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The world in tech: Finland - Hardware

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Over the last fifteen to twenty years Finland's economy has been booming, with the country rising to the top of all sorts of quality of life charts in the process. Helping fuel this meteoric rise was the huge growth of the Finnish mobile phone company, Nokia. However, with the future of Nokia looking in doubt thanks to dropping market share, recent abandonment of the Symbian OS, a gung-ho full-blown backing of Windows Phone and rumours of a takeover, confidence in the company being able to continue supporting the country long into the future is up and down.

As such, Finland needs to make sure it has a strong lineup of pretenders to the throne. We were recently invited out to there to meet with some of its brightest tech stars to see whether this country of just 5.3 million people can maintain its place at the top of the tree. We already looked at how the rise and wobble of Nokia has fuelled a surge in tech startups, and left the country navigating the right path but today we delve a little deeper into some of these companies to see what they have to offer

Senseg

Tablets and touchscreen smartphones are the booming markets of the tech world at the moment but one thing they do lack is an effective way of feeding back information to you through your sense of touch. This leads to a certain level of detachment from what you're doing. While we have vibrating buzzers to provide a certain level of haptic feedback, it's not accurate, subtle or constant enough to be of much use for anything other than basic notifications.

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Senseg aims to solve this with its electrostatic vibration technology. This stimulates the nerves in the tips of your fingers and causes them to feel like they're touching a more complex surface than the sheet of glass or plastic they're actually in contact with. All that's required is an extra coating on a capacitive touchscreen, a bit of circuitry and some software tweaks.

While the company is in talks with dozens of manufacturers to incorporate this technology, it had no production samples to show us, but we tried a couple of demos and can confirm it works. Sdaly we weren't allowed to take any photos of these devices.

Run your finger along what looks like a ribbed surface and the sensory feedback undulates accordingly, if it's a rough cloth surface, that's what you feel. It's a subtle effect and in fact we found it somewhat unresponsive to our fingertips (though the five other people present all felt it), though using the back of a hand gave a strong response, so clearly mileage will vary. It also needs a little work to get the subtleties right but theoretically it can simulate the feel of the outline of the keys on an onscreen keyboard, for instance, making for true touch typing on tablets. Also the company said it can theoretically just scan any surface and instantly you'll be able to simulate that feel on any device.

We've seldom seen the point of haptic feedback in its current form, but if Senseg can truly perfect the technology and add it to the best hardware then we could have a whole new revolution in touch screen input on our hands.

Genelec

Purveyors of top-quality professional audio monitors since 1978, Genelec has steadily been supplying recording studios, video editing suites, and enthusiastic amateurs with incredibly accurate and high-quality sound. Generally dubbed monitors, rather than loudspeakers, the units it produces are built to provide the most level, accurate sound possible, rather than one coloured by the tonal preferences of the manufacturer.

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One way in which it does this is by making its monitors active. This means that rather than having a single conventional amp producing one big signal to then be split up by a crossover circuit in the speaker, it has separate amps for each cone within the speaker unit. This allows the amps to be optimised for each driver and in particular results in a more accurate sound at low volumes. It also means you don't need a seperate amp – just plug the speaker into a conventional line-level output, or an mp3 player's headphone jack.

You can also tailor the sound via switches on the back, giving you the option to get adjust the sound to accommodate the nuances of the room they're in.

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We were treated to a demo of Genelec's smallest and cheapest model, the 6010A, and the rather larger 1038B. Granted we were in a special listening room but nonetheless the experience was quite enthralling. We started with the large units and were instantly blown away by the sheer level of detail, the vastness of its extension and the colossal volume. Clearly these were top notch bits of kit, but then what would one expect from units used by such companies as the BBC and SkyTV and that cost thousands of pounds a piece. If we were impressed by these goliaths, it was nothing compared to what we encountered with the little 6010As, though.

Clearly volume levels weren't as bombastic but the detail, soundstage and stereo image was incredible. A pair of these with the accompanying sub still costs a cool £1,000 but for budding musicians or just those that want an all-in-one route to boosting their home cinema setup (you can boost the 2.1 setup with three more speakers for a 5.1 setup), it looks like money well spent. Of course, we're not ones to fully judge a product when we've spent only a few moments with it so we'll be getting a set in soon for a full review as soon as possible.

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