Besides better resolution; use of video analytics, large scale wireless transmission, remote access and remote viewing are distinct advantages of IP CCTV over conventional CCTV. There is no need for multiplexing, coaxial cabling, balun adapters, CCTV keyboards, analog VCRs and tapes when IP camera is used. However conventional analog CCTV are cheaper, having easy maintenance and perform well in low light, darkness or fluorescent lighting.  2012’s statistics indicate that only 16% of all CCTV cameras sold worldwide were IP cameras.

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8. CCTV camera having infrared LED (light emitting diode) illumination is ideal for covert surveillance at night; the camera can see but the intruder cannot, as IR (infrared) is invisible to the human eye. IR illumination also works well over long distances with optical range up to 300 meters in total darkness. However IR camera should not be misused to invade privacy of others at night.

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9. CCTV complements existing police system and not replaces it. Over the time, policemen on the beat become more effective in helping to reduce crime while cameras become less effective. London Metropolitan Police report showed that in 2008 only one crime was solved per 1000 cameras. The significant resources being spent on surveillance are diverting money away from policing methods that could prevent crime and protect the public. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than anywhere else in the world. CCTV is not cost-effective and almost every alternative crime prevention strategy has been shown to be cheaper and more effective.

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10. Good street lighting at night is more effective than CCTV for crime prevention. Improved street lighting was associated with a relative reduction in crime of 21 per cent in areas it was introduced, compared to similar areas where there were no such improvements.

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11. About 0.05% to 3% crimes are solved by CCTV.

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12. CCTV does not reduce feelings of insecurity but increase feelings of discomfort and fear among people.

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13. CCTV does not create a physical barrier to crime and therefore can rely to a large extent on changing offenders’ behaviour. Therefore key to the success of CCTV is offenders’ views regarding its effectiveness. Ironically many offenders do not worry about CCTV. Also, potential offenders are aware of public cameras, so they change choice or location of the crime. Offenders can also vandalize or disable CCTV camera and do video sniffing to upload their own video feeds. Offenders can also wear mask to hide their identity.

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14. CCTV may improve detection and reporting of violent crime but does not prevent violent crime. CCTV is most effective in preventing car thefts at car parks. Crimes of passion, crimes involving drugs and alcohol, and actions by professional criminals are not prevented by the cameras. CCTV does help the police in gathering evidence but as a deterrent to crime it is something of a failure.

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15. Most studies on the effect of CCTV on crime are flawed due to presence of confounding variables (notification of CCTV cameras on site, fencing, improved street lighting, and improved policing), poor methodology and imperfect comparisons. Such studies suggest that CCTV systems have preventative and reactive measures, revive business in desolate or poor areas, increase the efficiency of the police force, build social cohesion, protect the private environment of citizens and assure confidence and ensure feelings of safety and security, thus leading to a more ordered and stable society.

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16. Today’s CCTV systems still rely on their human operators. Active surveillance is an intellectually demanding task. It requires you to sit behind a screen and focus intensely. An average human operator of a surveillance system, tasked with observing video screens, cannot remain alert and attentive for more than 20 minutes. Moreover, the operator’s ability to monitor the video and effectively response to events is significantly compromised as time goes by. Therefore the actual benefit derived from CCTV is limited when relying on human operators alone.

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17. Employing technological advances like Video Analytics, Automatic Number Plate Recognition and Video Motion Detection can increase prevention, detection and solving of crime significantly and decrease reliance on human operators.

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18. CCTV images/video is admissible as primary evidence in court of law provided it is appropriately authenticated. However, 70 to 80 % CCTV footages are useless as evidence in court of law because of inadequacy of the quality of the evidence. This results from poor design & bad installation of the system, cameras are often looking in a different direction and technical problems. Cameras do go blind, and quality & quantity of stored images is poor. A poorly installed, maintained, or functioning CCTV system is only marginally better than having no CCTV system at all.

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19. CCTV has indeed become a technological tool of social control forcing individual to discipline themselves according to what is acceptable to society’s elite. Most camera systems have been used to combat anti-social behavior and detect minor offenses including littering, urinating in parks, underage smoking, traffic violations, graffiti, fighting, obstruction, drunkenness, indecency, and evading meters in town parking lots rather than preventing crime.

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20. CCTV system operators routinely exercise their prejudices to discriminate against race, age, class or sexual preference. There is widespread discrimination against blacks, gays, minorities and young people. Discrimination is not in response to observed criminal or nuisance behaviours but in response to appearances and categorical suspicions. Ironically many of those excluded from surveillance in response to their looks and trustworthiness are known offenders.

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21. The introduction of CCTV creates a profound asymmetry of power between the watcher and the watched; not only are citizens watched by an unknown and unseen eye whose gaze they can neither challenge nor avoid, but data about them is increasingly extracted and automatically processed, in ways they have not given their consent to or even have any knowledge. Widespread CCTV surveillance violates citizens’ rights to privacy and anonymity within the public sphere by jeopardizing both their liberty and dignity. CCTV is often misused to observe someone’s behavior or to obtain personal information. We need a legal framework to strike balance between enhancing security and protecting privacy and personal data.

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Dr. Rajiv Desai. MD.

January 6, 2015

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Postscript:

The repression of individual liberties (privacy) for the ‘greater good’ of society (security) needs to be debated as CCTV is a classical example of clash of rights. You have right to protect your life while your neighbor has right to privacy; and CCTV installed by you can protect your life and inadvertently invade the privacy of your neighbor. Common sense suggests that security overrides privacy. However, whether CCTV indeed provides security is debatable and whether CCTV is installed for security reason and not to voyeur neighbor is also debatable.

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EBOLA

December 6th, 2014

EBOLA: 

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Prologue:  

The most dangerous outbreak of an emerging infectious disease since the appearance of HIV seems to have begun on December 6, 2013, in the village of Meliandou, in Guinea, in West Africa, with the death of a two-year-old boy who was suffering from diarrhea and a fever. We now know that he was infected with Ebola virus. After Ebola infected the boy, it went from him to his mother, who died, to his three-year-old sister, who died, and to their grandmother, who died, and then it left the village and began moving through the human population of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Ebola virus is one of a group of zoonotic viruses that can cause severe disease in humans. The virus is known as a “zoonotic” virus because it’s transmitted to humans from animals. With pressures from a growing global population, climate change, deforestation, urbanization and uneven economic growth, zoonotic diseases are only likely to increase. The current 2014 epidemic is caused by the Zaire strain of Ebola virus, which has a mortality of 50 to 90%. Ebola virus is of great public health importance because of its ability to spread to carers and healthcare workers, the often high case fatality rate (CFR), difficulties in its rapid recognition, and the lack of effective specific treatment. Ebola first appeared in 1976 in a village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire). Forty years ago, Ebola was just the name of a river. It was a small waterway of no particularly sinister character that flowed through northern Zaire, not far from the village hospital where the first known outbreak of a new viral disease had been centered. That river gave its name to the new virus, and now “Ebola” is a global byword for ugly death, misery, and fear of contagion. The always frightening and often contradictory messages – and rumors – prompt patients to avoid going to the hospital due to fear of isolation and lack of effective treatments. It becomes impossible to identify the cases, confirm diagnosis, protect and monitor contacts. Violent protests – with loss of life, involving sometimes the medical staff – have been reported in some outbreaks. The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity. Without seeing a single Ebola case, I am writing on Ebola as I felt that it is the most important topic that concerns the world as we move from 2014 into 2015.  

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Ebola the virus that scares even scientists: 

The figure above shows a researcher working with the Ebola virus while wearing a BSL-4 positive pressure suit to avoid infection. Everything entering or leaving the level 4 laboratory, even the air, is strictly controlled. When a level 4 agent is in the chambers, the air inside is kept at a slightly lower pressure, so a leak causes air to be sucked in rather than blown out. Any changes in pressure, for instance resulting from a pinprick in a rubber glove, cause an alarm to sound. A Russian scientist at a former Soviet biological weapons laboratory in Siberia has died in 2004 after accidentally sticking herself with a needle laced with ebola, the deadly virus for which there is no vaccine or treatment.  

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Abbreviations and synonyms:

EVD = Ebola virus disease = Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) = Ebola  

EBVO = Ebola virus

ZEBOV = Zaire ebola virus  

SEBOV = Sudan ebola virus

TEBOV = Tai Forest ebola virus

REBOV = Reston ebola virus

BEBOV = Bundibugyo ebola virus    

R0 = Ro =RO = R ‘naught’ = Basic reproduction number

GP = Glycoprotein present on the surface of ebola virus

PPE = Personal protective equipment = biohazard suit

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In this article, Ebola means EVD caused by ZEBOV unless specified otherwise.

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On September 18th 2014, the United Nations Security Council held its first-ever emergency meeting on a health crisis. A Liberian man named Jackson Naimah spoke to the Council via video link from Liberia. Jackson works for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and is a team leader in one of MSF’s Ebola treatment centers in Monrovia. He told the Council that he had lost a niece and a cousin to the virus – both of them nurses infected at work. He said that, as he was speaking to us, sick people were outside the gates of the MSF clinic, begging to be let in and treated. MSF had to turn them away, because they had no more beds. Jackson said, “I feel that the future of my country is hanging in the balance. If the international community does not stand up, we will be wiped out.”

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We all are familiar with the statistics of what Ebola has done to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. More than 10,000 people infected. More than 5,000 people killed, nearly 250 of them health professionals. More than 4,000 children orphaned. Governments of affected countries were initially in denial over the occurrence of the disease. Subsequently, they relinquished responsibility for the care of infected patients to overworked international non-governmental organisations and issued incoherent directives, such as the closure of markets and borders. The Ebola outbreak has now become so serious that health infrastructure is beginning to collapse and hospitals are closing. Without effective medical care patients are dying not only of Ebola but of malaria, diarrhoea, and other conditions. As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has spiraled out of control, affecting thousands of Liberians, Sierra Leonians, and Guineans, and threatening thousands more, the world’s reaction has been glacially, lethally slow. Only in the past few weeks have heads of state begun to take serious notice. There is no Ebola Vaccine because “the virus previously affected only poor African nations”, WHO chief Dr Margaret Chan says. She criticized drugs companies for turning their backs on markets that cannot pay.

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Introduction to Ebola:

Ebola typically strikes like the worst and most humiliating flu you could imagine. People get the sweats, along with body aches and pains. Then they start vomiting and having uncontrollable diarrhea. These symptoms can appear anywhere between 2 and 21 days after exposure to the virus. Sometimes, they go into shock. Sometimes, they bleed. In fatal cases, death comes fairly quickly — within a few days or a couple of weeks of getting sick. Survivors return to a normal life after a months-long recovery that can include periods of hair loss, sensory changes, weakness, fatigue, headaches, eye and liver inflammation.

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Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. There are five identified Ebola virus species, four of which are known to cause disease in humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus); Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus); and Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans. Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa. The natural reservoir host of Ebola virus remains unknown. However, on the basis of evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne and that bats are the most likely reservoir. Four of the five virus strains occur in an animal host native to Africa. Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is one of the most severe viral infections of humans. In outbreaks in central Africa caused by the Zaire species of ebolavirus (ZEBOV), the mortality rate among identified cases has reached 80–90%, while fatalities in epidemics caused by the Sudan species have been in the range of 50–60% (Bwaka et al., 1999; Sanchez et al., 2004). The natural reservoir of these agents has not been identified; humans are only accidental or “dead-end” hosts (Mahanty & Bray, 2004).  Ebola virus causes an acute infection. The infection lasts for about two weeks and then it is over. If the patient is lucky, he or she survives, but unfortunately, in many cases, the patients die. But unlike other viruses, including HIV, Ebola virus does not persist in the infected patient. In this aspect it behaves more like the influenza virus. You get ill and a couple of days later it is over—one way or another.

