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Singapore taekwondo needs a kick in the right direction

Singapore taekwondo needs a kick in the right direction

I love taekwondo.

It has elegance as a martial art and poise as a sport.

It is recognised at the Olympics and has about 100 million practitioners across more than 200 countries, making it one of the world’s most popular sports.

But with some recent controversies hitting the Singapore governing body hard – such as the Singapore Taekwondo Federation (STF) being suspended by world governing body World Taekwondo in May 2019, and two senior STF officials being found to have breached international body’s Code of Ethics – there has been much coffee-shop talk regarding the future of the sport here.

What can we do to bring the sport back to its glory days?

High-performance sports models around the world include the United States’ NFL (National Football League) and NBA (National Basketball Association), international soccer clubs, world-class Olympic schools and high-profile gyms such as Evolve MMA. All have a pedagogy that works and provide lifetime careers. We are talking well-established businesses.

Can we do the same with taekwondo? As with sports or art, the acquisition and retention of customers is a business question. There must be a value associated with the regular consumption of the sport.

The governing body needs revitalisation and a new focus to keep up with the modern and tech-savvy generation. Here is a 10-step approach that may help:

  1. Establish a local taekwondo institute
  2. Launch an annual membership with benefits
  3. Enhance and digitise curriculum
  4. Develop programmes for progression, courses and certification cards
  5. Provide insurance for combat sports
  6. Extend scholarships for international tournaments
  7. Offer career paths
  8. Produce engaging content
  9. Community outreach
  10. Hold an annual “Taekwondo Day”

1. Establish a local taekwondo institute

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The governing body would be a recognised authority that goes beyond basic local regulation of the sport. As the headquarters for all activities, the Taekwondo Institute will focus on promoting the sport and supporting auxiliary functions for all local taekwondo clubs, gyms and community groups.

Cost-effective services

With a major body comes business bargaining power. When managing a taekwondo club, a lot of effort is spent on acquiring logistic services (buses to transport members to and from club locations to various event locations), procuring ambulances and first-aid services for competitive events, etc. An institute, however, can issue a countrywide tender for the most cost-effective services that associate and affiliate clubs get to enjoy. Clubs can rely on the institute for reputable service providers, while service providers get to sign a contract for a lease of services to a definite size of consumers. It will be a fair, open and financially compliant process.

Training location

The institute will offer a physical space that coaches, clubs and trainers can lease – a comfortable training spot with clean changing rooms and shower facilities.


New black-belt students must attend a first aid and automated external defibrillator (AED) course before they receive their black belt. The course should be administered by a recognised first-aid training provider. Courses such as close-quarters combat could also be organised for all 2nd dan and above black belts to enhance their knowledge of self-defense – and it could be made open to all sparring-level color belts. These are just some ideas on how to continue the education of the taekwondo community.

2. Launch an annual membership with benefits

Although the organisation is not for profit, these activities, utilities, logistic bills and salaries will need to be supported financially. We will need an affordable annual membership cost of about $20.

Membership will come with benefits from the institute. Remember the bargaining power of the institute. With a numerical advantage, the business development team can negotiate deals with reflexology and sports massage clinics, health spas, sports and nutrition shops, medical clinics for screenings, and more.

Members will also receive a card with proficiency recognition attached to their membership number. We could even explore the feasibility of a point system for members to get more perks through fitness tests, etc.

3. Enhance and digitise curriculum

How can we track our progress in this sport? What are the skills a student needs to learn to progress to the next belt? How can new black belts guide new color belts? A black belt knowing how to perform a move doesn’t translate to the method of instruction and pedagogical skills.  How often has someone recorded a bout or a certain move to illustrate a taekwondo technique? How about stretching and cool-down techniques?

These skills are highly essential for an effective class but are heavily dependent on the experience of the trainer. We could make these instructional videos available on a mobile application to learn or refresh skills.

How to perform a 360-degree kick; step-by-step videos of a Koryo Poomsae; conducting a dynamic warm-up session safely? and effectively; viewing attendance and achievements of a course; classroom and facilities management; managing different belt levels in a single class – download the app!

4. Develop training programmes and certification cards

More often than not, we forget that taekwondo is not just an expression of a technique or a type of martial art. Black belts must remember that for all our strengths, the system can be improved when complemented with real-world self-defense techniques.

We need to continually improve ourselves by exploring and assimilating the strengths of other training styles and one approach will be to offer programmes to enhance the effectiveness of taekwondo.

For example, an acrobatic class where backflips and aerial moves are taught could become a recognised proficiency. Physical skills could be organized and delivered in a progressive curriculum, for example – a beginners course on how to do a kip-up.

How about ground fighting techniques, as well as human anatomy and physiology? The content we could create to completement taekwondo knowledge is immense and it would provide lifelong learning options for practitioners in a multi-disciplinary approach.

5. Provide insurance for combat sports

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For all the benefits of taekwondo, it is a contact sport and injuries inevitably occur – and coverage is avoided by most insurance companies. A collective authority could negotiate a combat-sport insurance that could be open to not just taekwondo, but also all combat-sport practitioners.

The opportunity and growth potential lie beyond a country and options for international coverage could be negotiated with an insurance company for coverage.

This would provide peace of mind for competitive individuals as well as regular practitioners.

6.    Extend scholarships for international tournaments

To promote the sport, we need to elevate the presence of the sport significantly, and that means nurturing and supporting athletes financially to compete in high-profile tournaments.

It is basically an investment question of risk versus return. In this case, successful medalists will highlight the achievements of the sport within the country.

Promising athletes distracted by a full-time job will have less energy and commitment to the sport. Many countries producing world-class medalists have a career programme that provides some sort of stipend or salary to support an athlete, and in Singapore ,there are some scholarships available, such as the SOF-Peter Lim sports scholarship and Singapore Sports School sports scholarship.

We could offer scholarships, so promising taekwondo athletes can focus on training and competitions. Each time athletes achieve a new milestone; they would be eligible for more benefits and funding.

The penultimate goal is an Olympic medal. But for each Olympian, there are dozens of lower-tier medalists. Instead of ignoring them, we should nurture all with career paths.

The institute could have a scholarship-athlete management division focused on developing the next generation of medalists, assisting with the planning of careers for athletes from the beginning. They would follow a training regime and, depending on the milestones achieved, different paths are possible. This way, there would be performance management and progress.

7. Offer career paths

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What can an outstanding individual expect after an illustrious competitive career? Like it or not, athletes have an expiry date. Statistics have shown that human performance peaks at about 25 years of age for Olympians, and retirement is a concern for many athletes.

