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Portuguese Tech Firm Uncorks a Smartphone Made Using Cork

Portugal is the world’s largest cork producer and the phone also marks the latest effort to diversify its use beyond wine bottle stoppers

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Tito Cardoso, CEO of Ikimobile, stands inside the Ikimobile factory in Coruche, Portugal, June 21, 2018.
Tito Cardoso, CEO of Ikimobile, stands inside the Ikimobile factory in Coruche, Portugal, June 21, 2018. (VOA)
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A Portuguese tech firm is uncorking an Android smartphone whose case is made from cork, a natural and renewable material native to the Iberian country.

The Ikimobile phone is one of the first to use materials other than plastic, metal and glass and represents a boost for the country’s technology sector, which has made strides in software development but less in hardware manufacturing.

A Made in Portugal version of the phone is set to launch this year as Ikimobile completes a plant to transfer most of its production from China.

“Ikimobile wants to put Portugal on the path to the future and technologies by emphasizing this Portuguese product,” chief executive Tito Cardoso told Reuters at Ikimobile’s plant in the cork-growing area of Coruche, 80 km (50 miles) west of Lisbon.

“We believe the product offers something different, something that people can feel good about using,” he said. Cork is harvested only every nine years without hurting the oak trees and is fully recyclable.

Portugal is the world’s largest cork producer and the phone also marks the latest effort to diversify its use beyond wine bottle stoppers.

A technician shows a piece of cork used for a smartphone produced at the Ikimobile factory in Coruche, Portugal, June 21, 2018.
A technician shows a piece of cork used for a smartphone produced at the Ikimobile factory in Coruche, Portugal, June 21, 2018. (VOA)

Portuguese cork exports have lately regained their peaks of 15 years ago as cork stoppers clawed back market share from plastic and metal. Portugal also exports other cork products such as flooring, clothing and wind turbine blades.

A layer of cork covers the phone’s back providing thermal, acoustic and anti-shock insulation. The cork comes in colors ranging from black to light brown and has certified antibacterial properties and protects against battery radiation.

Cardoso said Ikimobile is working with north Portugal’s Minho University to make the phone even “greener” and hopes to replace a plastic body base with natural materials soon.The material, agglomerated using only natural resins, required years of research and testing for the use in phones.

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The plant should churn out 1.2 million phones a year — a drop in the ocean compared to last year’s worldwide smartphone market shipments of almost 1.5 billion.

Most cell phones are produced in Asia but local manufacture helps take advantage of the availability of cork and the “Made in Portugal” brand appeals to consumers in Europe, Angola, Brazil and Canada, Cardoso said.

In 2017, it sold 400,000 phones assembled in China in 2017, including simple feature phones. It hopes to surpass that amount with local production this year. Top-of-the-line cork models, costing 160-360 euros ($187-$420), make up 40 percent of sales.(VOA)

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Canon Finds The Growth of Smartphone Sector As a Great Opportunity

According to a company survey, in 2017 unit sales of interchangeable-lens cameras in the global camera market reached approximately 11,400,000 units. In 2018, the sales are expected to again reach approximately 11,000,000 units

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Canon
DSLR leader Canon brings its first mirrorless camera to India.

More and more people, especially the millennials, are clicking photos via smartphones and for the Japanese camera giant Canon, this has created a huge market to tap as these people now want to experience something bigger and better which the camera and imaging pioneer can easily provide.

In 2017, nearly 1.3 trillion photos were taken globally — from 660 billion in 2013 — and most of the images were taken via smartphones.

“Today, more and more people are buying high-end cameras to rev up their smartphone experience. There will soon be more digital natives in the 10-50 age bracket than ever before.

“Our aim is to acquire the new generation in order to create new businesses and enhance our EOS camera ecosystem,” emphasised Go Tokura, Executive Officer and Chief Executive, Image Communication Business Operations at Canon.

Addressing a select gathering at the Canon headquarters here, Tokura said the company is aiming to build a brand new imaging world where high-end smartphones are deciding the future of camera experience.

Canon
Canon. (IANS)

In India, over 400 million people are smartphone users and more than 700 million people have feature phones who will eventually shift to smartphones for a better experience.

“Although the compact and entry-level camera market is shrinking owing to smartphones, professional and premium camera market is actually growing and our EOS series has been a phenomenal success,” Tokura told the audience.

According to the Japan-based Camera Imaging Products Association (CIPA), the shipment number of digital cameras dropped a massive 23 per cent in July this year compared to the same period last year.

On the other hand, the professional camera market is growing.

“We have sold 90 million EOS cameras and 130 million EF lens so far. We have been building EOS cameras for the past 30 years and today, we have achieved high speed, ease of use and high-image quality for end users,” informed the Canon executive.

Entering the high-end full-frame mirrorless camera market, Canon on September 5 launched the EOS R — along with four RF lenses and four types of mount adapters — that ensures higher image quality and enhanced usability.

The EOS R, which will be launched in India on September 21, employs the newly-developed RF Mount. A large (54 mm) mount internal diameter and short back focus allows for an enhanced communication between the lens and camera body.

Canon
Representational image.

The Canon EOS R has a 30.3MP Full-frame CMOS sensor and an ISO range of 100 to 40,000 (expandable up to 50-102,400).

“This is a low-light marvel. The Dual Pixel CMOS AF ensures high operability and precision. The camera is built for an advanced video/movie recording in 4K UHD,” said Yoshiyuki Mizoguchi, Group Executive, ICB Products Group, Imaging Communications Business Operations, Canon.

According to a company survey, in 2017 unit sales of interchangeable-lens cameras in the global camera market reached approximately 11,400,000 units. In 2018, the sales are expected to again reach approximately 11,000,000 units.

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“For the young millennials, we have launched three concept models this year: MF telephoto camera, intelligent company camera and an outdoor activity camera.

“Then there are wearable cameras, AWS DeepLens (a deep learning enabled video camera), Google Clips, Galaxy Gear 360 and camera-equipped drones where we are present. Canon has already taken a giant leap for the future,” Tokura noted. (IANS)