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What is a virus?

Viruses are particles of nucleic acids, either RNA or DNA, which are surrounded by proteins and sometimes additionally by lipid membranes. With few exemptions, viruses are very small, about 100 times smaller than bacteria. Most importantly, viruses have a parasitic life style and must infect living cells to reproduce. They hijack cellular machineries to amplify their genomes and produce their own proteins and membranes. Virus is alive yet dead, simple yet complex, mindless yet prophetic, seemingly able to anticipate our every move. For scientists who study the evolution and behavior of viruses, the Ebola pathogen is performing true to its vast, ancient and staggeringly diverse kind. By all evidence, researchers say, viruses have been parasitizing living cells since the first cells arose on earth nearly four billion years ago. Some researchers go so far as to suggest that viruses predate their hosts. That they essentially invented cells as a reliable and renewable resource they could then exploit for the sake of making new viral particles. Researchers are deeply impressed by the depth and breadth of the viral universe, or virome. Viruses have managed to infiltrate the cells of every life form known to science. They infect animals, plants, bacteria, slime mold, even larger viruses. As so-called obligate parasites entirely dependent on host cells to replicate their tiny genomes and fabricate their protein packages newborn viruses, or virions, must find their way to fresh hosts or they will quickly fall apart, especially when exposed to sun, air or salt. Viruses are masters at making their way from host to host and cell to cell, using every possible channel. Viruses are also notable for what they lack. They have no ribosomes, the cellular components that fabricate the proteins that do all the work of keeping cells alive. Instead, viruses carry instructions for co-opting the ribosomes of their host, and repurposing them to the job of churning out capsid and other viral proteins. Other host components are enlisted to help copy the instructions for building new viruses, in the form of DNA or RNA, and to install those concise nucleic texts in the newly constructed capsids. Viruses also work tirelessly to evade the immune system that seeks to destroy them. One of the deadliest features of the Ebola virus is its capacity to cripple the body’s first line of defense against a new pathogen, by blocking the release of interferon. That gives the virus a big advantage to grow and spread. Yet the real lethality of Ebola stems from a case of mistaken location, a zoonotic jump from wild animal to human being. The normal host for Ebola virus is the fruit bat, in which the virus replicates at a moderate pace without killing or noticeably sickening the bat. A perfect parasite is able to replicate and not kill its host. The Ebola virus is the perfect parasite for a bat.  

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The virus needs to replicate inside an infected cell. Like many other viruses, Ebola virus brings its own genome replication machinery into the cell. If we understand how this machinery works, we can identify targets for antiviral compounds that block viral replication. This approach has been used successfully for other viruses, such as herpes viruses and HIV.  Ebola virus infects specific cells of the immune system that are needed to fight the virus at an early stage of infection. In these cells, Ebola virus blocks antiviral pathways and reprograms the cells in a way that they are not able to respond to the infection effectively. On top of this, the infected cells are used as vessels to transport the virus to almost all organs of the body, where it infects additional cells. This leads to a so-called systemic infection with the devastating consequences for which Ebola virus infections are notorious. Therefore, our goal is to identify antiviral pathways that can be activated in Ebola virus–infected cells, which would lead to the destruction of the infected cells before the virus can spread further. For example, researchers have tested an antiviral drug that selectively induces a suicide program in virus-infected cells. They showed that it kills Ebola virus–infected cells without harming uninfected cells. If the infected cells are eliminated, the virus cannot spread through the body anymore.  

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The viral haemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) are caused by four types of ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus:

Although agents that cause viral hemorrhagic fever syndrome constitute a geographically diverse group of viruses, all of those identified to date are RNA viruses with a lipid envelope, all are considered zoonoses, all damage the microvasculature (resulting in increased vascular permeability), and all are members of one of the following 4 families:

•Filoviruses cause Ebola and Marburg.

•Arenaviruses cause Lassa fever, Argentine haemorrhagic fever (HF), Bolivian HF, Brazilian HF and Venezuelan HF.

•Bunyaviruses cause Korean HF (Hantavirus), Rift Valley fever (RVF) and Crimean-Congo HF (CCHF).

•Flaviviruses cause yellow fever and dengue fever.

They are all infectious and lead to a potentially fatal disease with fever, malaise, vomiting, mucosal and gastrointestinal bleeding, oedema, and hypotension. Many VHF viruses are virulent, and some are highly infectious (e.g., filoviruses and arenaviruses) with person-to-person transmission from direct contact with infected blood and bodily secretions. Effective therapies and prophylaxis are extremely limited for VHF; therefore, early detection and strict adherence to infection control measures are essential. Ebola virus is one of at least 30 known viruses capable of causing viral hemorrhagic fever syndrome.

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A New Virus Emerges:

In the summer of 1976, Ngoy Mushola, a doctor from Bumba, Zaire, traveled to Yambuku, a town on the shores of the Ebola river.  There, at a local hospital, Mushola recorded the first clinical description of a new disease that was killing almost all of the patients who contracted it. “The illness is characterized with a high temperature of about 39°C, hematemesis [the vomiting of blood], diarrhea with blood, abdominal pain, prostration with “heavy” articulations, and rapid evolution death after a mean of three days,” he wrote in his daily log. The illness, which was later named Ebola hemorrhagic fever after the nearby river, was successfully contained in Zaire over the course of a few months, but not before 318 people contracted the virus. Nearly 90 percent of the victims died within a few days of becoming infected. Hundreds of miles away, in Maridi and Nzara, two cities in the southern tip of Sudan, doctors were witnessing an outbreak, describing patients with high fevers, aches, nausea, bleeding, delirium, and what they termed a “mask-like” or “ghost-like” face. Two hundred and eighty-four were infected and over half died.  One of the main risk-factors associated with Ebola virus in the Sudan outbreak was caring for the sick. The disease was spread within hospitals, and many medical care personnel were infected. In several of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks that have followed, health care workers have been at risk, and there have been many documented cases of doctors and nurses contracting Ebola virus from the patients they were tending.  Scientists and laboratory personnel working with the live virus are also at risk, and a few months after the Sudan outbreak, a scientist working with the virus in England became infected after he accidentally stuck himself with an infected needle.

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Virulent and Rare:

The virus is intriguing because it acts so quickly. It kills people in two weeks or less.  As deadly as Ebola virus is, it has never sustained a large outbreak, probably due to its speed of action and how powerfully sick it makes people. Even as case-fatality can approach 90 percent, infected patients become bed-ridden while they are most infectious, and infection is spread only through direct contact with bodily fluids. Thus, patients are easily quarantined and outbreaks contained. Humans are the unlikely target. Humans are not the natural reservoir for Ebola virus, but merely incidental or accidental hosts.  Ebola and Lassa are both non-human viruses. They are persistent in animal populations in the wild, and remain in this animal “reservoir” population because they are not deadly enough to kill the infected animals—an evolutionary advantage for a virus to remain endemic in its host species population.

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Deadly features of Ebola:

•Its kill rate: In this particular outbreak of 2014, a running tabulation suggests that 54 percent of the infected die, though adjusted numbers suggest that the rate is much higher.

•Its exponential growth: At this point, the number of people infected is doubling approximately every three weeks.

•The gruesomeness with which it kills: by hijacking cells and migrating throughout the body to affect all organs, causing victims to bleed profusely.

•The ease with which it is transmitted: through contact with bodily fluids, including sweat, tears, saliva, blood, urine, vomitus, semen, etc., including objects that have come in contact with bodily fluids (such as bed sheets, clothing, and needles) and corpses.

•The threat of mutation: Prominent figures have expressed serious concerns that this disease will go airborne, and there are many other mechanisms through which mutation might make it much more transmissible.

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Ebola BSL 4 pathogen:

Because of its high mortality rate, EBOV is listed as a select agent, World Health Organization Risk Group 4 Pathogen (requiring Biosafety Level 4-equivalent containment), a U.S. National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Category A Priority Pathogen, U.S. CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Category A Bioterrorism Agent, and listed as a Biological Agent for Export Control by the Australia Group. Viruses are ranked on a biosafety level (BSL) scale from 1 – 4, with 4 being the most severe. Ebola is a BSL4 pathogen, for which there are no approved therapeutics or vaccines. The virus is transmitted from one individual to another through the exchange of bodily fluids and enters the body through exposed cuts or mucous membranes, such as an individual’s mouth or nose.

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Case definition and contact tracing:

Ebola virus disease (EVD; also Ebola hemorrhagic fever, or EHF), or simply Ebola, is a disease of humans and other primates caused by ebola viruses. Signs and symptoms typically start between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus as a fever, sore throat, muscle pain, and headaches. Then, vomiting, diarrhea and rash usually follow, along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys. At this time some people begin to bleed both internally and externally. Death rates can vary widely, with death occurring in about 50% of cases. This is often due to low blood pressure from fluid loss, and typically follows six to sixteen days after symptoms appear. Surveillance is also a problem. The case definition that was adopted was accurate in the epidemic setting, but it would be much less so in sporadic infections or at the beginning of an epidemic. The finding of copious amounts of Ebola virus antigen in skin opened the way to confirm cases by taking simple skin biopsies, which could be placed in formalin and analyzed later by immunohistochemistry. This obviates the need for cold chain or special precautions while processing or shipping infectious material. One could argue that Ebola diagnostics should be placed at many sites in the potentially endemic areas, but this may be unrealistic given the small number of expected cases and the economics.

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Case definition of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD):

Name Definition
Index case Very first case (probable or confirmed, see below) found to be the origin of the outbreak
Alert case Any person with sudden onset of high fever or sudden death or bleeding or bloody diarrhea or blood in urine
Suspect case (person under investigation) Any person, dead or alive, who present (or presented before the death):
(i) fever (>38.5°C or 101.5 °F) with additional symptoms (severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained hemorrhage) and (ii) epidemiologic risk factors within the past 21 days before the onset of symptoms (close contact with body fluids of a suspect or probable case of EVD, or direct handling of bush animals from disease-endemic areas)
Probable case Person with symptoms compatible with EVD, as evaluated by a clinician, or a dead person with an epidemiological link with a confirmed case
Contacts Person without suggestive symptom of the disease, but who has been in contact with a suspect or probable case of EVD (living in the same house, provided care during the illness, participated in the burial rites etc.). It should be important to assess the risk level.
If laboratory samples are obtained at an appropriate time during the illness, the previous notification categories should be reclassified as “laboratory-confirmed” cases and “not a case”
Confirmed case Case with positive laboratory response for either PCR or viral isolation or Ebola virus antigen or Ebola antibody
“Not a case” Person with no Ebola-specific detectable antibody or antigen

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Contacts of dead or sick animals:

Any person having been exposure to a sick or dead animal in at least one of the following ways:

- has had direct physical contact with the animal

- has had direct contact with the animal’s blood or body fluids

- has carved up the animal

- has eaten raw bush-meat

Provided that this exposure has taken place less than 21 days before the identification as a contact by surveillance teams

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Laboratory contacts:

Any person having been exposed to biological material in a laboratory in at least one of the following ways:

- has had direct contact with specimens collected from suspected Ebola patients

- has had direct contact with specimens collected from suspected Ebola animal cases

Provided that this exposure has taken place less than 21 days before the identification as a contact by surveillance teams

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The contact person should be followed for 21 days after exposure. If the contact person is asymptomatic for 21 days after exposure, he is released from follow-up.

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Contact tracing:

Contact tracing is considered important to contain an outbreak. It involves finding everyone who had close contact with infected individuals and watching for signs of illness for 21 days. If any of these contacts comes down with the disease, they should be isolated, tested and treated. Then the process is repeated by tracing the contacts’ contacts. Social mobilization and culturally appropriate health education efforts are critical to successful case identification and tracking of contacts.