Full-time competitors have a specific skill set that does not translate well to a corporate environment, and many individuals likely sacrificed education due to training commitments. Should a serious injury stop an athlete from progressing further, do we leave that person in the lurch? Obviously not. Physical skills are not the only component in taekwondo.

The institute would offer a variety of occupations with progression pathways for everyone – in business development, coaching, ancillary services, event organising, talent management and more.

Supported by an institute-sanctioned program, our athletes could go on to work in the media industry as stuntmen and even as actors. English actor Jason Statham (The Transporter trilogy, 2002-2008; Fast & Furious franchise, 2013-2019) was a competitive diver, Chinese actor Jet Li (Once Upon A Time In China series, 1991–1993) was a national Wushu champion from 1974-1978, just to name two people.

8. Produce engaging content

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Movies and mass media are extremely efficient platforms to promote a martial art or sport. Take, for example, Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior (2003) and martial arts film Ip Man (2008), which boosted interest in Muay Thai and Wing Chun.

On social media, the famous South Korean K-Tigers performance and demonstration group produce catchy songs and dances using taekwondo moves that inspire many to learn more about taekwondo. See some great clips of the K-Tigers here, here and here.

We could start a YouTube channel producing short exciting clips every week. Something in the style of comedic martial arts theatre JUMP would be a great start – audiences are wowed by the gravity-defying movements of the performers and love the hilarious storyline.

9. Community outreach

We now have a platform to endorse athletes, a membership system and career route, among other things. What we need is outreach and engagement. Training is a lifelong engagement and the earlier one starts taekwondo, the better the performance outcome.

The sport teaches self-defense and discipline and is a way for children to expend youthful energy.

The institute could organise free public performances and community events, where people of all ages can experience what it is like to kick a sandbag, kids can take part in a high-jump challenge, and the pioneer generation can learn some Poomsae movement patterns. There can be something for everyone at the taekwondo community festival.

10. Hold an annual “Taekwondo Day”

Humans are constantly looking out for the latest deals, and we have computer fairs, furniture and home improvement fairs, food fairs and the such.

How about an annual taekwondo event?

The Taekwondo Expo could be a weekend-long event where practitioners can bring friends and family to try the latest gear and combat-sports merchandise, attend workshops and explore customisation services. Get your tobok (uniform) or belt embroidered on the spot. Come taste that special nutrition and hydration drink or test the latest muscle rub. Catch performances, meet interest groups and measure your body-fat percentage at the health section. Existing vendors in the community get a free booth, and practitioners can wear their tobok for free entry.


These are just some ideas to keep the community engaged as well as promote the benefits of taekwondo to a larger audience. With tournaments, community outreach and an annual expo, we can expect each calendar year to be exciting and fulfilling. Keep fighting!

If you have any ideas, feel free to leave a comment!

What I would like to see in the next-generation phone (Part 2)

What I would like to see in the next-generation phone (Part 2)

This is part 2 of my future phone 2025 vision article, for part 1, check out the post here. This part details out the features that could be in Phone 2025!

Neuromorphic processor with an “AI-core”

Existing smartphones have been demonstrated to digitize documents, translate signs, drive a car, solve a Rubik’s cube, and the 2025 phone will become a butler, providing information that you didn’t know you needed, giving answers and solutions as you command it, learning your habits, nuances and behaviors to essentially offset human weaknesses.

For that to happen, the processor needs to be powerful – as powerful as a human brain, but without its caveats, such as forgetfulness. The processor will be a multi-SoC (system on chip) and will have the standard CPU-GPU cores, but with a Vision Processing Unit (VPU) and a neuromorphic core or Neural Processing Unit (NPU). This CPU-GPU-VPU-NPU processor will pave the way for Artificial intelligence (AI) of the future.

For the sake of simplicity, I call this neuromorphic processor an Artificially Intelligent Neural Processing Unit (AI-NPU). With machine-learning algorithms and neural-network (NN) circuitry, this AI-NPU core will feature deep-learning capability and the smartphone will learn to anticipate what I want to do next, my schedules, habits, desires and needs in a more human-like manner than the semantic feedback we have today.

A neuromorphic core is a processor modeled after the human brain, designed to process sensory data such as images and sound and respond to changes in that data in ways not specifically programmed. A learning and constantly evolving core computing architecture is tremendously efficient as it finds new and better ways to process a task. It’s like learning how to ride a bicycle. Despite the complexity of the activity, after a few tries, the task becomes ingrained and effortless, and the brain now automatically maintains balance and speed to keep a bicycle in motion.

With human-like anticipation and realism, you will not be able to tell the difference between your phone and a person. By learning texting habits, the phone will be able to respond to messages by itself, like having a bot to reply to those tedious chats. The new processor will make Bixby, Alexa, Siri and Cortana jealous.

This year’s mobile phones are on 7nm wafer processors which are already blurring the lines between desktop-grade CPUs and mobile CPUs. Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 1000 chip is designed to compete with x86 chips and Nvidia’s GPU systems are marketed for AI applications.

Current leaders in mobile processors marketed with purported “AI capability” include MediaTek’s new Helio P90 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855. Beyond 2019, major chip manufacturer TSMC has announced that its 5nm wafer fabrication process is ready for production for the next generation of processors, and Intel has announced its new Foveros 3D chip stacking technology.

The semiconductor industry has been pretty consistent in its projected advancements, with major players investing billions of dollars in R&D, and I expect to see a powerful CPU shrink down in size to fit my smartphone in 2025.

Computing Desktop environment

With all that processing power in a phone, do we really need a laptop or tablet for everyday computing tasks? The future phone will become your future laptop or desktop with a simple dock.

The idea is not new. Since 2012 Asus has had a product line, the PadFone, where its smartphone could be docked into a tablet – increasing the screen real estate and battery life of the phone.

This desktop functionality concept was recently updated by Razer’s Linda, Microsoft’s Continuum and Samsung’s DeX. Linda turns a smartphone into a trackpad that docks into a laptop body, whilst Dex is a dock for a phone which creates a familiar desktop computing environment. This desktop PC feature will be mainstream in future phones just by plugging a reversible USB Type-C port into the phone for both graphics and power. Examples today include Continuum and DeX, which can run from the company’s flagship phones. You’d be surprised how something so simple still isn’t intuitive enough today.

Memory capacity could come from ultrafast Intel’s Optane, comprising of Micron’s 3D XPoint memory, while as of 2019 Samsung’s embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) memory offers memory of up to 1Tb.

