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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Introduction to PDA

PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)

PDA, known as personal digital assistant broad wide is a mobile device that provides a lot of personal organizers function such as calendar, appointment book, address book, calculator, and notepad. PDA can be used as is a
handheld computer, also known as small or palmtop computers…
Modern PDAs also have both color screens and audio capabilities, allowing the user to use it as a mobile phone too. PDAs are used to save information that can be accessed at any time and anyplace. PDAs also offer other application such as Real One Player – a media software that is use to run songs and movies, not only that, PDA has a touch screen for users to enter data, a memory card slot for data storage and it have IrDA-(known as Infrared Ray), Bluetooth and/or WiFi. However, many PDAs may not have a touch screen, so the user will opt to use alphanumerical keypad, a directional pad and either the scroll keypad or a thumb keyboard for entering the input purposes. Connected PDAs also characteristically include E-mail and Web support
Most modern PDAs have the following features as a minimum:-

! Colour screen

! Stylus pen

! Standard software: calendar, address book, notepad and more

! Sound

! Large memory (no less than 16MB) and the memory can also be expanded by using external memory-memory cards as PDAs provide memory card slots.

! Wireless link (IrDA, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi)

! PC link

! Enormous range of software that can be installed to the PDA.

Text input is usually done in one of four ways:-

Virtual keyboard – when the keyboard is shown on the screen, which is the touch screen. The entering of data can be done by tapping letters or numerical character on the screen.
External keyboard – this keyboard can be connected via USB port or via Bluetooth
Word or letter recognition- when letters or words are written on the screen, the system will try to identify the letters or words written and will then be activating the texts or words thru text field.
Stroke recognition-a clear set of strokes represents the various letters needed. The user will learn how to draw these strokes on the screen. The strokes are often the simplified character shapes to make them easier to remember.
Nowadays Blackberry and Treo-(both are the PDA brand) have full keyboard and scroll wheels to smooth the progress of data entry and navigation. Meanwhile, Apple i phone and i touch uses a different kind of input by including a new user’s interface and a technology called Multi Touch. These days PDA is equip with a memory card slot unlike the PDA in the good old days. The memory card slot is used to slot in either SD (Secure Digital) or a Compact flash card. The card is used to store any information or data that is saved by the user when the PDA internal memory is full. Most of the PDAs nowadays have Bluetooth wireless connectivity; Bluetooth is popular in these days for PDA and other mobile devices. It can be used to connect keyboards, headsets, GPS and many other accessories, as well as sending files between PDAs and other mobile devices that is bluetooth enabled too.Many mid-range and superior PDAs have Wi-Fi/WLAN/802.11-connectivity, used for connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots or wireless networks. Older PDAs predominantly have an IrDA (infrared) port; however the modern models of PDA seldom have the technology, as it is slowly being phased out for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. PDA has a important function which is called the synchronization. Most PDAs come with the ability to synchronize to a PC. This is done through the synchronization software provided with the handheld, such as HotSync Manager, which comes with Palm OS handhelds, Microsoft ActiveSync for older versions of Windows or Windows Mobile Device Center on Windows Vista, which comes with Windows Mobile handhelds. The synchronizing function that is done from the software also prevents the loss of information stored on the device in case it is lost, stolen, or destroyed. Another benefit gain from this function is that data input is usually a lot quicker on a PC, since text input via a touch screen is still not quite favorable. Transferring data to a PDA via the computer is therefore a lot quicker than having to manually input all data on the handheld device. PDAs are also used during educations, sports, automobile navigation and for the people with disabilities and more.
PDA is used during education as a vital tool as mobile technology has become very common; it is no astonishment that personal computing has become a very important learning tool by this time. Educational institutes have commenced a trend of integrating PDAs into their teaching practices which is also known as mobile learning. With the capabilities of PDAs, teachers are now able to provide a joint and learning experience and knowledge for their students. PDAs and handheld devices are recently allowed by certain educational institutions for digital note- taking and sometimes the notes are sent to their PDA. By allowing students to have this kind of note taking, this has increased the students’ capability by allowing individuals to have spell check, amend and modify their
notes or is best known as e notes. Educators are currently able to distribute course material through the use of the internet connectivity or thru Bluetooth file sharing function from the PDA, not only the educators are doing it, nowadays, textbook publishers have launch and begun to release e- books which can be directly uploaded to the PDA. This has lessen the burden of students that is used to carrying heavy books around and this method helps to reduce the sawing of trees, which means less trees are been sawed down as less papers are being used now to produce books. Simple programs such as dictionaries, thesaurus and word processing software are downloaded to the PDA to ease the students from bring any heavy dictionaries and reference books.
PDAs are also used in the form of sports as glider pilots-(light aircraft designed to fly without the engine) pilots As PDAs is used for pre- flight preparation and to help out on the assisting of the navigation as the PDAs are GPS-(Global Positioning System) enabled to generate map displays that shows the tracks to the turn points, airspace hazards and etc. PDAs is also used by sportsman or athletes with some music enthusiasm as they can play songs while doing their favourite workouts and activities. PDAs can be used by road rally enthusiasts for calculating distance, speed, time, and GPS direction-finding as well as solo navigation.
PDAs help and give assistance for those drivers that don’t recognize the route to a place as PDA is equipped with GPS( Global Positioning System), it can be used to view the traffic condition, the easiest and fastest way to reach a destination by showing the users the road conditions using 2D or 3D displays. PDAs offer partial degrees of accessibility for people with differing abilities, based on the particular device and service. People with vision, hearing, mobility, and speech impairments may be able to use PDAs on a limited basis, and this may be enhanced by the addition of accessibility software (e.g. speech recognition).
Many PDAs run using different type and variation of architecture, although most PDAs are usually use the symbol by the Intel Xscale trademark; it is usually surrounded by some of RISC microprocessors that are widely used by PDAs and other mobile devices.

