Future of Engineering

Friday, September 26, 2008

Remote Control Not Needed - Control Your TV With Hands

Consumers will soon be able to control their TV screens or home entertainment systems simply by waving their hand, thanks to technology developed by Toshiba's Cambridge Research Laboratory in collaboration with the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering.

People tend to get nostalgic about those happy yesterdays. But if I were to ask - would you like to travel back to the stone age(that is life without AC and remote controlled TV), most of you would decline. Because life in the 21st century is all about existing in a remote controlled atmosphere.

Wiki says that the first remote intended to control a television was developed by Zenith Radio Corporation in 1950. The remote — officially called "Lazy Bones" was connected to the television set by a wire.

That's so clumsy!

The engineers of yesterday knew that too. That's why they invented the wireless remote controlled gadgets. Engineers of today have taken it one step further by creating the hand controlled TV.

"Using the Toshiba experimental TV viewers are able to interact with the display system simply by gesturing with their hand. Once the viewer is in front of the display screen, the system will ‘see’ them and invite them to take control of the display simply by raising their hand. As the system can robustly track their hand even under different lighting conditions, the visitor can enjoy controlling the on-screen cursor."

The gesture interface signals the arrival of a new era in the age of wireless communication. The remote control hasn't gone out of fashion yet. But the day isn't far when I'd be using my hands just like a choirmaster to keep things going according to my way.

Surely, we've come a long way from the good old days.

I just needed a remote
to switch and play
Now I need
just my hand to
surf away.
Oh! I believe in Today.

Source - Cambridge Network
Image - Cambridge Network

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Medical Invention - Remote-controlled Pills

Pills work in different ways due to the presence of enzymes in our body.The rate of passage through the body can vary, and some individuals have higher levels of digestive enzymes than others. This variation lowers the effectiveness of the drug.

When capsules were invented in the mid-19th century, they provided a significant improvement in the palatability of medications.Since their discovery the consumer has come to perceive this as the most efficient method of taking medication. The consumer is in for a huge surprise.

Philips seeks to scale new heights with its latest patent - the remote-controlled pill. The electronic drug delivery capsule has RFID technology for authentication and identification purposes.

The remote-controlled pill has a cavity for carrying a drug which can be opened by a remote signal.The passage of the pill can be followed by MRI or ultrasound and the drug dispensed with an electronic trigger at the appropriate location.

The drug can also be released according to other external factors. For example, if atmospheric pollen reaches a certain level or the patient's blood pressure hits a predetermined number.

It is not meant to be recycled, therefore Philips is trying to keep the cost factor down. Hope we can look forward to a cheap, disposable, geeky pill in the near future.

Related links:

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Urgent! Water Me - SOS Phone Call From Plants

Everyone loves to own a rose plant. OK. If not a rose, it's a dahlia or lily or any other flower by any other name.

But not everyone has the time to look after it. The neglected plants cannot voice out their concerns. They just wither away hoping you would notice. Alas by the time you turn your attention to the plant, it would have reached the point of no return.

If only it had been able to ask for help it would have survived.Botanicalls tries to do that. It helps in establishing a contact between plants and people. When a plant on the Botanicalls network needs water, it can call a person and ask for exactly what it needs. You must be wondering how a voiceless plant can 'talk'. The techie stuff below tells you how it's possible.

Each plant on the Botanicalls system is equipped with sensors connected to an Arduino microcontroller which contains code particular to that plant type. When a plant's microcontroller determines that the plant needs to make a phone call based on current sensor information, it sends data through an Xbee wireless radio to an Xport gateway. This gateway connects to the internet, where it contacts a PHP script with the plant's ID number and type of need. PHP then packages this information and passes it on to Asterisk, an open-source telephone system, which generates the call. When the call is placed, a prerecorded audio file is played, expressing the particular desire of that plant.

Spider plant, scented geranium, pothos, chives and Cuban oregano were some of the plants that were used for testing. Looks like one has to wait for the rose plant to send an SOS.

Till then these plants that have asked; shall receive.

Related Links:
Twitter messages from pothos plant.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Locate Stolen PC, Camera, Mobile With Anti-Theft Software

After having spent a fortune on acquiring addictive gadgets such as a mobile phone, laptop or camera you can't let it slip away so easily. But there are thieves out there waiting for an opportunity to outwit you and escape with your precious gadget.