I envision that in 2025, we will all be carrying our PC in our pocket, looking for USB-C ports to plug our phones into so we can display our own instant-on PC at work, a friend’s home, or just about anywhere. I’ll wake up, undock my phone from its wireless-charging cradle and, when I reach work, I’ll just dock my phone into the cradle at my desk. There is would be no need for a dedicated computer at work or at home. All files are stored on various cloud services (Dropbox, Google Drive, Onedrive), while persistent files are stored in the phone’s 16TB of storage.

A home, or in the office, projectors and screens receive wireless display commands from the phone that are compatible with existing wireless display standards such as Apple’s AirPlay, Miracast, Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) and DLNA. As a computing desktop, our 2025 phone will push or stream a desktop screen to any TV, projector or screen that is compatible.

You’ll finally be free of lugging around a laptop. Just think about that.


The phone will have the latest connectivity options built into its communications chips.

5G-New Radio (5G-NR) is slated to replace 4G. 4G-LTE was introduced in 2009 and it took a few years for the infrastructure to become mainstream. 5G is in its infancy now, and 900% improvement has been demonstrated by Qualcomm over existing 4G networks.

By 2021, we should see 5G become mainstream in mobile devices and commonplace in the 2025 phone, with upgrades over existing standards. The increased speed and bandwidth that enables 5G is the use of a broader spectrum of frequencies and multiple antenna arrays. The standard also allows device-to-device communication, allowing your phone to be the central hub or base station controlling all your other IoT gadgets in the vicinity. Major chipmakers Qualcomm, Intel and Huawei all announced their 5G modems this year.

As for Wi-Fi connectivity, the standard that is known as the IEEE 802.11ax, now referred to as Wi-Fi 6 that was just introduced this year, will be mainstream in our Phone 2025.

The new standard feature – Multiple-input multiple-output orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (MIMO-OFDM) – allows bandwidth speeds five times faster than today’s fastest 802.11ac networks. Also, with CO-MIMO antenna arrays, users will experience even faster connectivity when there are several base-stations or routers nearby, as each data stream is broken up or provided by several routers. A very important speed upgrade when streaming 4K-Mixed-Reality (4K-MR) data streams is aptly shown in the Vimeo video in the next section.

With new bandwidth pipelines streaming directly to the future phone, users will demand ever greater instant high-quality content and information. Search, e-commerce and information avenues will grow ridiculously, with instant online demand from consumers. It is one of the reasons Google is paying a premium to have its search engine natively installed on Apple devices. The revenue line between the future phone and content/shopping services will blur and we could see major search engines and retailers putting resources into developing their own phones such as the Google Pixel 4 and Amazon’s foray into the smartphone market.

The motivation is simple, the future phone is the de facto portal to content, products, and services.

The Display

Figure 1 Ultra-high resolution, Ultra-high contrast ratio, depth variable QLED screen of Phone 2025

Screen technology has come a very long way since the last decade of smartphones, with pixel densities gradually increasing and pixel sizes slowly decreasing, with the first high-density pixel displays marketed by Apple, as a “retina-screen”, and Samsung’s Super AMOLED both exceeding 200-pixels per inch (ppi) then, and today to 458ppi on the iPhone 11 and 401ppi on the Samsung S10.

Our smartphones have captured all of our visual attention. Americans spend three to four hours a day looking at their phones, and about 11 hours a day looking at screens of any kind. Needless to say, the screen is still the main interactive surface with the Phone 2025, only that the technologies used to build the screen are going to be amazingly different. Today’s screens are typically built on AMOLED, IPS-LCD or OLEDs, but upcoming technologies such as a microLED (mLED) are in the works.

I think that QLEDs (quantum-dot) LEDs will become a mature mobile screen technology capable of giving us the chromatic vibrance consumers demand. Quantum-dot displays are not a new technology and are staples of flagship television products today, with manufacturers touting the advantages of QLEDs compared to OLED TVs. A nice comparison is described here. However, QLEDs are still nascent and there is massive commercial push to advance this technology.

I’m just going to call it what it is, the future phone will sport a QLED 4K ultra-resolution screen likely based on electroluminescent quantum dots (ELQD) and… it will be transparent. Why do we need a transparent QLED screen?

We can now hide the front cameras and sensors behind the screen. Since the nano-pixels of the QLED screen are so small, tiny holes or gaps can be created between the light-emitting pixels to allow light through the screen. Looks like Oppo has already unveiled this cool feature!

No more notches or front-facing sensors taking up precious screen area. Just one big gorgeous edge-to-edge QLED screen.

Another cool feature of Phone 2025 is the use of smart nano-optics to create a depth perception, allowing the screen to produce a 3D in-depth effect, some sort of holographic screen viewing experience, this capability is important when we use the phone in eXtended Reality (XR) applications.

This method is known as Visual Aberration Correction utilizing Computational light field displays, this technology pre-distorts the graphics for an observer, so that the target image is perceived without the need for corrective lenses.

This new screen is transparent to cameras and biometric sensors behind the screen and allows depth/dioptre correction so that the display adjusts according to the distance that your eyes are away from the screen. If the screen is close to the user’s eyes, it blurs or sharpens reciprocally avoiding the need for corrective optics in XR headsets.

The Camera

With such a powerful brain in my future phone, we need just as powerful sensory inputs. Humans are arguably blessed with the best eyes in nature, but other animals do have their own vision advantages when compared to humans.

For example, cats see better at night, horses have a very large field of vision (350° vs human’s puny 180°), and birds of prey have incredible long-range telescopic vision. Many animals have tetrachromic vision such as the mantis shrimp which can see into UV spectrum and a greater spectrum of light than humans!

So the trend of having multiple cameras started out once again from Apple, with the introduction of the iPhone X’s dual camera, allowing for different lens elements (wide or telephoto). Manufacturers quickly caught onto the advantages of having more than one camera module and soon we had triple (Huawei’s P20 Pro & the Apple iPhone 11 Pro), quad (Samsung Galaxy A9) and even five cameras (Nokia PureView 9).

The main difference between the cameras are the different focal lengths. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view and vice versa. It’s almost like carrying a full set of lenses in your pocket.

Ok so we’ve got some wide-angle shots and some nice zoomed-in shots. So what? What can we do with our two eyeballs that our phone’s camera array will allow us to do better?

It’s simple physics. More cameras mean the phone can capture more light. Meaning impressive low-light vision and photography, a feature available in Huawei’s P30, Google’s Pixel 3 and Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro. I’m talking about Night-Vision.