The currently major PDA operating systems are:-

! Palm OS - owned by PalmSource

! Windows Mobile Professional and Classic for use on Pocket PCs, (based on the Windows CE kernel) - owned by Microsoft

! iPhone OS - owned by Apple Inc.

! Many operating systems based on the Linux kernel - free (not owned by any company) These include

Familiar (comes in three types: GPE, Opie and barebone)

Ångström, a descendent of OpenZaurus

Intimate (for PDAs with an exceedingly large amount of memory)

! Symbian OS (formerly EPOC) owned by Motorola, Panasonic, Nokia, Samsung, Siemens and Sony Ericsson……………

There are some popular brands for PDAs which is the Blackberry, HP iPAQ, i Pod touch, i phone,dopod, Htc and more.

The benefits and drawback of the device to the user…

Benefits of PDA to the user…

! PDAs can be used anytime and anywhere.

* Ease the burden of students as they can now bring fewer books.

* They can have their notes in the electronic form thus they can also have their spelling check, notes amended, and lots of things done including homework on their PDAs.

* They can share their e notes with their friends with just a click- meaning sending notes thru file sharing functions and / or with Bluetooth.

* They can send push e mail to their educators and friends about their notes.

* They can use the GPS function available in their PDA to search for the fastest and easiest ways to a destination

* It is used to store contacts and information for those who has lots of friends, clients and colleagues contact numbers. This will help them build a larger scale of communication with others

* They can use the PDA as their MP3 player too, but with a twist that they don’t need their MP3 player, they just need their PDA as PDA is equipped with Real One Player for the users to plays song and watch movies too.

Drawback of PDA to the user...

* Users (students) tend to rely on the dictionary and self check function to correct their grammatical mistake for their homework.

* Students use PDA to send and share answers during exam and chatting and gossiping with others while having exam.

* Users rely too much on the GPS function available on their PDA and can’t even memorize or remember the route to go from one destination to the other.