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Why contact tracing so important for ebola:


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The table below shows risk associated with types of contact:

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Epidemiology, ecology and outbreak of ebola:   

Epidemiology of ebola:

The first cases of filovirus haemorrhagic fever were reported in 1967 in Germany and the former Yugoslavia, and the causative agent was identified as Marburg virus (named after the German city where it was first seen in researchers who caught it from imported non-human primates). Similar cases of haemorrhagic fever were described in 1976 from outbreaks in two neighbouring locations: first in southern Sudan and subsequently in northern Zaire, now Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). An unknown causative agent was isolated from patients in both outbreaks and named Ebola virus after a small river in northwestern DRC. These two epidemics were caused by two distinct species of Ebola virus, Sudan Ebola virus and Zaire Ebola virus, a fact not recognised until years later. The third African Ebola virus species, Côte d’Ivoire Ebola virus was discovered in 1994. The virus was isolated from an infected ethnologist who had worked in the Tai Forest reserve in Côte d’Ivoire and had done a necropsy on a chimpanzee. The animal came from a troop that had lost several members to an illness later identified as Ebola haemorrhagic fever. The latest discovery is Bundibugyo Ebola virus, the fourth African species of human-pathogenic Ebola virus found in equatorial Africa (approximate distribution 10° north and south of the equator). An additional Ebola virus species, Reston Ebola virus, is found in the Philippines. It was first described in 1989 and isolated from Cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) housed at a quarantine facility in Reston, VA, USA. These monkeys were imported from the Philippines; an unusually high mortality was noted in infected animals during quarantine, but simian haemorrhagic fever virus co-circulated in the animals. Subsequently, Reston Ebola virus has been found in the Philippines on several occasions with surprising reports documenting infections in pigs.

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Epidemiologic studies (including a specific search in the Kikwit epidemic) have failed to yield evidence for an important role of airborne particles in human disease. This lack of epidemiologic evidence is surprising and seems to conflict with the viruses’ classification as biosafety level 4 pathogens (which is based in large part on aerosol infectivity) and with formal laboratory assessments showing a high degree of aerosol infectivity for monkeys. Sick humans apparently do not usually generate sufficient amounts of infectious aerosols to pose a significant hazard to those around them. Although numerous die-offs have been reported among chimpanzees and gorillas (some even threatening the viability of these endangered species), these animals (like humans) appear to be sentinels for virus activity. Speculation about the true reservoirs has centered on bats, and preliminary evidence indicates that bats may indeed be the reservoirs of filoviruses. This evidence includes the detection of antibodies and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) products in bats, the epidemiologic findings in subterranean gold mines in Durba (DRC) where Marburg transmission has occurred, and reported associations of human antibody production with the handling of bats. Recent isolation of Marburg virus from Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) captured in Uganda in proximity to cases of human disease further supports bats as reservoirs, but the exact biologic relation and the natural cycle remain to be elucidated.

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Epidemiologic Investigations:

Health authorities have to gather data on possible transmission chains from hospital records and through interviews with patients in whom EBOV infection was suspected and their contacts, affected families, inhabitants of villages in which deaths occurred, attendants of funerals, public health authorities, and hospital staff members.

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Ecology of ebola:

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is thought to be a classic zoonosis with persistence of the Ebola virus in a reservoir species generally found in endemic areas. Apes, man, and perhaps other mammalian species that are susceptible to Ebola virus infection are regarded as end hosts and not as reservoir species. Although much effort has been made to identify the natural reservoirs with every large outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever, neither potential hosts nor arthropod vectors have been identified.  Rodents and bats have long been thought to be potential reservoir species. This idea was supported by experimental studies in African plants and animals that resulted in productive infection of African fruit and insectivorous bats with Zaire Ebola virus, but a firm link could not be established. The first evidence for the presence of Zaire Ebola virus in naturally infected fruit bats was documented by detection of viral RNA and antibodies in three tree-roosting species: Hypsignathus monstrosus, Epomops franqueti, and Myonycteris torquata. However, despite efforts, Zaire Ebola virus has not been successfully isolated from naturally infected animals. The identification and successful isolation of Marburg virus from the cave-dwelling fruit bat Rousettus aegyptiacus further lends support to the idea of bats as a reservoir species for filoviruses. This finding is reassuring since several of the Marburg virus outbreaks have been associated with caves or mines that are usually heavily infested by bats. Data for potential reservoirs for any of the other four Ebola virus species do not exist. Infections with Ebola virus are rare in equatorial Africa, although probably under-reported. Transmission from the reservoir species to man or other end hosts might therefore be an infrequent event, given the restricted distribution of or restricted contact with the reservoir species. However, bats are frequently encountered in equatorial Africa and hunted for food in many places. Therefore, Ebola virus might persist as an asymptomatic or subclinical infection in the reservoir species, with little or no transmission, and might be sporadically activated through an appropriate stimulus. The stimulus might be stress, co-infection, change in food sources, and pregnancy, as shown experimentally in vivo and in vitro. This hypothesis would explain the sporadic nature and periodicity of outbreaks of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Africa.

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Seasonal variation in mortality in chimpanzees of the Tai forest, Ivory Coast, and prevalence of specific antibodies against Zaire ebolavirus virus in febrile patients from East Africa suggests an influence of the climate in the occurrences of Ebola epidemics. Pinzon et al. found a close relationship between the onset of epidemics and particularly dry conditions at the end of the rainy season, leading to a change in the behavior of fruit-eating mammals, particularly sensitive to weather changes, resulting in the increase of virus circulation or human contamination. The seasons punctuate migration of bats, which could explain the emergence of epidemics.

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Mapping the zoonotic niche of Ebola virus disease in Africa: a 2014 study:

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a complex zoonosis that is highly virulent in humans. The largest recorded outbreak of EVD is ongoing in West Africa, outside of its previously reported and predicted niche. Authors assembled location data on all recorded zoonotic transmission to humans and Ebola virus infection in bats and primates (1976-2014). Using species distribution models, these occurrence data were paired with environmental covariates to predict a zoonotic transmission niche covering countries across Central and West Africa. Vegetation, elevation, temperature, evapotranspiration, and suspected reservoir bat distributions define this relationship. At-risk areas are inhabited by 22 million people; however, the rarity of human outbreaks emphasizes the very low probability of transmission to humans. Increasing population sizes and international connectivity by air since the first detection of EVD in 1976 suggest that the dynamics of human-to-human secondary transmission in contemporary outbreaks will be very different to those of the past.

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Ebola Outbreak 2014:

Epidemics usually begin with a single case acquired from an unknown reservoir in nature (bats are suspected) and spread mainly through close contact with sick persons or their body fluids, either at home or in the hospital.  Since 1976, there have only been about 20 known Ebola outbreaks. Until last year, the total impact of these outbreaks included 2,357 cases and 1,548 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They all occurred in isolated or remote areas of Africa, and Ebola never had a chance to go very far. And that’s what makes the 2014 outbreak so remarkable: the virus has spread to six countries in Africa plus America, and has already infected more than 13,000 people. It has killed nearly 5,000 people. That is more than six times the sum total of all previous outbreaks combined.

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A complex epidemic of Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV) has been affecting West Africa since approximately December 2013, with the first cases likely occurring in southern Guinea. The causative Ebola strain is closely related to a strain associated with past EBOV outbreaks in Central Africa and could have been circulating in West Africa for about a decade. However, the current epidemic was not identified until March 2014, which facilitated several transmission chains to progress essentially unchecked in the region and to cross porous borders with neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia and seed a limited outbreak in Nigeria via commercial airplane on 20 July 2014. The World Health Organization declared the Ebola epidemic in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 8 August 2014, with exponential dynamics characterizing the growth in the number of new cases in some areas. Economic and sociocultural factors together with the delay in identifying the outbreak in urban settings have hindered a timely and effective implementation of control efforts in the region.

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The Situation:

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The 2014 Ebola epidemic is centered in the area where Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea meet and has infected almost 14,000 victims since December 2013, killing about 5,000. More will die, given a fatality rate of 71 percent in this outbreak. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates actual cases are 2.5 times higher and are roughly doubling every month. The epidemic spread to Nigeria and Senegal, which successfully contained it. It reached Mali in late October. Early on, the disease was transmitted by victims who avoided hospitals because of stigma and fear, as well as by unsafe burial practices. As cases increased, efforts to control the epidemic were hampered by a shortage of trained workers at a time when humanitarian groups were dealing with many crises elsewhere. The U.S. responded by sending hundreds of military personnel to Liberia, which in October 2014 began to see a reduction in cases. Ebola jumps to humans through contact with secretions from animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas and bats. It spreads among humans the same way, with medical workers and family members the most at risk. A separate outbreak reported in late August has killed scores of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the first known instance of Ebola transmission outside Africa, medical workers in the U.S. and Spain were infected after caring for people who had contracted Ebola in Africa. Ebola patients infected in Africa have been treated in a number of other European countries.

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Ebola response roadmap – Situation Report- 3rd December 2014:  WHO:

A total of 17,145 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in five affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, and the United States of America) and three previously affected countries (Nigeria, Senegal and Spain) up to the end of 30 November. There have been 6070 reported deaths. Cases and deaths continue to be under-reported in this outbreak. 

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Some countries have encountered difficulties in their efforts to control the epidemic. In some areas, people have become suspicious of both the government and hospitals, some of which have been attacked by angry protesters who believe either that the disease is a hoax or that the hospitals are responsible for the disease. Many of the areas seriously affected by the outbreak are areas of extreme poverty with limited access to the soap and running water needed to help control the spread of disease.  Other factors include reliance on traditional medicine and cultural practices that involve physical contact with the deceased, especially death customs such as washing and kissing the body of the deceased. Some hospitals lack basic supplies and are understaffed, increasing the chance of staff catching the virus themselves. In August, the WHO reported that ten percent of the dead have been health care workers. By the end of August, the WHO reported that the loss of so many health workers was making it difficult for them to provide sufficient numbers of foreign medical staff. In September 2014, the WHO estimated that the countries’ capacity for treating EVD patients was insufficient by the equivalent of 2,122 beds. By the end of October many of the hospitals in the affected area had become dysfunctional or had been closed, leading some health experts to state that the inability to treat other medical needs may be causing “an additional death toll [that is] likely to exceed that of the outbreak itself”. By September 2014, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the largest NGO working in the affected countries, had grown increasingly critical of the international response. Speaking on 3 September, the president of MSF spoke out concerning the lack of assistance from the United Nations member countries saying, “Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it.” A United Nations spokesperson stated, “They could stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 6 to 9 months, but only if a ‘massive’ global response is implemented.” The Director-General of the WHO, Margaret Chan, called the outbreak “the largest, most complex and most severe we’ve ever seen” and said that it is “racing ahead of control efforts”. In a 26 September statement, the WHO said, “The Ebola epidemic ravaging parts of West Africa is the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times.”

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Ebola tip of the iceberg:

For every four cases of Ebola we know of, there might be six that we don’t:

While official estimates suggest there are already more than 13,000 cases of Ebola this year, the real number is likely much, much higher. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the actual number of Ebola cases is roughly 2.5 times higher than the reported figures — so for every four Ebola cases we know of, there could be six that we don’t. The CDC isn’t alone in this. “There is widespread under-reporting of new cases,” warns the World Health Organization. The WHO has continually said that even its current dire numbers don’t reflect the full reality. The estimated 13,000-plus Ebola cases in West Africa could just be the tip of the iceberg.

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Could Ebola become endemic worldwide?