So, the Phone 2025 will have an optically stabilized quad camera element array with the following camera capabilities:

  1. Telephoto Zoom
    In 2007, I thought a liquid-zoom lens would be a cool feature to allow for optical-zoom. After all, you still need actual physical distance to focus light from a distance to the sensor. Then Oppo and Huawei both offered phones with embedded lens elements in a periscopic manner within the camera body. That works too, let’s have two in the future phone.
  2. Macro Mode (microscope)
    With up to 1cm focal distance from the ultra-wide, ultra-high-resolution main camera, loss of resolution to achieve macro-distances 
  3. Night Vision mode in real-time
    First, each sensor combines four pixels into one, and then we have light being captured on all four sensors simultaneously to create a true low-light camera, something popular low-light camcorders are known for. An infrared matrix illuminator beside the camera will help illuminate pitch-black conditions.
  4. True-3D videos
    A quad camera setup will provide stereoscopic vision and depth-differentiated videos. Because there are now always at least two stereoscopic cameras capturing footage with distance information capture, Phone 2025 essentially becomes a 3D video camera capturing 3D volumetric videos and data. Capture 4K 120 frames per second (fps) 3D-video on this slick future phone.
  5. Super Resolution photos
    Super Resolution is a technique that combines all the pixels from the different elements to form one ultra-large resolution photo. The technique differs slightly from night-vision mode where all the pixels are layered on top of one another to create a brighter image. Super Resolution photos combine each pixel side by side to make a larger image. There are commercial cameras using this technique – the Light L16 Camera from contains 16 camera modules – five 28mm ƒ/2.0, five x 70mm ƒ/2.0, and six 150mm ƒ/2.4 lenses giving a combined resolution of up to 52 million+ pixels! In fact LG has filed a patent for a 16-camera module phone. SIXTEEN.

    You don’t need that many.
  6. Ultra-Slow-Motion Capture
    Fast, sensitive cameras plus a crazy powerful processor equal ultra-slow-mo videos. Sony’s Xperia XZ3 can do 960fps at 1080p. I’d reckon Phone 2025 can do 4000fps at 1080p, no sweat. But the higher the fps, the smaller the resolution. Hey, you can’t have everything.
  7. 360° 3D videos
    Something I would like to see integrated into Phone 2025 is a 360° camera. How cool is that? Today’s 360° cameras, such as the Insta360 and GoPro Fusion, already produce jaw-dropping video features such as “over capture”. Because the camera is capturing 360 traditional frames can be captured from the spherical 360° video footage taken from a single camera point – giving the illusion of a panning camera with a moving subject, ‘bullet-time’ effect so on and so forth.

    It’s like many cameras capturing the action all at once. This dream phone would be able to capture simultaneous video from the front and rear camera sensors. With four video streams, two from the front and two from the rear cameras, the AI-NPU stitches it all together.

XR eXtended Reality

Phone 2025 has a powerful processor and powerful “eyes” What else would be cool? Something like Tony Stark’s phone in the movie Iron Man 2. Rather, a mixed-reality with AI-machine vision that will enable one to mark out or pull data spatially from the environment.

Today, this is known as a technology-mediated experience that combines virtual and real-world environments and realities, often referred to as Augmented Reality (AR) or Mixed Reality (MR), where some aspect of the real world can be seen, like Microsoft’s HoloLens; or Virtual Reality (VR) like the VIVE system, where the user sees a video feed instead of the actual environment.

The ‘X’ in eXtended is a placeholder for virtual reality V(R), augmented reality A(R) or mixed reality M(R), and XR is can be used to casually group technologies such as VR, AR and MR together. In a nutshell, XR allows us to augment digital objects or information on top of reality, or, conversely, see physical objects as present in a digital scene. There have been many attempts such as the Ghost, and even this cool hyper-reality video concept done by Keiichi Matsuda and another concept by Unity.

Ok so what can we do with XR?

Simple stuff we can do today involves real-time translation: Google’s Translate app translates multiple languages, Photomath solves any math problem you take a picture of and Google maps helps you navigate in an urban environment.

When app stores for the smartphone were introduced, they paved the way for an industry of applications and businesses with promises of XR-enabled technologies that would revolutionize the way we interact with our future smartphones.

Things start to get interesting from here on, we can now take a selfie video of ourselves in real time and super-impose that in a virtual environment, and we can increase the size of a physical environment in a virtual environment. Video and audio transmogrification are now real-time too,with speech and video that can now be voiced over or videoed over the actual video. Remember the scene from the movie Mission: Impossible III, where the hero changed his voice using a voice-changing device? Audio-shopping is now possible, and so is video-shopping. With XR, we could have real-time video conversations with a foreign counterpart speaking another language. XR is going to be an incredible productivity changer.

Human Machine Interface Gesture Control

How are you going to control your fancy MR headset? With XR and a computing desktop environment enabled smartphone chances are, we could end up interacting with what’s called a Natural User Interface (NUI).

NUI lets users interact with a device with a minimum learning curve – an example is a touch-less gesture control which allows manipulating virtual objects in a way like physical ones. It removes the dependency on mechanical devices like a keyboard or mouse. Different approaches for gesture control include Radar-type sensors from Google, Leap Motion’s hand tracking system, and the Bixi hand-gesture system, just to name a few.

Despite the options available, the challenge has been miniaturization, the sensor would have been placed underneath the QLED screen and could either be an optical sensor or just plain old dual-cameras and machine-vision in action and that’s not difficult to implement in a mobile device.

The truth is, having an NUI reduces the learning curve of new applications and is critical in XR applications, where the ability to emulate holding or interacting with a virtual object will greatly increase usability of our future phone on many productivity fronts.

Fancy a future with people waving and gesticulating at their phones, that’s body language indeed.

Hybrid Biometrics and Security

The Phone 2025 represents your entire digital life, and with that, we will need upgraded security. Since the first fingerprint sensor on the iPhone5S, there have been some exciting developments in this aspect, such as facial and iris-recognition on 2017 flagship smartphones such as the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S9.

But how do designers pursue better screen-to-bezel ratios without sacrificing fingerprint sensor footprints? This year, several manufacturers introduced a dozen phone models with under-display fingerprint sensors, such as the Vivo X21, Oppo R17, Huawei Mate P30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10, Honor 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T provided by manufacturers from Qualcomm,  General Interface Solution (GIS), O-film Tech, Fingerprints and Goodix.

However, we’ve seen that fingerprint and facial recognition security methods can be spoofed or defeated. How can we create a more secure device without sacrificing screen real estate? I dub the next generation of biometrics in the future phone as Multi-factor authentication (MFA), using no less than five biometric factors at pseudo-random intervals. Full-display fingerprint scanner, facial-recognition, capacitive fingerprinting, blood-flow thermography are technologies that come to mind.

The entire QLED screen would authenticate each finger-press as we tap anywhere on the screen, something Apple patented in April 2019, and I envision the future phone to have thermogram sensors to capture heat information as you use the device. 3D face printouts or fingerprint hacks won’t work anymore, as the person using the phone must be a live human being.