The Evolution of Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

A personal digital assistant (PDA) is a handheld computer which is also known as small or palmtop computer. Newer PDAs nowadays have both colour screen and audio capabilities, enabling them to be used as mobile phone (smartphone), web browser or even portable media player. Most PDAs have access to the Internet, intranet or extranet via Wi-Fi or Wireless Wide-Area Networks (WWANs). Besides that, most PDAs also apply the touch screen technology.
PDA is created evolving from the innovation from mobile devices with computer technology to provide convenience to the users. Hence, it is actually a mobile phone with added computer enabled functions. Therefore, the history of PDA is actually similar with the history of the creation of mobile phone. In December 1947, Douglas H. Ring and W. Rae Young, Bell Labs engineers, proposed hexagonal cells for mobile phones. Philip T. Porter, also of Bell Labs, proposed that the cell towers be at the corners of the hexagons rather than the centers and have directional antennas that would transmit or receive in 3 directions into 3 adjacent hexagon cells. The technology did not exist then and the frequencies had not yet been allocated. Cellular technology was undeveloped until the 1960s, when Richard H. Frenkiel and Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs developed the electronics. One of the first truly successful public commercial mobile phone networks was the ARP network in Finland, launched in 1971. However, ARP is sometimes viewed as a zero generation (0G) cellular network which is being slightly above previous proprietary and limited coverage networks.
The first generation (1G): The first commercial launch of cellular telecoms was launched by NTT in Tokyo, Japan in 1979. In 1981, the NMT system was launched in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. This was the first mobile phone technology that allowed international use of the mobile phone which also known as “roaming”. The first handheld mobile phone in the US market was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, which received approval in 1983. Mobile phones began to proliferate through the 1980s with the introduction of “cellular” phones based on cellular networks with multiple base stations located relatively close to each other. At this time analog, transmission was in use in all systems. Soon, Motorola introduced the first truly portable, handheld phone. These systems (NMT, AMPS, TACS, RTMI, C-Netz and Radiocom 2000) later became known as first generation (1G) mobile phones.
Second generation (2G): In the 1990s, second generation (2G) mobile phone systems such as GSM, IS-136 (TDMA), iDEN and IS-95 (CDMA) began to be introduced. The first pre-commercial digital cellular phone call was made in the United States in 1990. In 1991, the first GSM network (Radiolinja) opened in Finland. 2G phone systems were characterized by digital circuit switched transmission and the introduction of advanced and fast phone to network signaling. Generally, the frequencies used by 2G systems in Europe were higher though with some overlap, for example the 900 MHz frequency range was used for both 1G and 2G systems in Europe and so such 1G systems were rapidly closed down to make space for 2G systems. In America, the IS-54 standard was deployed in the same band as AMPS and displaced some of the existing analog channels. Coinciding with the introduction of 2G systems was a trend away from the
larger “brick” phones toward tiny 100-200g hand-held devices, which soon became the norm. This change was possible through technological improvements such as more
advanced batteries and more energy-efficient electronics, but also was largely related to the higher density of cellular sites caused by increasing usage levels which decreased the demand for high transmit power to reach distant towers for customers to be satisfied. The second generation introduced a new variant to communication, as SMS text messaging became possible, initially on GSM networks and eventually on all digital networks. The first machine-generated SMS message was sent in the UK in 1991. The first person-to-person SMS text message was sent in Finland in 1993. Soon SMS became the communication method of preference for the youth. Today in many advanced markets the general public prefers sending text messages to placing voice calls. 2G also introduced the ability to consume media content on mobile phones, when Radiolinja (now Elisa) in Finland introduced the downloadable ringing tone as paid content. Finland was also the first country where advertising appeared on the mobile phone when a free daily news headline service on SMS text messaging was launched in 2000, sponsored by advertising.
Third generation (3G): Not long after the introduction of 2G networks, projects began to develop third generation (3G) systems. Inevitably there were many different standards with different contenders pushing their own technologies. Quite differently from 2G systems, however, the meaning of 3G has been standardized in the IMT-2000 standardization processing. This process did not standardize on a technology, but rather on a set of requirements (2 Mbit/s maximum data rate indoors, 384 kbit/s outdoors, for example). At that point, the vision of a single unified worldwide standard broke down and several different standards have been introduced. The first pre-commercial trial network with 3G was launched by NTT DoCoMo in Japan in the Tokyo region in May 2001. NTT DoCoMo launched the first commercial 3G network on October 1, 2001, using the WCDMA technology. In 2002 the first 3G networks on the rival CDMA2000 1xEV-DO technology were launched by SK Telecom and KTF in South Korea, and Monet in the USA. Monet has since gone bankrupt. By the end of 2002, the second WCDMA network was launched in Japan by Vodafone KK (now Softbank). In March the first European launches of 3G were in Italy and the UK by the Three/Hutchison group, on WCDMA. 2003 saw a further 8 commercial launches of 3G, six more on WCDMA and two more on the EV-DO standard. During the development of 3G systems, 2.5G systems such as CDMA 2000 1x and GPRS were developed as extensions to existing 2G networks. These provide some of the features of 3G without fulfilling the promised high data rates or full range of multimedia services. CDMA2000-1X delivers theoretical maximum data speeds of up to 307 kbit/s. Just beyond these is the EDGE system which in theory covers the requirements for 3G system, but is so narrowly above these that any practical system would be sure to fall short. By the end of 2007 there were 295 Million subscribers on 3G networks worldwide, which reflected 9% of the total worldwide subscriber base. About two thirds of these are on the WCDMA standard and one third on the EV-DO standard. The 3G telecoms services generated over 120 Billion dollars of revenues during 2007 and at many markets the majority of new phones activated were 3G phones. In Japan and South Korea the market no longer supplies phones of the second generation. Earlier in the decade there were doubts about whether 3G might happen, and
also whether 3G might become a commercial success. By the end of 2007 it had become clear that 3G was a reality and was clearly on the path to become a profitable venture.
The first PDA is considered to be the CASIO PF-3000 released in May 1983. GO Corp. was also pioneering in the field. The term was first used on January 7, 1992 by Apple Computer CEO John Sculley at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, referring to the Apple Newton. PDAs are sometimes referred as Palms, Palm Pilot or Palm Tops.
Today, most PDAs are well-equipped with newer technology and with more added advantages. A typical PDA has a touch screen for entering data, a memory card slot for data storage and at least one of the following for connectivity: IrDA, Bluetooth or WiFi. However, many PDAs (typically those used primarily as telephones) may not have a touch screen, using softkeys, a directional pad and some sort of note program. Connected PDAs also typically include e-mail and Web support. Many original PDAs, such as the Apple Newton and the Palm Pilot, featured touch screens for user interaction, having only a few buttons usually reserved for shortcuts to often used programs. Touch screen PDAs, including Windows Pocket PC devices, usually have a detachable stylus that can be used on the touch screen. Interaction is then done by tapping the screen to activate buttons or menu choices, and dragging the stylus to, for example, highlight.