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Global health agencies were too slow in responding to the Ebola crisis:

Ebola is a very preventable disease. We’ve had over 20 previous outbreaks and we managed to contain all of them. It could take months for a full response to get off the ground. But this time, the international response just wasn’t there. There was no mobilization. The World Health Organization didn’t call a public health emergency until August — five months after the first international spread [in March]. It took three months for health officials to identify Ebola as the cause of the epidemic, another five months to declare a public health emergency, and two more months to mount a humanitarian response. In reality, a full response could take several more months still to get off the ground. Part of the reason for the slow response can be attributed to budget cuts at the WHO that have left the agency understaffed and under-resourced. The WHO also now sees itself as a “technical agency,” providing analysis and data, and not as a first responder. But, as an editorial in the journal Nature pointed out: “If the WHO is not the first responder to an emergency such as this, then who is?” The International Health Regulations governing disease responses are also flawed and broken, leaving us unprepared for outbreaks. So this Ebola epidemic has served as a reminder of just how slow and poorly coordinated our global responses to outbreaks are, and this is a problem because any infectious diseases expert will tell you that the best way to stop an outbreak is to contain it early.

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Health is not free from politics, either. Sadly, the world only seemed to wake up to Ebola after two American missionaries got infected in Liberia. One of them, Dr. Kent Brantly, testified before the Senate in the US to make that point: “This unprecedented outbreak began nine months ago but received very little attention from the international community until the events of mid-July when my friend and colleague, Nancy Writebol, and I became infected.” He added: “The response, however, is still unacceptably out-of-step with the size and scope of the problem now before us.” “Ebola could establish itself as an endemic infection because of a highly inadequate and late global response.” The awakening came too late. Preeminent disease researchers, in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, wrote, “Ebola has reached the point where it could establish itself as an endemic infection because of a highly inadequate and late global response.” Still, the global health community is now moving aggressively. The director of the World Health Organization called this Ebola epidemic “the greatest peacetime challenge” the world has ever faced. President Barack Obama called the epidemic “not just a threat to regional security… [but] a potential threat to global security.” For this reason, the United States has sent more than 3,000 troops to fight Ebola and has now funded the largest international response in the history of the CDC. In October 2014, the Obama administration appointed Ron Klain it’s first-ever “Ebola Czar” to coordinate the response. In other desperate and unprecedented measures, the United Nations Security Council characterized the virus a threat to international peace and security, holding its second-ever disease-focused meeting and setting up a special UN mission to deal with the epidemic. The Security Council unanimously passed a resolution asking countries around the world to urgently send medical workers and supplies to stop the epidemic. If these measures fail, the world may be faced with something it has never seen before: endemic Ebola.

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Potential for large outbreaks of Ebola virus disease: a 2014 study:
Outbreaks of Ebola virus can cause substantial morbidity and mortality in affected regions. The largest outbreak of Ebola to date is currently underway with a total of 15,935 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) reported in six affected countries till 23 November 2014. To develop a better understanding of Ebola transmission dynamics, authors revisited data from the first known Ebola outbreak, which occurred in 1976 in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). By fitting a mathematical model to time series stratified by disease onset, outcome and source of infection, they were able to estimate several epidemiological quantities that have previously proved challenging to measure, including the contribution of hospital and community infection to transmission. They found evidence that transmission decreased considerably before the closure of the hospital, suggesting that the decline of the outbreak was most likely the result of changes in host behaviour. Their analysis suggests that the person-to-person reproduction number was 1.34 (95% CI: 0.92–2.11) in the early part of the outbreak. This has profound implications: it suggests that a large outbreak (involving thousands of cases) could have happened even without changing any epidemiological conditions. Authors estimated the probability of such a large outbreak (>1000 cases) to be around 3%. This means that given the same initial conditions, Ebola outbreaks would have been occasionally been large, just by chance. Moreover, a relatively high person-to-person transmission component (R0pp ≈ 1) implied that the 1976 epidemic would have been difficult to control via hospital-based infection control measures alone. If the reduction in community transmission had been smaller, or infection had been seeded into a number of different communities, the outbreak could have continued for some time. The results also suggest that changes in behaviour caused a significant reduction in both hospital-to-community and within-community transmission. Although Yambuku Mission hospital closed on the 30th September, they found that the reduction in transmission occurred well before this point, most likely from susceptible hosts having less contact with infected patients, and making fewer routine outpatient visits to the hospital (Breman et al., 1978). As well as contributing to transmission, infections from syringes also appeared to have a higher case fatality ratio (CFR) than person-to-person infections. This could have been the result of a larger viral inoculum during contact with a contaminated syringe.

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Is India prepared to keep Ebola out?

World Health Organisation’s (WHO) India office says it is holding regular meetings with the technical staff at the Union health ministry for developing “appropriate response measures”. It is also guiding the ministry on how to prevent and control the infection “at health facilities, train rapid response teams for laboratory testing, surveillance and emergency contingency planning”. Screening for the virus at the country’s 18 international airports has been stepped up. Scanners that can detect high body temperatures have been placed at the immigration counters.  A mandatory health card is distributed to all passengers who have either travelled to the four Ebola-affected countries, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria (now declared Ebola-free), or have transited through these countries during the past 21 days. Travelers are questioned about their contact, if any, in the last 21 days – the incubation period for the virus – with any Ebola patient and whether they worked or visited high-risk areas like hospitals. All flights carrying suspected cases are disinfected before the next batch of passengers is allowed to board. To date, around 22,000 passengers have been screened at airports across India. Of these, 55 were found to be high-risk (those with fever), seven were medium-risk (those with contact history) and 21,737 were low-risk (those who did not have symptoms or history of contact) passengers.  The health ministry says the suspected and high-risk cases have all tested negative. Over 1,000 passengers, mostly from Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, West Bengal and Delhi, have also been tracked by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP). High-risk passengers are taken in an ambulance to the designated quarantine facility through a dedicated route without entering the immigration area or mixing with other passengers. Medium-risk passengers have to share their contact details and are tracked actively for at least 21 days by IDSP. Low-risk passengers are provided another health card and advised to contact a helpline if any symptom appears. The immigration staff deputed for Ebola detection has been provided with protective gear. Like at IGI, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, a team of trained doctors appointed by the Airport Health Organisation is screening passengers at counters in the pre-immigration arrival area. “Doctors have been instructed to keep a look out for passengers suffering from flu,” says an airport health official. The airport does not have a laboratory, so blood samples of any suspected Ebola case are sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for testing. “The test result is ready in 24, at most 48, hours,” says a scientist at the Pune institute. “The virus shows in the blood once the symptoms appear,” he adds. The only other designated laboratory equipped to test for Ebola is the National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi. Now the Indian Council for Medical Research has shortlisted another 10 laboratories to test the virus. At the government’s 24-hour Ebola emergency helplines (011-23061469, 23063205 and 23061302), set up at the health ministry in Delhi, doctors from central government hospitals are on duty round the clock. “We have been getting calls from people wanting to discuss their travel history and risks attached,” says a doctor on duty.  Private hospitals too have been calling for details about Ebola symptoms and precautions to be taken. The control room has received about 800 calls since its inception on August 9. The standing instruction is to immediately direct suspected cases to RML Hospital.

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India quarantines man recovering from Ebola:

India has quarantined a man who was cured of Ebola in Liberia but continued to show traces of the virus in samples of his semen after arriving in the country. The Indian man carried with him documents from Liberia that stated he had been cured. It is not an Ebola case, he is an Ebola-treated patient who is negative in blood but whose body fluid is positive. He has no symptoms. Tests of his semen detected traces of the virus. He will be kept in quarantine until the virus is no longer present in his body. The Indian government has now asked those travelling to India from Ebola-affected countries to carry a certificate stating that there is no evidence of the deadly virus in their body fluids, after this person cured of the disease was found to be carrying the virus in his semen. Peter Piot, a former WHO official who was one of the discoverers of the virus, has in the past expressed concerns about the disease spreading to India. There are nearly 45,000 Indian nationals living in West Africa. Many experts say densely populated India is not adequately prepared to handle any spread of the highly infectious haemorrhagic fever among its 1.2 billion people. Government health services are overburdened and many people in rural areas struggle to get access to even basic health services. Hygiene standards are low, especially in smaller towns and villages, and defecating and urinating in the open are common. 

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Social and cultural aspects of ebola:

Socio-cultural factors:

Socio-cultural factors have not only contributed significantly to Ebola spread, but have also complicated the implementation of control interventions. Specifically, cultural practices involving touching the body of the deceased naturally (and greatly) contribute to the dissemination of the Ebola virus. In particular, the potential for transmission to neighboring and distant areas by exposed funeral attendants could facilitate the development of major epidemics. Moreover, the lack of prior experience or knowledge of the disease can lead communities to deny its existence and to associate illness with witchcraft or conspiracy theories presumably created by governments to gain control of populations or attract resources from the international community. For instance, during the ongoing epidemic in West Africa, a group of individuals looted equipment and potentially contaminated materials in an isolation facility in a quarantined neighborhood. Finally, the stigma carried by Ebola survivors and family members of Ebola victims could exacerbate disease spread. In particular, uninformed families tend to hide relatives and friends infected with Ebola to avoid being shunned by their own communities, which enhances transmission rates. The problem is compounded by the high case fatality ratio of EVD whereby misinformed communities tend to associate case isolation with a death sentence.

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Ebola is spread through close physical contact with infected people. This is a problem for many in the West African countries currently affected by the outbreak, as practices around religion and death involve close physical contact. Hugging is a normal part of religious worship in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and across the region the ritual preparation of bodies for burial involves washing, touching and kissing. Those with the highest status in society are often charged with washing and preparing the body. For a woman this can include braiding the hair, and for a man shaving the head. If a person has died from Ebola, their body will have a very high viral load. Bleeding is a usual symptom of the disease prior to death. Those who handle the body and come into contact with the blood or other body fluids are at greatest risk of catching the disease. MSF has been trying to make people aware of how their treatment of dead relatives might pose a risk to themselves. It is a very difficult message to get across. All previous outbreaks were much smaller and occurred in places where Ebola was already known – in Uganda and the DR Congo for example. In those places the education message about avoiding contact has had years to enter the collective consciousness. In West Africa, there simply has not been the time for the necessary cultural shift.

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In the case of Guinea, while the medical teams knew exactly what had to be done to help the population, the implementation of the response plan was hit by poor collaboration with communities. The teams were beaten up and NGOs couldn’t get to the villages to implement the protocols. The transmission of the Ebola virus is not understood as a biological phenomenon in rural parts of the country where traditional beliefs — in particular sorcery — have the upper hand over science. The low literacy level in Guinea — around 25 per cent — and the inadequacy of information channels further hinder the fight against the epidemic. At one point text messages spread a rumour that a Guinean researcher based in Senegal had developed a cure for Ebola based on hot chocolate, milk, sugar and onions. This was enough for these products to run out in various shops around the country, including in Conakry, the capital. We have reached a situation in which people don’t want to hear what they’re being told. In such a difficult situation, it is difficult to find a balance between the fears and resistance of local people and the need to bring the epidemic under control. For example, they have recommended that medical staff stop using the term ‘isolation centers’ to refer to the places where people infected with Ebola are gathered, and instead to use the more reassuring term ‘treatment centers’. At one point, the treatment centers became synonymous with death chambers. People refused to go there, saying that, once you entered, you wouldn’t come out again alive — a reference to the high mortality among victims of Ebola. A study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that overall 71 per cent of people who get Ebola do not survive it — and that figure only drops to 64 per cent among those who are hospitalised. In these societies, in which death is accompanied by a set of traditional rituals including the preparation of the corpse and the invocation of the spirits before burial, they don’t understand when we explain that they mustn’t touch the bodies of Ebola victims. From the point of view of their traditions, the corpse must be interrogated to discover the cause of death: whether the person died a natural death or died of ‘sorcery’. It is therefore necessary to touch the body. Yet given the virulence of the Ebola virus, the medical advice is to avoid touching the bodies of people who have died of the disease. We have to find a solution that enabled us to save what is essential: human lives. We have to find a balance, which was to allow the populations to at least see the body and to throw objects into the body bag before the burial. That, at least, would calm their feelings and enabled us to avoid serial contamination of the population. That’s how the principle of secure burials was accepted. 