Currently, the world’s smallest thermal camera is the Lepton from FLIR, which is available here and here, but at $350, it’s an expensive component to put into a phone. This is where a lower-cost component such as Panasonic’s thermo-graphic matrix sensor, known as the GRID-eye AMG8833, could be used.

The future phone will have at least three biometrics, in-screen fingerprint authenticator checking every time you type on the screen, and a thermal-augmented facial recognition scan. This MFA approach gives confidence that only the owner can access his very expensive, high-tech piece of gear.

Imagine using your phone to unlock your work monitor. There won’t be nosy co-workers trying to guess your password or spoof your fingerprint reader. There’s nothing to break into if the device isn’t even there.

Phone 2025 Vision

Looks like I’m going to wait out the next few phone releases till Phone 2025 is released!

What I would like to see in the next-generation phone (Part 1)

What I would like to see in the next-generation phone (Part 1)

Figure 1. What would we see in the next generation of smartphones? Check out Part 2 to see what I think!

It has been an interesting year with half a dozen flagship smartphones released within months of each other by major manufacturers. I thought the fall 2019 series of iPhones was an interesting sign of things to come and historically speaking Apple’s smartphones have been a benchmark many strive to achieve. The topic of smartphones can dominate a dinner discussion, with naysayers and pundits in supportive and dismissive stances on the features of each new model.

Modern mobile phones have become complex handheld computers that are expected to perform myriad workhorse and entertainment functions. To meet the insatiable global consumer demand for the latest smartphone, new flagship models are released in mere months and each new smartphone is expected to dazzle consumers with new differentiating and defining features.

The history of smartphones changing our lives has since spanned decades and smartphones have since come a long way. In 2013, I praised the iPhone 5S, and in the last few months major manufacturers like Apple, Samsung and Huawei have been releasing new flagships vying for a chunk of the $355-billion pie.

What’s all the fuss about?

The mobile phone race has come a long way since the first iPhone disrupted the market in 2007 with its iconic keyboard-less capacitive touchscreen that has largely remained unchanged and revolutionized future smartphone designs.

Today the industry has become extremely complex. Manufacturers are scrambling to differentiate themselves with the smallest of features that could sway consumers to purchase their model over a rival’s.

There is a plentiful list of acquisitions of smaller technology companies by major manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung to create a significant differentiator in their handsets. Individual components that defined a feature in a handset could have been a purchase of an entire company’s product portfolio by one of the larger smartphone manufacturers – for instance the purchase of AuthenTec for $356M in 2012 enabled Apple to lead the market the following year with fingerprint biometrics in the iPhone 5S – a major leap forward in phone security then.

Now, there is hardly a smartphone without biometric security, immensely improving user experiences. With the iPhone X, Apple once again rekindled the spotlight on the decades-old technology of facial recognition – which was available since 2012 on phones such as the HTC One X. The difference is that Apple has vastly improved the feature with a “dot-projector” that allows the facial recognition camera to work in low-light conditions and greatly boosts resistance to spoofing attempts that plagued the older generation of phones with that feature.

Hits and Misses

Over the years, there have been some hits and misses. One example is an attempt by manufacturers to integrate micro DLP projectors to expand screen real estate by projecting media and content onto an external surface such as Samsung’s Galaxy Beam and Lenovo’s Smartcast, which received a lukewarm reception.

Other misses were the much hyped “modular-phone” approach such as Google’s Project Ara and Motorola’s MotoZ (which is still available). The idea was simple – users could customize their phone as they liked it – need a bigger battery? Use a bigger battery module. Need more memory? Swap out a module with one of a larger memory, and as better components were introduced to the market, users could sequentially upgrade older components with newer modules and not have to replace their entire phone. The concept was desirable on paper, but Google’s Ara project never entered mass production and I don’t know anyone using a MotoZ phone.

Then we have the first foldable smartphone with a flexible screen, the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The ambitious eye-watering $2,000 device got people excited with the idea that you could expand your phone to provide larger screen real estate, however it was possibly rushed to production resulting in a massive media disaster where many reviewers and users’ devices failed just days into use.

Trends Today

In 2018, 1.56 billion smartphones were sold worldwide and this trend is fueled by the ravenous demand of consumers clamoring for more features and capabilities from their handsets.

Mobile displays have resolutions exceeding what the human eye can discern and their touchscreens have sensitivities greater than our skin. These components are often very difficult to produce and competing companies are forced into partnerships for parts sophisticated or too expensive to produce for one smartphone model – for instance, Apple acquires its memory chips and OLED screens from its rival Samsung for use in its iPhone X. It’s a peculiar relationship, where the bulk of Samsung’s revenue comes from selling its best parts to its competitor. These are used in Apple’s flagship phone, which outsells Samsung’s own flagship phone, but when the iPhone X succeeds, so does Samsung!

Apple doesn’t make its own modems either, it tried to get it from Samsung and MediaTek and eventually settled on buying the entire modem division of leading chipmaker Intel for $1billion.

Major players now use one another’s Intellectual Property (IP) – a report breakdown of the iPhone X reveals that most of its components are manufactured by other semiconductor companies. This complex labyrinth of manufacturing logistics has spawned a global behemoth of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), where companies produce parts that are then resold or repackaged by another manufacturer.

The line blurs here, where now manufacturers have the option of selecting parts of similar specifications and capabilities produced for one brand for their own and hardware differentiation becomes more difficult moving forward, when every new flagship smartphone has very similar specifications as its rival. Fast processor? Check. High-definition screen? Check. Low-light zoom camera? Check. Waterproofing? Check.

This level of component inter-reliability is unprecedented, with YouTuber Scotty Allen building a working Android phone and iPhone using back-alley components in Shenzhen, China.

Besides hardware features, software and user-experience environment of the operating system becomes a glaring differentiator. Various manufacturers add their own flavors based on their corporate strengths, such as Google’s “unlimited” storage, where it provides its own cloud storage feature (Google Drive) on its Pixel series – a seamless experience emulating a phone that doesn’t have a storage capacity limitation. Other manufacturers have introduced their own OS features such as Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s Bixby personal assistants, into their phones.

When it comes to battery life, as there is a mismatch in technological advancement between chips and batteries, it is more difficult to pack more energy into the same volume than transistors. As processors get more capable and powerful, phone makers are compensating for this incongruity by decreasing the size of the electronics to allow more space and volume for batteries. As a result, phone designs have largely plateaued into the same design across the market. A flat piece of metal and glass.