Text input is usually done in one of four ways:-

* Using a virtual keyboard, where a keyboard is shown on the touch screen. Input is done by tapping letters on the screen.

* Using external keyboard or chorded keyboard connected by USB or Bluetooth.

* Using letter or word recognition, where letters or words are written on the touch screen and then translated to letters in the currently activated text field.

* Stroke recognition (termed Graffiti by Palm). In this system a predefined set of strokes represent the various character shapes to make them easier to remember.

PDAs for business use, including the BlackBerry and Treo, have full keyboards and scroll wheels or thumb wheels to facilitate data entry and navigation, in addition to supporting touch-screen input. There are also full-size foldable keyboards available that plug directly, or use wireless technology to interface with the PDA and allow for normal typing. BlackBerry has additional functionality, such as push-based email and applications. Newer PDAs, such as the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch include new user interfaces using other means of input. The iPhone and iPod touch uses a technology called Multi-touch.
The evolution of PDAs today is far different from the day it was first invented. PDAs nowadays are being used in many aspects to make our life easier. In automobile navigation, many PDAs are used in car kits and are fitted with differential Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to provide realtime automobile navigation.PDAs are
increasingly being fitted as standard on new cars. Many systems can also display traffic conditions, dynamic routing and roadside mobile radar guns. Popular software in Europe and in America for this functionality are TomTom, Garmin, iGO and others showing road conditions and 2D or 3D environments. Meanwhile, businesses and government organizations have relied upon rugged PDAs for many years known as enterprise digital assistants (EDAs) for mobile data applications. Typical applications include supply chain management in warehouses, package delivery, route accounting, medical treatment and record keeping in hospitals, facilities maintenance and management, parking enforcement, access control and security, capital asset maintenance, meter reading by utilities, and "wireless waitress" applications in restaurants and hospitality venues. A common feature of EDAs are the integration of Data Capture devices like Bar Code, RFID and Smart Card Readers. In medicine, PDAs have been shown to aid diagnosis and drug selection and some studies have concluded that their use by patients to record symptoms improves the effectiveness of communication with hospitals during follow-up. The first landmark study in testing the effectiveness of PDAs in a medical setting was conducted at the Brigham & Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospitals in affiliation with Harvard Medical School. Led by the team of Steven Labkoff, MD and Sandeep Shah, the Constellation project used Apple's Newton (first PDA in the market) to cater to the demands of the medical professionals. Constellation's objective was to test how clinicians in various medical environments (wired vs un wired) would use medical reference books on a hand-held device. The study validated the hypothesis that PDAs with medical content would be used to a greater degree (>40% more often) in unwired environments. Today, the company evolved from the effort Skyscape offers a wide range of resources including drug information, treatment options, guidelines, evidence based information and journal summaries including the drug & safety alerts. Other entrants include Epocrates and ABX guide, which supply drug databases, treatment information and relevant news in formats specific to mobile devices and services such as AvantGo translate medical journals into readable formats and provide updates from journals. WardWatch organizes medical records to remind doctors making ward rounds of information such as the treatment regimens of patients and programs. Finally, Pendragon and Syware provide tools for conducting research with mobile devices, and connecting to a central server allowing the user to enter data into a centralized database using their PDA. Additionally, Microsoft Visual Studio and Sun Java provide programming tools for developing survey instruments on the handheld. These development tools allow for integration with SQL databases that are stored on the handheld and can be synchronized with a desktop/server based database. On the other hand, PDAs offer varying degrees of accessibility for people with differing abilities, based on the particular device and service. People with vision, hearing, mobility, and speech impairments may be able to use PDAs on a limited basis, and this may be enhanced by the addition of accessibility software (e.g. speech recognition for verbal input instead of manual input). Universal design is relevant to PDAs as well as other technology, and a viable solution for many user-access issues, though it has yet to be consistently integrated into the design of popular consumer PDA devices.