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Poverty and illiteracy spread Ebola:

Ebola can be stopped. But it takes resources, and a functioning health-care system. The three countries hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic — Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia — all have very weak health systems and little money to spend on health care. That has constrained their ability to stop the epidemic. In most of West Africa, health spending amounts to less than $100 per person per year (in the United States, it’s about $8,000). Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have some of the worst maternal and child mortality rates on the planet — an indicator of a failing health system. Experts point out that scarce resources make it extremely difficult to contain the Ebola epidemic: “If you’re in a hospital in Sierra Leone or Guinea, it might not be unusual to say, ‘I need gloves to examine this patient,’ and have someone tell you, ‘We don’t have gloves in the hospital today,’ or ‘We’re out of clean needles,’ — all the sorts of things you need to protect against Ebola,” says Daniel Bausch, associate professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, who is working with the WHO on the outbreak. Bausch would walk into the hospital in the morning and find patients on the floor in pools of vomit, blood, and stool. They had fallen out of their beds during the night, and they were delirious. “What should happen is that a nursing staff or sanitation officer would come and decontaminate the area,” he said. “But when you don’t have that support, obviously it gets more dangerous.” Along with poverty and a health system too weak to combat the virus, illiteracy has contributed to the problem. Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have some of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Poor literacy has made it much harder for aid workers to mount a public-health information campaign and explain to people how they can stop the spread of Ebola. It also helped to fuel a rumor mill about supposed cures. For example, one persistent myth has been that hot water and salt can stop Ebola. 

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Stigmatization of Some Populations:

Several populations and countries are being stigmatized because of the presence of Ebola within their borders. For former residents of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone now living in the U.S., the fears of stigmatization are very real. Some groups and politicians are advocating that anyone from these countries, sick or not, should not be allowed to come into the U.S. This won’t work. These politicians are also saying that travel into these countries should be severely restricted, which means that aid workers, the U.S. military and medical personnel helping these citizens, cannot enter any of these countries.

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Survivors of Ebola face second ‘disease’ the stigma:

The doctor has beaten the odds and survived Ebola, but he still has one more problem: The stigma carried by the deadly disease. Even though he is completely healthy, people are afraid to come near him or to have anything to do with him. For example, the man was supposed to give an interview on Guinean radio to describe his triumphant tale. But the station would not allow him into the studio. “We’d prefer he speak by phone from downstairs,” the station’s director told a representative of Doctors Without Borders, while the survivor waited outside in a car. “I can’t take the risk of letting him enter our studio.”  For the lucky survivors, the stink of stigma lingers long after the virus has been purged from their bodies. “Thank God, I am cured. But now I have a new disease: the stigmatization that I am a victim of,” said the Guinean doctor, who spoke to The Associated Press but refused to give his name for fear of further problems the publicity would cause him and his family. “This disease (the stigma) is worse than the fever.” Several other people who survived the disease refused to tell their stories when contacted by the AP, either directly or through Doctors Without Borders. Sam Taylor, the Doctors Without Borders spokesman who had taken the doctor to the radio station, confirmed that the man had been infected and survived. The doctor believes he caught Ebola while caring for a friend and colleague who died in Conakry, Guinea’s capital. At the time, he said, he did not know that his friend had Ebola. Shortly after his friend’s death, the doctor got a headache and came down with an intractable fever. And then the vomiting and diarrhea began. “I should have died,” the doctor said, but he responded to care, which includes intensive hydration, and unlike most other Ebola patients, he lived. Surviving Ebola is a matter of staying alive long enough to have the chance to develop enough antibodies to fight off the virus. That’s because it’s typically the symptoms of Ebola — severe fever, hemorrhaging, dehydration, respiratory problems — that kills a patient. Even though he has been cleared of Ebola, the doctor says that people avoid him. “Now, everywhere in my neighborhood, all the looks bore into me like I’m the plague,” he said. People leave places when he shows up. No one will shake his hand or eat with him. His own brothers are accusing him of putting their family in danger.

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Ebola Deaths Hype:

The Ebola virus is extremely rare. Among the leading causes of death in Africa, it only accounts for a tiny fraction. People are much more likely to die from AIDS, respiratory infections, or diarrhea, as you can see below.

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Since 1976, Ebola has infected fewer than 5,000 people and killed fewer than 3,000. That’s in Africa, where over 1 billion people live. By contrast, poor, “boring” measles still kills 122,000 people every year and killed over 2 million a year in 1980, before widespread vaccination campaigns. According to the WHO, in 2012, malaria caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children. Also according to the WHO, since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic (which dates back almost as far as the discovery of the Ebola virus), HIV has infected over 75 million and killed 36 million, with approximately 35 million currently living with the infection. None of this means that we shouldn’t take Ebola seriously or that much larger outbreaks couldn’t happen. Nor does noting this difference minimize the deaths of people infected with the disease. We should note from these observations and others, however, that Ebola is unlikely to reach such numbers because it is simply not infectious enough and Ebola outbreaks tend to “burn themselves out” because, unlike HIV or measles (which are also transmissible human-to-human), Ebola virus disease is so rapidly fatal. The public fear of ebola, the latest outbreak of which has killed almost 6,500 people mostly in West Africa, far outweighs concern about other more deadly diseases, such as rabies which has killed 65,000 people in the last year, or emerging dangers like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). MERS is a disease in camels and when passed to humans spread quickly between them through the air, while ebola, which originated in bats, requires physical contact to move. Flu-like in nature, MERS has killed more than 190 people since it surfaced in Saudi Arabia two years ago.

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The majority of Ebola deaths may not be from Ebola in West Africa:

Of this epidemic, the World Bank said Ebola may deal a “potentially catastrophic blow” to the West African countries reeling with the virus. Businesses are shutting down, people aren’t working, and kids aren’t going to school. The epidemic has also led to widespread food insecurity. “The fertile fields of Lofa County, once Liberia’s breadbasket, are now fallow. In that county alone, nearly 170 farmers and their family members have died from Ebola,” the WHO director warned. “In some areas, hunger has become an even greater concern than the virus.” People are going to suffer and die more from other diseases as the already scarce health resources in the region go to Ebola. Speaking at the United Nations, Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières, said, “Mounting numbers are dying of other diseases, like malaria, because health systems have collapsed.” Jimmy Whitworth, the head of population health at Britain’s Wellcome Trust, told the Independent in an interview, “People aren’t going to hospitals or clinics because they’re frightened, there aren’t any medical or nursing staff available.” “West Africa will see much more suffering and many more deaths during childbirth and from malaria, tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS, enteric and respiratory illnesses, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mental health during and after the Ebola epidemic,” wrote disease researchers Jeremy Farrar, of the Wellcome Trust, and Peter Piot, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. So this virus has wreaked incalculable damage on not only the bodies of those infected, but on others who are not getting health care they need, and the health systems and economies of West Africa. Dr. Ezie Patrick, with the World Medical Association who is based in Abuja, Nigeria, focused on the simple and disquieting fact that Ebola has also taken the lives of health workers in places where the ratio of doctors per population is abysmally low. “Sadly Ebola is claiming the lives of the few doctors who have decided to work in these challenging health systems thereby worsening the dearth and also increasing the brain drain leading to far fewer doctors in the region.” The disaster could last longer than the epidemic itself. Before the Ebola outbreak, West African nations were seeing promising signs of economic growth. Sierra Leone, for example had the second highest real GDP growth rate in the world. Liberia was 11th in 2013. Now, there’s worry that Ebola will slam the brakes on that development. “A prolonged outbreak could undercut the growth that these countries were finally starting to experience, taking away the resources that would be necessary for improving the health and education systems,” says Jeremy Youde,  a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota Duluth. “These countries are generally not starting from a great position as it is, so they don’t have much of a cushion to absorb long-term economic losses. If the international economy turns away from West Africa and brands it as diseased, that could be very problematic.”   

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Why is containing Ebola proving difficult?

In West Africa, the man-made elements of conflict, confusion and culture have all combined to create a perfect-storm for Ebola. A growing population, decades of civil war, widespread government corruption, dysfunctional health system, a growing distrust in Western medicine and worsening conditions in West Africa contribute to a “perfect storm,” The scientist who first identified Ebola in 1976 gives direct and simple advice on how to contain this latest outbreak: “Soap, gloves, isolating patients, not reusing needles and quarantining the contacts of those who are ill – in theory it should be very easy to contain Ebola,” Dr Peter Piot told the BBC. In practice, this is a much tougher proposition. The main outbreak has emerged in war ravaged West Africa, where much of the health care infrastructure has been totally destroyed.  Poverty has combined with fear, ignorance and superstition, particularly in remote communities, where distrust of government is understandably high, and belief in witchcraft and sorcery is interwoven into everyday life. Testing for Ebola often requires multiple blood tests – which is difficult to conduct in areas where strong cultural beliefs prohibit collection of a “life force”.  In Liberia, some communities believe the outbreak is a hoax, and that health care workers have been sent to kill them. In one town, health care workers spraying chlorine – a cheap and effective counter to the spread of the disease – were attacked. In Guinea, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) doctors and medics were attacked by villagers who believed the clinical team had brought Ebola to their country. Governmental response has been heavy handed. Liberia’s president threatened to jail anyone sheltering or hiding suspected Ebola cases. An un-coordinated rush by the international community to assist can also complicate efforts, says African governance expert Kim Yi Dionne, especially when it appears that no one is in charge. Already involved in the Ebola response are the local ministries of health for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organisation, MSF, UNICEF and many other agencies.

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Etiology: The Ebola Virus:

Virologists have been using the names Marburg virus and Ebola virus for the type viruses of the genera Marburgvirus and Ebolavirus, respectively, for decades and have not accepted the novel names for these agents (Lake Victoria marburgvirus and Zaire ebolavirus) suggested in the 8th ICTV Report.

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Taxonomy of ebola virus:

Group: Group V [(-)ssRNA]

Order: Mononegavirales

Family: Filoviridae

Genus: Ebolavirus

Species: Zaire ebolavirus

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The family Filoviridae resides in the order Mononegavirales and contains the largest genome within the order. This family contains 2 genera: Ebolavirus (containing 5 species) and the antigenically distinct Marburgvirus (containing a single species). EVD in humans is caused by four of five viruses of the genus Ebolavirus. The four are Bundibugyo virus (BEBOV), Sudan virus (SEBOV), Taï Forest virus (TEBOV) and the Zaire Ebola virus (ZEBOV). ZEBOV is the most dangerous of the known EVD-causing viruses, and is responsible for the largest number of outbreaks. The fifth virus, Reston virus (REBOV), is not thought to cause disease in humans, but has caused disease in other primates. All five viruses are closely related to marburgviruses. In patients who have Ebola virus infection, exposure to the virus may be either primary (involving presence in an Ebolavirus -endemic area) or secondary (involving human-to-human or primate-to-human transmission). Physical findings depend on the stage of disease at the time of presentation.

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Is Ebola an RNA virus? And why is it considered a filovirus? What does that mean?