Unfortunately, when it comes to hardware – there are only so many transistors one can cram into a processor or sensor element. Semiconductor companies are packing more features and functions into their chips using increasingly sophisticated and expensive manufacturing methods that only the big boys can afford.

It’s like watching a marathon where best runners are neck and neck and no one can discern a clear winner, whilst the rest of the competition has fallen far behind or dropped out.

Vision then and now

January 9th, 2007 was the day the world changed. Apple co-founder Steve Job presented the iPhone, which revolutionized the smartphone from a clunky keypad device to a desirable, sleek capacitive touch-screen communicator. That titular event rocked the mobile phone and computing industry and reinvented the meaning of a “mobile phone”.

I remember the showcase vividly, enamored with how technology leapt overnight. I realized we were in for a very different future and sketched what I thought would be the phone of 2010.

Inspired by the first iPhone and the possibilities it would bring and with existing advancements in 2007, I envisioned the following features:

  1. A liquid-zoom lens that allowed actual telephoto-zoom capability into the existing camera without physically moving a lens assembly.
  2. A virtual keyboard laser projector would allow the user to type on a QWERTY arrangement on any physical surface.
  3. 16Gb of memory (note that 2007-era phones had memory in the hundreds of megabytes).
  4. USB3.0 charging port for high-speed data transfer and power charging and a large 4000mAh lithium-polymer battery to power this beefy device.

Wow. The future was something to look forward indeed.

What has happened since?

Then 2010 came and the world got Apple iPhone 4 and Google’s Nexus One. Both didn’t quite achieve my vision. The iPhone 4 had only 512Mb of DRAM memory and other flagships of the era had up to 1Gb of on-board memory, a tad short of my envisioned 16Gb.

However, Samsung supplanted that limitation with an external microSD card slot which allowed users to add aftermarket memory of up to 32Gb in 2010. Moreover, those devices also introduced features such as a high-resolution “retina display”, video-chat and a gyroscope sensor to complement the accelerometer. The addition of a high-resolution screen, a more powerful processor and more sensors enabled a new generation of mobile games that were controlled by the physical pan and tilt actions of the user.

A mark of exciting times.

Today, there is no shortage of projections of “the future smartphone” with jazzy ideas such as a foldable or bendable phone and fully transparent screens constantly being featured by concept artists.

Unfortunately, whilst imaginative, there is a major difference between an artistic concept and a manufacturable design, a fine balance that Apple has been very successful in marrying. It is easy to envision a bendable phone by introducing existing foldable batteries or flexible electronics. However, unusual prototype or concept designs are notoriously challenging to scale up to a mass production that meets consumer demand, or very expensive to manufacture due to the low yield rate of a novel ingredient. One missing component could require a complete redesign or an elimination of that feature altogether.

An example would be a bendable phone, demonstrated in November 2018 by Samsung and Royole. It’s arguable that whilst all components required to make a flexible smartphone exist, there are a few problems – yield, availability and cost. Flexible electronics do not yet have the component density of more established rigid printed circuit boards (PCBs). There are fewer suppliers in the industry, which means a higher cost and a lower yield to achieve the same performance of rigid PCB counterparts. What about failure rates?

Samsung’s folding phone was a massive disaster, as no one wants a flexible screen that fails after several hundred “folds” – a rigid screen is still more reliable. Likewise, the same goes for a flexible battery, which does not have the same energy density as the traditional lithium-ion battery pack, which has an abundance of suppliers. These reasons are why I don’t think flexible phones will become mainstream soon.

With these considerations and the current market inclinations, a future phone must be feasible, manufacturable and practical. With the highly random and unpredictable rapid advancement of technology amalgamated with the complexities of global manufacturing logistics and market economics, I’ve decided to envision a phone six years into the future. I present my Phone2025 concept, see my article on Part 2 of this segment!

The Ontomorphic Quantum Processor

The Ontomorphic Quantum Processor

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

I present to you the Ontomorphic Quantum Processor – a beauty that came to me in a dream.

Sometime in the future

Imagine a scene out of the 2004 science-fiction action film I, Robot. Four men skilled in combat, myself included, were battling a humanoid robot in a tiny, claustrophobic room. We had trouble subduing it. The robot was nearly as quick as us – but it seemed invulnerable, with a tough composite alloy body. It fought in a windmill style, swinging its arms- metal arms that could cause serious damage to flesh and bone – in circles while rushing at us. There were no weaknesses we could exploit. It did not register pain and attacking it was like striking a lamp post.

The robot was state-of-the-art – more advanced than anything I’ve encountered in my dreams. It could process multiple assailants via its visual feed and anticipate attack vectors before we made our moves, compensating for its slower artificial muscle actuators.

I postulated that its processor is unlike anything humans have constructed. It likely created a real-time 3D response map and simulated every possible scenario and angle of attack from aggressors, while learning and analyzing fight patterns – think Ironman’s AI analyzing Captain America’s movements and countering them (in the Marvel Universe). Only our numerical superiority and teamwork finally brought down this robotic destroyer.

We removed the robot’s chest plate and, through a maze of wiring, found a cryogenic containment system. Why would a robot need a cryogenic system? One of my companions vented liquid helium from the vacutainer, nearly cold-burning his finger in the process. He released the inner pressure seal and that was when we witnessed this most advanced processor.

I consider myself relatively knowledgeable in the field of technology and we had a tech-wizard on the team who could lingo-speak with Tony Stark any day. The technology in front of us was generations ahead of anything we had faced and, given the paraphernalia required to run the processor, it became obvious what we had on our hands.

How a brain works

Our brains comprise neurons connected by dendritic synapses. Signals are first created from a neuron, known as an action potential, which is an electric signal created from chemical charge carriers known as ions. This electrochemical charge is then transferred via ions and neurotransmitters from one neuron to another. More details on the process are described here.

Computer processors work similarly. Almost every processor in use today is based on the manipulation of electrons – hence the term “electronics”. All information technology we have today follows the basic principle of sending electrons where we want them to go.

Batteries store electrons, transistors funnel and direct electrons, LEDs convert electrons to photons and, on a larger scale, integrated circuits are a bunch of transistors and switches turning on and off depending on how or where we want the electrons to go to.

Our brains process and store information via electrical signals, very similar to how computers do it. The only difference is we use neurons and computer processors, transistors. The problem with today’s processors is that you can cram only so many transistors into a piece of silicon.

Eventually, traditional transistor-based processors encounter heat and electron-leakage problems.

The future needs a futuristic processor.

Robotic brains in science-fiction

Science-fiction abounds with the fantastic imagination of writers. The droids in I, Robot and the Star Wars film franchise are built with “positronic brains“, while the killer robots in the Terminator film franchise use “neural net CPUs“.