Additional features / functions that may appear in the device in the next 5 years.

The additional features or functions that may appear in the in the next five years will be a fingerprint and iris sensor for the user before they can access to the important information on their PDA. Not only that, a “invisible keyboard”- the keyboard panel will be projected thru laser beams and users can have the keyboard size that the normal desktop computer does without having to bring a bulky external keyboard and it will make the user much more comfortable as the characters available on the keyboard will not be as small and cramped like the external keyboard that is used now. PDA size and diameter of the PDA will be like paper thin and it will be much lighter than the weight of the PDA nowadays. There will also be a mini torchlight, panic alarm and pepper spray detached with the PDA for the safety of the user. The charging for the PDA in the next five years will be partially solar as it helps when the user forget to bring their charger when they are abroad or going out. The PDA will also be installed with a device that will locate the PDA if the PDA is lost by the user, and the user can find it back easily- this can only be used when the user make a police report for the lost of their PDA and the company will then help the user find it back.In the next five years,PDA can also emit the fragrance that the user wants by keying in the product code and the receipt number of the goods.- meaning that the PDA will be the portable fragrance bottle emitter to the user.

Personal reflection:-

I, as one of the group members find that the knowledge gained from this assignment is more than I can imagine as I cant believe that a tiny little PDA will have so many function that I cant imagine. Not only that, from this assignment I learned that PDA can do many things in one time just like the mighty huge computer or laptops that we have at home. Not only that, this assignment also strengthen and providing more information to me towards the technologies that is used by the human now as I used to be an idiot in terms of the latest technology. With the progress of the technology every second, I believe that the knowledge for this device will be much greater than the old days and I hope that the PDA that we will use in the future will be much greater than what we have now because I believe that man will improve, so do the technology.

Personal Reflection:-

After completing this assignment which is on Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), I get to understand more about PDA and its history from the day I was first invented until today. PDA is an innovative creation from the combination of smart phone with computer technology. With this combination, it is more powerful to the user as it provides convenience in one handheld device. From this assignment, I have also learnt on how PDA is evolving from time to time to adapt to human demand and added more advanced technology. Generally, PDA is sort of “small computer” as it has computer software installed in it. It can perform office works, media player, Web browsing with its Internet-enabled function and more. PDA differ from the normal mobile phones as it has more added function where it is a sort of personal organizer that help to perform a lot of different tasks. Today, most of the current computer’s famous companies like Acer, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Ben-Q and others are producing different kind of PDAs besides desktop computers and laptops. However, I have learnt that the most important function of PDA is synchronizing data with a PC. This allows up-to-date contact information stored on software such as Microsoft Outlook or ACT! to update the database on the PDA. The data synchronization ensures that the PDA has an accurate list of contacts, appointments and e-mail, allowing users to access the same information on the PDA as the host computer. The synchronizing also prevents the loss of information stored on the device in case it is lost, stolen, or destroyed. Another advantage is that data input is usually a lot quicker on a PC, since text input via a touch screen is still not quite optimal. Transferring data to a PDA via the computer is therefore a lot quicker than having to manually input all data on the handheld device. Most PDAs come with the ability to synchronize to a PC. This is done through synchronization software provided with the handheld, such as HotSync Manager, which comes with Palm OS handhelds, Microsoft ActiveSync for older versions of Windows or Windows Mobile Device Center on Windows Vista, which comes with Windows Mobile handhelds. These programs allow the PDA to be synchronized with a Personal Information Manager. This personal information manager may be an outside program or a proprietary program. For example, the BlackBerry PDA comes with the Desktop Manager program which can synchronize to both Microsoft Outlook and ACT!. Other PDAs come only with their own proprietary software. For example, some early Palm OS PDAs came only with Palm Desktop while later Palms such as the Treo 650 has the built-in ability to synchronize to Palm Desktop and/or Microsoft Outlook, while Microsoft's ActiveSync and Windows Mobile Device Center only synchronize with Microsoft Outlook or a Microsoft Exchange server.
I, In as one of the group member for this assignment admit that during the beginning of the assignment, I don’t understand what are the functions, usage and the characteristics of the mobile device that we have choose for our assignment which is the PDA, and this make our assignment harder to do, but thru this assignment I learn a lot of information about the PDA, the technology of the PDA, the great invention of these technology that enable us to do a assignment about it.