Yes, Ebola is an RNA virus. It belongs to the family of filoviruses. The family name was derived from the Latin word filum, which alludes to the thread-like appearance of the virions when viewed under an electron microscope. The family Filoviridae comprises two antigenically and genetically distinct genera: Marburgvirus and Ebolavirus. Ebola virus particles are rod-shaped and are surprisingly simply organized. The small viral RNA genome, which consists of only 19 thousand nucleotides—human genomes consist of billions of these nucleotides—is tightly associated with only seven proteins and encased in a membrane. One of the viral proteins sticks out of the membrane and can bind to receptors on the surface of cells. Binding to these receptors helps the virus enter the cell. Inside the cells, Ebola virus replicates itself. Then the new viral particles leave the cells and are ready to infect fresh cells. At some point, the infected cells get exhausted because they have to provide all the material needed to form the virus—and they die. However, Ebola virus–infected cells survive for a pretty long time, making it easy for the virus to spread throughout the body of the infected host.

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Phylogenetic tree of filoviruses:

Filoviridae, of which Ebola virus is a member, is a family of viruses that contain single, linear, negative-sense ssRNA genomes. Filoviruses have been divided into two genera: Ebola-like viruses with species Zaire, Sudan, Reston, Cote d’Ivoire and Bundibugyo; and Marburg-like viruses with the single species Marburg. All of these are responsible for hemorrhagic fevers in primates that are characterized by often fatal bleeding and coagulation abnormalities.

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Ebola is a filovirus, and filoviruses appear to have been around in some form for millions of years. The figure above shows phylogenetic tree comparing ebolaviruses and marburgviruses. Numbers indicate percent confidence of branches. Marburgvirus and Ebolavirus are seen to be two different genera. The genus Ebolavirus includes five distinct species. Note that the Yambuku and Kikwit Zaire viruses are virtually identical even though the epidemics for which they were responsible are separated by two decades and hundreds of kilometers. Virtually every virus sequenced from each of those two epidemics is identical over the part of the genome examined. This pattern is typical of that seen with single introductions followed by human-to-human passage via needle or close contact in an African hospital. In the Marburgvirus branch of the tree, there is one major clade with a slightly divergent group characterized by the Ravn 1987 Kenya isolate. All the viruses from the major Angola 2005 outbreak are represented by a single virus because the sequences in this human-to-human epidemic are virtually identical. However, in the outbreak occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1999 and resulting from multiple independent infections after cave entry, two viruses with slightly different phylogenies are represented within the major group, and there is even another virus within the Ravn subgroup. These sequences were selected from hundreds determined at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and elsewhere.

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Ebola virus genome:

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Ebolaviruses contain single-stranded, non-infectious RNA genomes. Ebolavirus genomes are approximately 19 kilobase pairs long and contain seven genes in the order 3′-UTR-NP-VP35-VP40-GP-VP30-VP24-L-5′-UTR. The genomes of the five different ebolaviruses differ in sequence and the number and location of gene overlaps. As all filoviruses, ebolavirions are filamentous particles that may appear in the shape of a shepherd’s crook, of a “U” or of a “6,” and they may be coiled, toroid or branched. In general, ebolavirions are 80 nanometers (nm) in width and may be as long as 14,000 nm (average 800 to 1000 nm). Their life cycle begins with a virion attaching to specific cell-surface receptors, followed by fusion of the virion envelope with cellular membranes and the concomitant release of the virus nucleocapsid into the cytosol. Ebolavirus’ structural glycoprotein (known as GP) is responsible for the virus’ ability to bind to and infect targeted cells. The viral RNA polymerase, encoded by the L gene, partially uncoats the nucleocapsid and transcribes the genes into positive-strand mRNAs, which are then translated into structural and nonstructural proteins. The most abundant protein produced is the nucleoprotein, whose concentration in the host cell determines when L switches from gene transcription to genome replication. Replication of the viral genome results in full-length, positive-strand antigenomes that are, in turn, transcribed into genome copies of negative-strand virus progeny. Newly synthesized structural proteins and genomes self-assemble and accumulate near the inside of the cell membrane. Virions bud off from the cell, gaining their envelopes from the cellular membrane from which they bud from. The mature progeny particles then infect other cells to repeat the cycle. The genetics of the Ebola virus are difficult to study because of EBOV’s virulent characteristics.

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Figure above shows a protein map of Ebola virus RNA. 

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Ebola is a lipid enveloped, filamentous, negative-sense virus with an RNA genome. The virus is transmitted from one individual to another through exchange of bodily fluids and enters through exposed cuts or mucous membranes (mouth, nose, etc.).

Lipid enveloped:

Lipid enveloped viruses contain a lipid bilayer coat (outer membrane of a cell) that protects their genome and helps them enter (infect) cells. The lipid bilayer of Ebola is composed of the same lipids as human cells and scientists believe this lipid coat may be extracted from lipid rafts of human cells as new virions “bud” or leave cells after intracellular expansion of the virus. Contained within the lipid bilayer of Ebola are virus proteins that help the virus infect new cells and contribute to its replication. All together, the lipid bilayer performs three functions, 1) to cloak the virus from the immune system because it closely resembles normal host cells, 2) to facilitate binding of virus to cells and entry in lipid-to-lipid interactions, and 3) to facilitate viral replication.

Negative-sense RNA:

Mammalian genetic code is DNA to RNA to protein. There are multiple forms of RNA synthesized by mammalian cells, and it is the messenger form of RNA, abbreviated as mRNA, that is translated into protein. Unlike mammals, some viruses (such as Ebola) use RNA rather than DNA as their genetic code. RNA viruses are further classified according to the “sense” or polarity of their RNA.  Positive-sense viral RNA is similar to mammalian mRNA and as a result can be immediately translated by the host cell after infection into viral protein. Negative-sense viral RNA is the mirror image of mRNA; consequently it must be converted to positive-sense RNA by an enzyme called RNA polymerase before translation into protein. As such purified RNA of a negative-sense virus is not infectious by itself and needs to be transcribed into positive-sense RNA to make viral protein that can be assembled into new, infectious virus particles. The Ebola genome encodes seven proteins named nucleoprotein, VP24, VP30, VP35, L protein, transmembrane glycoprotein and the matrix protein VP40.

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Inside each Ebola particle is a tube made of coiled proteins, which runs the length of the particle, like an inner sleeve. Within the inner sleeve of an Ebola particle, invisible even to a powerful microscope, is a strand of RNA, the molecule that contains the virus’s genetic code, or genome. The code is contained in nucleotide bases, or letters, of the RNA. These letters, ordered in their proper sequence, make up the complete set of instructions that enables the virus to make copies of itself. A sample of the Ebola now raging in West Africa has, by recent count, 18,959 letters of code in its genome; this is a small genome, by the measure of living things. Viruses like Ebola, which use RNA for their genetic code, are prone to making errors in the code as they multiply; these are called mutations. Right now, the virus’s code is changing. As Ebola enters a deepening relationship with the human species, the question of how it is mutating has significance for every person on earth.

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The genome consists of seven genes in the order 3′ leader, nucleoprotein, virion protein (VP) 35, VP40, glycoprotein, VP30, VP24, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (L)—5′ trailer. With the exception of the glycoprotein gene, all genes are monocistronic, encoding for one structural protein. The inner ribonucleoprotein complex of virion particles consists of the RNA genome encapsulated by the nucleoprotein, which associates with VP35, VP30, and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase to the functional transcriptase—replicase complex. The proteins of the ribonucleoprotein complex have additional functions such as the role of VP35, which is an interferon antagonist. VP40 serves as the matrix protein and mediates particle formation. VP24, another structural protein associated with the membrane, interferes with interferon signaling. The glycoprotein is the only transmembrane surface protein of the virus and forms trimeric spikes consisting of glycoprotein 1 and glycoprotein 2—two disulphide-linked furin-cleavage fragments. An important distinction of Ebola virus from other Mononegavirales is the production of a soluble glycoprotein, which is the primary product of the GP gene, and gets secreted to large quantities from infected cells.

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Ebola actually encodes two forms of its glycoprotein gene. The small, non-structural, dimeric soluble form (sGP) is transcribed directly from the viral mRNA and its function remains mostly unknown. This protein is not found in virus particles, but is instead secreted from infected cells into the blood. A second glycoprotein results from transcriptional editing of the glycoprotein origin of replication and encodes a trimeric, membrane-bound form. This envelope GP spike is expressed at the cell surface, and is incorporated into the virion to drive viral attachment and membrane fusion. It has also been shown as the crucial factor for Ebola virus pathogenicity. GP is actually post-translationally cleaved by the proprotein convertase furin to yield disulphide-linked GP1 and GP2 subunits. GP1 allows for attachment to host cells, while GP2 mediates fusion of viral and host membranes. This protein assembles as a trimer of heterodimers on the viral envelope, and ultimately undergoes an irreversible conformation change to merge the two membranes. The product of the third gene, VP40, is located beneath the viral envelope where it helps to maintain structural integrity. It has also been associated with late endosomes and likely mediates filovirus budding due to its ability to induce its own release from cells in the absence of all other viral proteins. The second matrix protein, VP24, has been shown to suppress interferon production. However, interferon interference may not be its only function. Other experiments have shown that this protein, along with VP35 and NP are sufficient to form nucleocapsid structures. Lastly, VP24 is necessary for the correct assembly of a functional nucleocapsid, as a lack of VP24 leads to reduced transcription/translation of VP30. The remaining structural proteins form the nucleocapsid, and are thus intimately associated with the viral genome. These are the nucleoprotein NP, the polymerase cofactor VP35, the viral-specific transcription activator VP30 and the viral RNA polymerase L. These nucleocapsid proteins have a dual function in the viral replication cycle: they are involved as structural components, but also catalyze replication and transcription of the genome. While NP, VP35 and L are sufficient for replication, transcription initiation will not proceed without VP30.

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There’s also evidence that the glycoprotein (GP) is what actually kills individual cells. Inserting the gene alone into cells that normally line blood vessels is enough to cause their deaths. Glycoprotein appears to kill cells by blocking their ability to put new proteins on their surface. This causes the cells to lose contact with their neighbors and die. (It also has the side effect of limiting cells’ ability to inform the immune system that they are infected.) Further studies suggest that this effect is level-dependent; moderate amounts of glycoprotein don’t cause cells much difficulty. It’s only the high levels that accumulate later in infections that can kill them. This ensures that high levels of virus are made before their host dies.

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Viral Replication:

Viruses are unique pathogens in that they use host cell machinery to make their viral proteins and assemble new virus particles, or virions. In other words, they carry their genetic blueprint with them but have the cell they infect do all production and assembly of new virions. Conceptually, they hijack cellular factories in order to replicate. In order for Ebola to infect and replicate it must be able to accomplish two things: it must enter a host cell and it must utilize host cell machinery to produce new virions that can then go on to infect the next individual. This is termed “productive infection.” In the absence of those two things Ebola infection does not spread and would be considered “abortive infection,” meaning the process ends because replication cannot occur.

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Filovirus Transcription:

During transcription, the RNA genome is transcribed into seven monocistronic mRNAs whose length is determined by highly conserved start and stop signals. These start signals are predicted to form stable stem-loop structures. Just as in other negative sense RNA viruses, the transcription process begins with the binding of the polymerase complex to a single binding site located within the leader region of the genome. The complex then slides along the RNA template and sequentially transcribes the individual genes in their 3’ to 5’ order. However, the polymerase is released from the template following mRNA formation, so reinitiation at downstream genes is attenuated. Thus, the first gene, NP, is transcribed at the highest levels, whereas the last gene, L, is transcribed at the lowest. VP30 is assumed to be a transcription activation factor that is essential for the viral life cycle. While the mechanism is not completely understood, it is suggested that this protein is involved in initiation because VP30-dependent transcription is regulated by RNA of the first transcription start signal. The first 23 nucleotides of this NP mRNA are involved in stem-loop structure formation which might interfere with the progression of transcription by physically hampering polymerase movement. However, the N-terminus of VP30 contains a Zn+2 binding Cys-His motif and is rich in basic amino acids, allowing it to directly interact with RNA. Therefore, the protein could either resolve or cover this secondary structure and allow transcription to proceed. Further research has also shown that VP30 is important in transcription reinitiation, and may bind stem-loops formed by the promoter of each Ebola virus gene. Interestingly, VP24 has also been shown to inhibit transcription and replication of the Ebola virus genome. While the exact mechanism has not yet been elucidated, it is possible that VP24 binds to NP and hampers the function of VP35, VP30 or L. This interference could be important in converting the viral genome from a transcription or replication competent form to one that is ready for virion assembly and egress.