Since a positron or antielectron is the antiparticle or the antimatter counterpart of the electron, I don’t think it’s implausible to have a positronic processor as the manipulation of positrons could yield superior processing power. Positrons are subatomic particles that have the same mass as an electron, but a positive instead of a negative charge. When these two particles encounter each other, they annihilate and produce two or three gamma-ray photons, (high-energy light) in an event referred to as electron-positron annihilation.

I’ve yet to see scientific evidence of how a positron manipulation is possible today and the most advanced scientific research into positrons are the creation and study of positrons. So, a positronic brain is still in the realm of science-fiction.

I’ve yet to see scientific evidence of how a positron manipulation is possible today and the most advanced scientific research into positrons are the creation and study of positrons. So, a positronic brain is still in the realm of science-fiction.

Now, the neural net CPU in the Terminator franchise is described to be based on quantum effect chips. Quantum computers are no longer the stuff of science-fiction and are even commercially available from Google and IBM.

Today’s quantum computer systems are in their infancy and fraught with engineering challenges. They are almost comparable to the first integrated circuit released in 1958. Over the last six decades, the first integrated circuit has now become a supercomputing device that fits in our palm – what we now know as a smartphone. Imagine going back in time and showing someone from the 1960s the capabilities of your smartphone. That piece of glass and metal in your hands would be considered magic. The technology required to create a smartphone would have been unfathomable then.

Ontomorphic quantum processor

Some 40 years into the future, the Ontomorphic Quantum Processor, which we dug out of the robot, is a self-learning quantum processor that does not need to be chilled to absolute zero to maintain quantum states. It is based on known science but is still beyond the capabilities of technology now.

The processor’s four interior walls contain four silicene/graphene-based quantum nano-electronic circuit boards. The circuits are then connected via what I call the electro-optic lattice. The lattice structure comprises optical and electrical conducting strings. The optical conductors transmit information photons of light via optical fibers made from yttrium aluminum garnet or sapphire crystals. The electrical wires are made from multi-wall carbon nanotubes that are superconducting in the cryogenic socket.

Four quantum circuits are enclosed by a large quantum memory crystal based on a diamond. This diamond-based quantum memory stores quantum information that is transmitted across the lattice via photons. If you compare it with today’s conventional processors, you could call this a quad-core CPU with shared memory, something already present in graphic processing units.

The lattice acts like a neural network, shoving light-signals where they need to go at near-light speed, and changes depending on the information being processed, which brings about its “learning capabilities” or the ontomorphic portion of this processor.

Wait… what?


The word ontomorphic does not exist, but ontogeny refers to the inception and lifelong development of an organism physically and psychologically to its eventual maturity and subsequent senescence. I use this word because our human learning capabilities come from our interaction with our environment and experiences throughout our lives.

When one learns to perform a task, like ride a bicycle, do a cartwheel or master a new language, one is often awkward, clumsy and inefficient. But over time and practice, the brain forms new synaptic connections to streamline the knowledge.

One gets better, more efficient. That is the formation of new neural pathways in the brain, but the total number of neurons remains relatively the same.

This is the same for the Ontomorphic Quantum Processor. The number of quantum gates is limited by the initial design and construction of the processor, but the electrooptic lattice allows signals to be routed more efficiently over time. A simple example could be: “How can we arrive at 100 from 0?”

A child could start with 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1… till he reaches 100. For this to happen, the child needs to understand the concept of numbers and the arithmetic function of addition. He would eventually arrive at the number 100. A triple-digit constant. Great!

Could this be done more effectively? A child introduced to the multiplication function could attempt a more efficient approach: 10 x 10 = 100. Even better. But now, the child needs to commit to memory what multiplication does and the tables associated with it.

All this assumes that no errors occur in the process, which is almost impossible. Which is where I come to the morphic capabilities of the

Ontomorphic Quantum Processor.

Learning and evolving from error

What is often referred to today as evolutionary or mutation computation is essentially a computer attempting a trial-and-error process to determine the most efficient and optimal solution. There will come a point where memorizing the entire multiplication tables will take too much memory to be viable or useful to the individual. What’s 5424 x 2413?

Yes, one could learn novel arithmetic to compute that mentally, but most adults will reach for a calculator. The process is comparable to determining that there’s a shortcut through an alley on your way home or discovering that a button on the photocopying machine scans a two-page document in half the time.

Evolution computation has been used to design more efficient antennas [12] and chairs, often exceeding what humans can envision manually. The ontomorphic capabilities of the Ontomorphic Quantum Processor come from the new junctions and spin-spin interactions from the electrooptical lattice, known today as neural networks [13], but much more advanced and far faster at near-lightspeed interaction.

This processor learns and becomes better at what it’s instructed to do.

Quantum computer

The primary principle of the Ontomorphic Quantum Processor is quantum logic [1], using quantum-mechanical superposition and/or entanglement to perform computation functions. Quantum computers are vastly different from traditional computers in that they use quantum logic gates and qubits and have the potential to compute complete equations hundreds of millions of times better than a traditional computer. In that perspective, today’s most advanced transistor-based processors would look like an abacus beside a quantum computer system.

Silicene/graphene nanoelectronic board

Quantum logic gates are delicate structures and traditional printed circuit boards aren’t going to cut it. So silicene/graphene-based boards are required [2] as a foundation for the nano-electronic circuits that contain billions of quantum gates [3]. Silicene is an allotrope of silicon, much like graphene is an allotrope of carbon. Both have hexagonal honeycomb structures and exhibit remarkable properties of electrical conductivity and functionalization Silicene would provide the base for traditional transistor construction with its band-gap tunability and stronger spin–orbit coupling which is important to maintain the Quantum spin Hall effect. It’s as small as it gets – atomic-level transistors.

Graphene will be utilized as the circuit foundation, for it is better at conducting electricity than copper, which makes it ideal for ultra-fast circuits [4]. Moreover, graphene’s photovoltaic effect has been shown to conduct electricity after absorbing light [5]. These two incredible properties of graphene mean optoelectrical signals can be transferred from quantum gate to quantum gate at ultra-fast near-lightspeeds [6].

The silicene/graphene nanoelectronic board will contain all the quantum gates and convert the signals and information from light to electricity and vice versa.

Quantum memory diamonds

As you can imagine, you probably can’t use traditional memory to store quantum information. Diamonds being used as quantum memory is a recent development [7-11]. Normally, a diamond is composed of only carbon atoms in a tetrahedral structure. Introducing a nitrogen atom into the structure instead of carbon and specific sites leaves a hole or vacancy in the crystal lattice. The nitrogen atom and the empty site can accept different quantum states and are used to store a quantum bit of information [11].

Diamond is an ideal material for quantum memory as the crystalline structure achieves strong coupling between phonons and vacancy spins which can be stored or read from as pulses of light, known as phonon-mediated quantum photonics [7, 8].
The probable reason why the diamond is arranged in such a way is to allow for shared-memory and faster access to memory from one nanoelectronic circuit board to another. Plus, diamond is an excellent heat conductor because of the strong covalent bonding and low photon scattering. Thermal conductivity of natural diamond is measured to be about 2200W/(m.K), five times more than silver, the most thermally conductive metal. This allows the whole processor to be effectively cooled to just above absolute zero to reduce quantum errors.

Year 2060

Computers have come a long way since 1960 and will continue to go further. Historically, there is an incredible breakthrough every century with major advancements in technology, from the bronze and iron ages to modern industrial, atomic and space ages.

Today, we are at the forefront of the information age that is seeing no sign of stagnating, and systems are already incredibly impressive. Isaac Asimov’s robot science-fiction novels have captured the imaginations of many and many of his stories have become fact in recent years.

2060 will mark one century of computing progress and possibly the quantum age of mankind. Hopefully, I will live long enough to see it.

The performance of the Ontomorphic Quantum Processor will be unlike anything we can imagine today. It would perform more accurately and incredibly faster than any human can. That’s gonna rattle some cages.

Imagine seeing one firsthand. Now that will be exciting.


  1. Nielsen, M.A. and Isaac. Chuang, Quantum computation and quantum information. 2011, AAPT.
  2. Tao, L., et al., Silicene field-effect transistors operating at room temperature. Nature nanotechnology, 2015. 10(3): p. 227.
  3. Barenco, A., et al., Conditional quantum dynamics and logic gates. Physical Review Letters, 1995. 74(20): p. 4083.
  4. Heersche, H.B., et al., Bipolar supercurrent in graphene. Nature, 2007. 446(7131): p. 56.
  5. Johannsen, J.C., et al., Tunable carrier multiplication and cooling in graphene. Nano letters, 2014. 15(1): p. 326-331.
  6. Hafez, H.A., et al., Extremely efficient terahertz high-harmonic generation in graphene by hot Dirac fermions. Nature, 2018. 561(7724): p. 507.
  7. Burek, M.J., et al., Fiber-coupled diamond quantum nanophotonic interface. Physical Review Applied, 2017. 8(2): p. 024026.
  8. Rogers, L.J., et al., All-optical initialization, readout, and coherent preparation of single silicon-vacancy spins in diamond. Physical review letters, 2014. 113(26): p. 263602.
  9. Sohn, Y.-I., et al., Controlling the coherence of a diamond spin qubit through its strain environment. Nature communications, 2018. 9(1): p. 2012.
  10. Kalb, N., et al., Dephasing mechanisms of diamond-based nuclear-spin memories for quantum networks. Physical Review A, 2018. 97(6): p. 062330.
  11. Astner, T., et al., Solid-state electron spin lifetime limited by phononic vacuum modes. Nature materials, 2018. 17(4): p. 313.
  12. Hornby, G., et al., Automated antenna design with evolutionary algorithms, in Space 2006. 2006. p. 7242.
  13. Haykin, S.S., Neural networks and learning machines/Simon Haykin. 2009: New York: Prentice Hall.
Portable hard drive upgrade

Portable hard drive upgrade

I’ve had my trusty 2TB Western Digital Passport for a while now, and a couple of thumbdrives of varying capacities lying around and as file sizes get bigger, instead of “how much capacity”, the question is now “how fast can I read/write my stuff?”

Transferring a 40Gb ISO file took forever, and I thought it was high time to upgrade. One of the biggest improvements in computing in the last decade was the growth of flash storage (storing data on chips instead of magnetic discs). Think about how much boot up and loading time SSDs have saved you. Speed aside, SSDs also have a size advantage. Today, it is possible to cram as much as 2TB of storage onto an M.2 drive the size and weight of a stick of chewing gum. Since all my PCs are on SSDs now it’s time to move away from hard drives. Up to 256Gb thumb drives exist now and Hardwarezone reviewed a couple of external SSD-based storage gadgets here. If you need more storage, there’s always Kingston’s new DataTraveler Ultimate Generation GT in 1 and 2 TB capacities. Kingston’s previous largest flash drive, the 1 TB DataTraveler HyperX Predator, is currently selling for over US$1,400 on Amazon as of July 2017. Yea. A thousand dollars for a thumb drive, oh well bragging rights are never cheap. I didn’t really need to carry 2Tb around all the time, and one grand is too much to stomach for a flash drive, so I went and assembled my own SSD-based thumb drive from an M.2 mSATA SSD. I got the M.2 to SSD converter enclosure here. There are other sellers that sell this item, however, it lacks a model number and thus you must search for it with generic search terms such as “NGFF USB 3.0”. You can pick one of these up for around $10 US. My SSD is a standard desktop grade M.2 by Adata SP900 2280 SATA in 512GB, based on synchronous MLC NAND flash and LSI SF-2281 controller, which I got for about $300.


Pitting them head-on, both plugged into the USB3.0 port of my PC.

Performance benchmarking

As expected, on an OS with UASP support, in this case Windows 10, we can connect in UASP mode. I was getting 427 – 486MB/s read and topping out at 230 – 260MB/s write speeds on the SSD across two benchmarking utilities, both more than ten times faster than the hard drive.

Real-world file transfer

A simple un-optimized transfer with individual file sizes exceeding 4Gb saw an average speed of 192MB/s, nicely transferring 26.6Gb of data is 180 seconds, or about 3 minutes, reasonable with a bus write speed of 260Mb/s, the same transfer would have taken 1,016 seconds or 17 minutes on the harddrive!

Power consumption

Power consumption is always a concern when you’re mobile, in this case my SSD consumes about 30% less power when active than my hard drive and idles at 139mA on average when there is no activity, significant when you’re on the road running off battery power.

The SSD consumes between 0.14A and 0.36A when idle and active (read/write).


For geeks, the controller is based on the ASM1153E USB 3.0 to SATA III controller chipset from AS Media, the SOIC-8 PH25Q40B chip beside it is a SPI 4Mbit flash memory, which is likely used to store device ID reported to the host device as well as specific addresses of programming. Findchips and Octopart yielded nil results, but looking at the pin-outs and the footprint of the chip, it could be a clone of a similar 4MBit SPI 512KB x 8 NOR flash memory by Winbond with the part number “W25Q40B”


Conclusion: All in all, I’m pretty satisfied with the results and hopefully it’ll last me for the next half a decade as my previous storage devices have reliably done so!