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Disruption of Cell Adhesion:

Expression of Ebola GP in cultured cells causes a disruption in cell adhesion that results in a loss of cell-cell contacts, as well as a loss of attachment to the culture substrate. The effects of GP are caused by the mucin domain, a highly glycosylated region of GP1 composed of roughly 150 amino acids and containing numerous N- and O- linked glycosylation sites. While this loss of endothelial cell attachment is key for the characteristic hemorrhaging, only recently has a mechanism for the disturbance of cell adhesion been proposed. For years, staining by flow cytometry has associated Ebola infection with a reduction in membrane levels of β1 integrin, a receptor that mediates attachment with the extracellular matrix, as well as major histocompatibility complex 1 (MHC1), a molecule important in immune system recognition. While these effects were previously assumed to result from removal of surface proteins, Francica et al. propose that GP-mediated loss of surface protein recognition occurs via steric shielding of surface epitopes. Observations that this down regulation is relieved by enzymatic removal of carbohydrate modification suggest that the steric occlusion is mediated by N- and O-linked modification of GP. In fact, the O-linked glycosylation of the mucin domain may promote an extended conformation that allows this domain to serve as a 150 residue long flexible rod that can mask domains in the immediate vicinity. Inherent in this mechanism is the fact that GP must localize in close proximity to the affected proteins, possibly explaining the variety of cell receptors regulated by this viral protein. This mechanism also helps the virus in immune system avoidance. The ability of GP to mask MHC1 may be a strategy for avoiding CD8 T cell-mediated killing of Ebola infected cells.

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Ebola virus mutation:

Mutations are a way of life for an RNA virus and mutations come and go every time a genome replicates – it is likely that every single genome copy of an RNA virus has a mutation. The key is to determine whether these changes affect any of the biological properties of the virus, such as transmission, stability, or virulence. Recent advances in genomic technologies have been applied to the analysis of blood samples from those infected in the 2014 outbreak. A massively parallel viral sequencing of genetic material collected from 78 patients with confirmed Ebola virus disease, representing more than 70% of cases diagnosed in Sierra Leone from late May to mid-June, 2014 was carried out. This work provided near–real-time insights into the transmission dynamics and genetic evolution, shedding light on the origins of the virus causing the 2014 outbreak in West Africa, and whether the 2014 outbreak is still being fed by new contacts with its natural reservoir (no such evidence was found). Genomic surveillance elucidates Ebola virus origin and transmission during the 2014 outbreak and concludes that the current outbreak probably resulted from the spread of the virus from central Africa in the past decade. As is typical of RNA-coded viruses, the Ebola virus was found to mutate rapidly, both within a person during the progression of disease and in the reservoir among the local human population. The observed mutation rate of 2.0 x 10-3 substitutions per site per year is as fast as that of seasonal influenza. This is likely to represent rapid adaptation to human hosts as the virus is repeatedly passed from human to human (as opposed to usually being passed between fruit bats and only occasionally crossing over into humans), and may pose challenges for the development of a vaccine to the virus. The genetic study by Gire and his colleagues (five of whom were dead of Ebola by the time their study appeared) found 341 mutations as of late August, some of which are significant enough to change the virus’s functional identity. The higher the case count in West Africa goes, the more chances for further mutations, and therefore the greater possibility that the virus might adapt somehow to become more transmissible-perhaps by becoming less pathogenic, sickening or killing its victims more slowly and thereby leaving them more time to infect others. That’s why, the Gire group wrote, we need to stop this thing everywhere as soon as possible. Future spillovers of Ebola are bound to occur, but those freshly emerged strains of the virus, direct from the reservoir host, won’t contain any adaptive mutations that the West Africa strain is acquiring now. We need to terminate Ebola 2014 before the virus learns too much about us.

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Ebola 2014 is mutating as fast as Seasonal Flu: a 2014 study:

The current Ebola 2014 virus is mutating at a similar rate to seasonal flu (Influenza A).  This means the current Ebola outbreak has a very high intrinsic rate of viral mutation.  The bottom line is that the Ebola virus is changing rapidly, and in the intermediate to long term (3 months to 24 months), Ebola has the potential to evolve.  Authors cannot predict exactly what the Ebola virus will look like in 24 months.  There is an inherent stochastic randomness to viral evolution which makes predictions on future viral strains difficult, if not impossible.  One basic tenet they can rely on is this: Viruses tend to maximize their infectivity (basic reproduction number) within their biological constraints (Nowak, 2006). These evolutionary constraints can be extremely complex, and can include trade-offs between virulence and infectivity, conditions of superinfection, host population dynamics, and even outbreak control measures.

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Ebola Mutation Rate:

Analysis of the available research suggests that the Ebola 2014 virus is currently mutating at a rate 200% to 300% higher than historically observed (Gire, 2014).  Furthermore, the Ebola-2014 virus’s mutation rate of 2.0 x 10³ subs/site/year is nearly identical to Influenza A’s mutation rate of 1.8 x 10³ subs/site/year (Jenkins, 2002).  This means Ebola 2014 is mutating as fast as seasonal flu.

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Many recent Ebola viral mutations have been synonymous mutations, some have been in intergenic regions, while others are non-synonymous substitutions in protein-coding regions. All have unknown impact at the present time. Such questions should be the subject of future scientific research.  Until the Ebola outbreak is brought under control, the Ebola-2014 virus will continue to seed and adapt in its growing pool of West African human hosts. We need to consider that as the weeks and months go on, the rapidly-changing Ebola-2014 virus will undergo repeated export from the West African region to countries around the world. As new Ebola cases grow in West Africa and elsewhere, we are effectively conducting ‘serial passage’ experiments of Ebola-2014 through human hosts. The repeated passage of Ebola-2014 through humans is exerting selection pressure on the Ebola-2014 virus to adapt to our species (instead of fruit bats).  The introduction of Ebola-2014 into a large pool of West African human hosts (coupled with the complex dynamics of evolutionary selection pressure) may allow the Ebola-2014 virus to become more transmissible as the months go on, particularly in the absence of effective control interventions. 

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Authors chose to compare Ebola-2014 to Influenza A (Seasonal Flu) because Influenza is one of the fastest-mutating viruses (Jenkins, 2002).  Unlike chickenpox (VZV), which people usually only contract once per lifetime, Influenza can infect a single individual many times repeatedly over the years.  One of the reasons Influenza is able to re-infect humans each year is because the Influenza’s high mutation rate allows the virus to generate ‘escape mutants’.  Escape mutants are Influenza viruses which are no longer recognized by human immune systems.  Each winter presents us with a new mutated strain of the Influenza virus. Rapid mutation is beneficial to Influenza genetic fitness (in regards to antigenic regions), because it allows a ‘new’ Influenza virus to circulate year after year. The benefit of a high mutation rate in Ebola 2014 is different — the genetic changes in Ebola-2014 allow for rapid exploration of the entire fitness landscape in a brand new host — humans. We need to be aware that the Ebola-2014 virus is undergoing rapid adaptation. The high mutation rate we see in Ebola-2014 reflects its ability to rapidly explore the fitness landscape. The ability of Ebola to undergo rapid genome substitutions and SNPs, coupled with genetic recombination, will allow ‘survival of the fittest’ in Ebola-2014 genetic variants (on both the intra-host and inter-host levels). New Ebola sub-clades are created with each passing month (there are already four sub-clades as of August 2014). New Ebola genetic variants are created with each new infection, though most are selected against. Rapid adaptation emerges from the high intrinsic Ebola-2014 mutation rate, coupled with the virus’s ability to undergo RNA recombination during superinfection.

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Figure above shows acquisition of genetic variation of ebola-2014 virus over time. Fifty mutational events (short dashes) and 29 new viral lineages (long dashes) were observed.

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The diagram above suggests that as the Ebola-infected host pool grows, so does the number of unique Ebola viral lineages. This implies that Ebola acquires genetic diversity as it infects more people, particularly if the virus undergoes recombination during superinfection.  The growing number of new Ebola viral lineages will undergo natural selection for some ‘optimum’ balance of virulence, infectivity, tissue tropism, immune suppression, and other parameters which maximize the reproductive fitness of the Ebola virus in humans.  What that final virus might eventually look like 2 years from now is anyone’s guess.  But the explosion of genetic variation suggests that the Ebola virus will become more difficult to contain as time goes on, which is why early action is important. The idea that the Ebola-2014 Virus jumped species, but is now somehow ‘static’ or ‘frozen in time’ is a mistake. The Ebola-2014 virus is undergoing a period of rapid adaptation in human hosts, as evidenced by the Ebola RNA sequences deposited in Genbank, and other studies.  Hopefully, interventions (like contact tracing) will be able to stop Ebola-2014 before the virus optimizes its genotype.

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As more people become infected, a significant mutation arises that allows for a longer asymptomatic but infectious period, increasing the Ro. Globally, cases continue to double every 16 days, contact tracing infrastructure outside the West becomes saturated, and hospitals are overrun. By early-to-mid 2015, the global pools of Ebola-infected patients are in the millions, mainly centered in West Africa and Southeast Asia with multiple strains of varying virulence. A sudden change in the outbreak epidemiology caused by a recombinant Ebola strain causes confusion about how to respond. Efforts at developing treatments/vaccines become logistically complex and ineffective. The implication of the Ebola 2014 mutation rate is this:  A single Ebola mutation doesn’t necessarily mean the virus will become ‘airborne’, or that the virus has altered tissue tropism, or that the virus spreads more easily.   But a high intrinsic rate of Ebola mutation means that such changes may become possible in the future.  If the number of people infected grows into the hundreds of thousands, or even low millions, then the probability of a significant ‘constellation’ of accumulated Ebola mutations with phenotypic impact becomes more likely.  The problem is that accumulated Ebola mutations will scale with the size of the population infected.  Conversely, in a small population, such Ebola mutations are not likely to have a significant impact.  It’s a bit like the virus is buying lottery tickets… The more lottery tickets the Ebola virus ‘buys’, the more chances it has to ‘win’.

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Scientists use Mutations to track Ebola 2014 Origins:

In a new paper in Science, researchers reveal that they have sequenced the genomes of Ebola from 78 patients in Sierra Leone who contracted the disease in May and June. Those sequences revealed some 300 mutations specific to this outbreak. The new analysis could help determine if the virus’ behavior has changed — and provide information for future diagnostic tests and treatments. Among their findings, the researchers discovered that the current viral strains come from a related strain that left Central Africa within the past ten years. And the research confirms that the virus likely spread into Sierra Leone when women became infected after attending the funeral of a traditional healer who had been treating Guinean Ebola patients. 

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An expert scientist from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) has publicly warned that the Ebola strain currently in circulation appears to be far more virulent and infectious than previous strains. Dr. Peter Jahrling has been on the ground in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, studying the disease with a team of researchers, which is also helping to care for and treat patients. He says the viral loads that his team is witnessing exceed what has been observed during previous outbreaks, suggesting that, this time, the disease is far more deadly. Echoing the warnings given by others, Dr. Jahrling believes that this strain of Ebola is not only more deadly than other strains but also mutating at an alarming rate. More of the virus is infecting patients, and it appears to be advancing and spreading more rapidly than usual. “We are using tests now that weren’t [used] in the past, but there seems to be a belief that the virus load is higher in these patients [today] than what we have seen before,” stated Dr. Jahrling to Vox. “If true, that’s a very different bug.” 

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Filoviruses are ancient and integrated into mammalian genomes: a 2010 study:

Integrated elements of filoviruses could indicate a coevolutionary history with a mammalian reservoir, but integration of nonretroviral RNA viruses is thought to be nonexistent or rare for mammalian viruses (such as filoviruses) that lack reverse transcriptase and replication inside the nucleus. Here, authors provide direct evidence of integrated filovirus-like elements in mammalian genomes by sequencing across host-virus gene boundaries and carrying out phylogenetic analyses. Further they test for an association between candidate reservoir status and the integration of filoviral elements and assess the previous age estimate for filoviruses of less than 10,000 years. In 19 of the tested vertebrate species, authors discovered as many as 80 high-confidence examples of genomic DNA sequences that appear to be derived, as long ago as 40 million years, from ancestral members of 4 currently circulating virus families with single strand RNA genomes. Surprisingly, almost all of the sequences are related to only two families in the Order Mononegavirales: the Bornaviruses and the Filoviruses, which cause lethal neurological disease and hemorrhagic fevers, respectively. Phylogenetic and sequencing evidence from gene boundaries was consistent with integration of filoviruses in mammalian genomes. Authors detected integrated filovirus-like elements in the genomes of bats, rodents, shrews, tenrecs and marsupials. Moreover, some filovirus-like elements were transcribed and the detected mammalian elements were homologous to a fragment of the filovirus genome whose expression is known to interfere with the assembly of Ebolavirus. The phylogenetic evidence strongly indicated that the direction of transfer was from virus to mammal. Eutherians other than bats, rodents, and insectivores (i.e., the candidate reservoir taxa for filoviruses) were significantly underrepresented in the taxa with detected integrated filovirus-like elements. The existence of orthologous filovirus-like elements shared among mammalian genera whose divergence dates have been estimated suggests that filoviruses are at least tens of millions of years old. Author’s findings indicate that filovirus infections have been recorded as paleoviral elements in the genomes of small mammals despite extranuclear replication and a requirement for cooption of reverse transcriptase. Author’s results show that the mammal-filovirus association is ancient and has resulted in candidates for functional gene products (RNA or protein).

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Ancient ebola virus: a 2014 study:

A new study is helping to rewrite Ebola’s family history. It shows that Ebola and Marburg are each members of ancient evolutionary lines, and that these two viruses last shared a common ancestor sometime prior to 16-23 million years ago. The research shows that filoviruses — a family to which Ebola and its similarly lethal relative, Marburg, belong — are at least 16-23 million years old. According to the PeerJ article, knowing more about Ebola and Marburg’s comparative evolution could “affect design of vaccines and programs that identify emerging pathogens.” The research does not address the age of the modern-day Ebolavirus. Instead, it shows that Ebola and Marburg are each members of ancient evolutionary lines, and that these two viruses last shared a common ancestor sometime prior to 16-23 million years ago. The new study builds on the study depicted in previous paragraph, which used viral fossil genes to estimate that the entire family of filoviruses was more than 10 million years old. However, those studies used fossil genes only distantly related to Ebola and Marburg, which prevented the researchers from drawing conclusions about the age of these two viral lines. The current PeerJ publication fills this viral “fossil gap,” enabling the scientists to explore Ebola’s historical relationship with Marburg. 

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The Filoviridae Journey:

 After transmission to a new host, the virus enters a cell through a mechanism that has yet to be determined. Once inside the host cell’s cytoplasm, the filovirus uncoats itself and releases transcriptase (polymerase), which is contained in the virion. Transcriptase transcribes the viral -ssRNA into the complimentary +ssRNA. This positive, single stranded RNA will then be used as the template for the new viral genomes. Soon after the infection, the cell develops cytoplasmic inclusion bodies that contain the highly structured viral nucleocapsid (the nucleocapsid contains the genome and can sometimes have other proteins in it as well). After the nucleocapsid has been formed, the new virus will self-assemble and bud from the cell membrane stealing some of the membrane for its envelope. Not very much is known about the pathogenesis of filoviruses. But we do know that Ebola attacks cells important to the function of lymphatic tissues. It can be found in fibroblastic reticular cells (FRC) among the loose connective tissue under the skin and in the FRC conduit (FRCC) in lymph nodes. This allows the virus to rapidly enter the blood and leads to disruption of lymphocyte homing at high endothelial venules (HEV). Ebola virus seems to be most active in infecting fibroblasts of any type (especially fibroblastic reticular cells). The next most frequent cell types are mononuclear phagocytes with dendritic cells more affected than monocytes or macrophages. Endothelial cells become infected after the connective tissue surrounding them is fully involved. Then, almost as a final insult, epithelial cells of any type are infected.  In general, epithelial cells become infected only if they contact other cells that amplify the virus such as fibroblastic reticular cells (FRC) and mononuclear cells. This would be true for skin appendages like hair follicles and sweat glands because they are heavily vascularized and have a lot of FRC networks associated with them. Liver cells and adrenal gland epithelial cells have fibroblastic reticulum as their main connective tissue and both have resident mononuclear cell phagocytes hanging on FRC cells near the blood/epithelial cell interface.

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Route of infection:

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The figure below shows modes of viral entry:

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Ebola virus seems to enter the host through mucosal surfaces, breaks, and abrasions in the skin, or by parenteral introduction. Most human infections in outbreaks seem to occur by direct contact with infected patients or cadavers. Infectious virus particles or viral RNA have been detected in semen, genital secretions, and in skin of infected patients; they have also been isolated from skin, body fluids, and nasal secretions of experimentally infected non-human primates.

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Laboratory exposure through needle stick and blood has been reported.  Reuse of contaminated needles played an important part in the 1976 outbreaks of Ebola virus in Sudan and Zaire. Butchering of a chimpanzee for food was linked to outbreaks of Zaire Ebola virus in Gabon, and contact exposure was the probable route of transmission. Although proper cooking of foods should inactivate infectious Ebola virus, ingestion of contaminated food cannot wholly be ruled out as a possible route of exposure in natural infections. Notably, handling and consumption of freshly killed bats was associated with an outbreak of Zaire Ebola virus in DRC. Organ infectivity titers in non-human primates infected with Ebola virus are frequently in the range of 107 to 108 pfu/g; thus, exposure through the oral route could invariably be associated with very high infectious doses. In fact, Zaire Ebola virus is highly lethal when given orally to rhesus macaques. The role of aerosol transmission in outbreaks is unknown, but is thought to be rare. In human beings, the route of infection seems to affect the disease course and outcome. The mean incubation period for cases of Zaire Ebola virus infection known to be due to injection is 6·3 days, versus 9·5 days for contact exposures. Moreover, the case-fatality rate in the 1976 outbreak of Zaire Ebola virus was 100% (85 of 85) in cases associated with injection compared with about 80% (119 of 149) in cases of known contact exposure. For non-human primates infected with Zaire Ebola virus, the disease course seems to progress faster in animals exposed by intramuscular or intraperitoneal injection than in animals exposed by aerosol droplets.

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Virus entry: Macropinocytosis (a type of endocytosis):

As the first step of the viral life cycle, entry into the host cell is a popular drug target as infection could be stopped before replication disrupts cell function. However, the entry mechanism of Ebola virus is poorly understood. Endocytosis offers an efficient way for viruses to cross the significant physical barrier imposed by the plasma membrane and to traverse the underlying cortical matrix. Viruses have also evolved to target distinct endocytic pathways that are capable of delivering the capsid into the cell cytoplasm at sites suitable to initiate replication and to avoid destructive compartments like the lysosome. Understanding the pathway of virus entry and deciphering the mechanism regulating it is important for understanding viral pathogenesis as virus entry into host cell is the first critical step in pathogenesis of infection. While there is ample evidence that ZEBOV enters cells through endocytosis in a pH-dependent manner, the specific endocytic and trafficking pathways have not been clearly defined. Many enveloped viruses, Ebola virus included, rely upon endocytosis to infect cells. Several distinct endocytic mechanisms exist in mammalian cells, and can be distinguished by the type of cargo they carry as well as the proteins involved in their regulation. However, all mechanisms ultimately transport virions through successive endocytic vesicles until a compartment with adequate conditions, low pH in the case of Ebola, is reached. Upon membrane fusion, the capsid moves into the cell cytoplasm at a site where replication proceeds optimally. Recently experiments have been performed with wild-type Ebola virus Zaire that demonstrates that cellular entry involves uptake by a macropinocytosis-like mechanism. Macropinocytosis is one of the path that has already been shown to be important for the uptake of vaccinia virus. This mechanism is associated with outward extensions of the plasma membrane formed by actin polymerization. These so called membrane ruffles can fold back upon themselves and form a macropinosome upon fusion of the distal loop ends. The involvement of macropinocytosis was tested through the use of EIPA (5-(N-ethyl-N-isopropyl amiloride), a potent and specific inhibitor of Na+/H+ exchanger activity important for macropinosome formation. They discovered a dose-dependent inhibition of gfpZEBOV infection as well as severe inhibition of ZEBO-VLP entry in the presence of this amiloride. Further experiments determined that Ebola virions colocalize with internalized dextran, a complex polysaccharide taken in by macropinocytosis, and requires the activity of p53-activated kinase 1, another hallmark of this entry pathway. Lastly, it was noted that gfpZEBO-VLPs were associated with Arp2 and vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP), two actin-associated proteins that promote actin assembly. This also points towards macropinocytosis, since actin is required for the formation of plasma membrane ruffles as well as vesicle trafficking. All of these findings points towards a macropinocytosis-like pathway as the primary internalization method of Ebola. Authors also indicate a role of actin in viral entry and suggest that the virus can actively promote localized actin remodeling through its interaction with Arp2 and VASP. The mechanism by which the virus causes macropinocytosis is not understood, but most likely involves the interaction of GP with cell surface receptors. The receptor tyrosine kinase Ax1 and integrin βI have been implicated as viral receptors, with evidence that several other receptor tyrosine kinases and integrins can trigger macropinocytosis.

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Virus entry needs two host proteins: NPC1 and TIM-1:

There are two candidates for host cell entry proteins. The first is a cholesterol transporter protein, the host-encoded Niemann–Pick C1 (NPC1), which appears to be essential for entry of Ebola virions into the host cell and for its ultimate replication. In one study, mice with one copy of the NPC1 gene removed showed an 80 percent survival rate fifteen days after exposure to mouse-adapted Ebola virus, while only 10 percent of unmodified mice survived this long. In another study, small molecules were shown to inhibit Ebola virus infection by preventing viral envelope glycoprotein (GP) from binding to NPC1. Hence, NPC1 was shown to be critical to entry of this filovirus, because it mediates infection by binding directly to viral GP. When cells from Niemann Pick Type C patients lacking this transporter were exposed to Ebola virus in the laboratory, the cells survived and appeared impervious to the virus, further indicating that Ebola relies on NPC1 to enter cells; mutations in the NPC1 gene in humans were conjectured as a possible mode to make some individuals resistant to this deadly viral disease. The same studies described similar results regarding NPC1′s role in virus entry for Marburg virus, a related filovirus.  A further study has also presented evidence that NPC1 is critical receptor mediating Ebola infection via its direct binding to the viral GP, and that it is the second “lysosomal” domain of NPC1 that mediates this binding.

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People whose cells lack or don’t have properly functioning NPC1 protein get NPC disease. There are several research groups looking for compounds that can block the protein on the Ebola virus from coming into contact with NPC1 protein. These drugs ultimately could be used as a means to prevent people from getting infected or for making an infection less severe. Parents of children with NPC disease are supporting research into the Ebola-NPC connection. Researchers want to know if Ebola survivors also have mutations on one copy of their