Not anymore. Even if it gets lost on a jungle it will find its way back home. Thanks to anti-theft software installed inside. This post looks at the latest options available to protect your gadgets.

Eye-Fi Card Catches Camera Thief

Eye-Fi user Alison DeLauzon lost $1,000 worth of photo gear while on holiday in Florida. An ordinary camera would be lost forever. The camera and the memories stored inside.

The Eye-Fi SD card, a virtual private eye sprang a surprise on her.Equipped with a special memory card with wireless Internet capability it automatically sent her holiday pictures to her computer and also uploaded photos of the miscreants who had stolen it.

Eye-Fi is a 2-gigabyte SD memory card that is priced at $100. Get one and find the culprits yourself.

Source - Reuters

Locate Stolen PC

LocatePC is a free theft recovery software for your PC. Don't lose sleep over a stolen PC. Locate its existence without even seeking help from the men in blue.

LocatePC is free software, and runs unobtrusively on your computer, with no icons, popups or saved emails. If your computer is stolen then the thief will not even know that LocatePC is running, and as soon as they connect to the internet a secret email is sent to you containing the details that you need to track your hardware.

LocatePC runs on Windows Vista/XP/Me/98. You just need a POP email account for LocatePC to send you email.

Anti-Theft for Mobile Phones

A group called GadgetTrak, of Beaverton, Oregon, has developed PhoneBak, a software that allows phone owners to have their phones "call them" in the event they are lost or stolen. It gathers all the info for you. As soon as another SIM is inserted into your phone, you would know the new number, the GSM Area Code and the Cell ID that gives you the exact location of the phone.

The starting price of this software is $24.95

Source - GadgetTrak

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Use Your Cellphones To Get X-Ray & MRI Scans

If you are residing in a metro, having an X-Ray or an MRI scan done is a cinch. But what if you reside in a remote location or in a village which does not the sophisticated imaging systems?

A team from the Hebrew University in Israel seems to have an answer.

MRI Scanner - not to worry anymore that your village doesn't have these!

Pic credit: Blanchard Valley Health System

Using a process developed by the Jerusalem-based University, cellphones can be used to get your X-Ray, Ultrasound imaging etc., processed from a centralised location and these can be transmitted back to your remote location using the same cellular phones.

The new technology is expected to be a boon for patients in developed counties, those in rural areas with reduced access to medical services, and to millions of patients in the Third World. This idea has the potential to replace current systems that are based on conventional, stand-alone medical imaging devices.

Prof. Boris Rubinsky's new medical imaging system consists of two independent components connected through cellular phone technology, with a relatively simple data collection device on-site connected via cell phone to an off-site computer that processes the data and produces an image.

Under this new technology developed by Rubinsky, a simple and independent data acquisition device (DAD) at a remote patient site could be connected via cellular phone technology with an advanced image reconstruction and hardware control multiserver unit at a central site, which could even be thousands of miles away from the remote site. The cellular phone technology transmits unprocessed, raw data from the patient site DAD to the central facility. This data is then returned from the central facility to the cellular phone at the remote site in the form of an image.

Using commercially available parts, the research team built a simple data acquisition device for the experiment. The device had 32 stainless steel electrodes - half to inject the electrical current and the other half to measure the voltage - connected to a gel-filled container that simulated breast tissue with a tumor.

Over 200 voltage measurements were taken and uploaded to a cell phone, which was hooked up to the device with a USB cable. The cell phone was then used to dial into a powerful central computer that contained software to process the packet of raw data that was transmitted. An image - that was verified to be precise - was then reconstructed and sent back to the cell phone for viewing.

This is one idea that is as useful as it is cool!

Source: Jerusalem Post

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Smart Wireless Sticker from Axcess - Auto Item Identification, Tracking, Data Logging

Axcess International Inc., a leading provider of wireless business-activity monitoring solutions, announced the "industry's first Smart Wireless Sticker." It provides automatic item identification, locating, tracking, protecting, data logging, and condition sensing for items up to 1000 ft. away, at a cost of less than $10 per sticker. The "wireless computer on a sticker" combines traditional bar codes, Electronic Product Code (EPC) RFID, long-range RFID tracking, and wireless sensing in a small electronic label easily adhered to most any object. It is designed to enhance data management in product manufacturing, product automatic identification in shipping, automatic inventory and protection of enterprise assets, and visibility into the condition of perishables and pharmaceuticals throughout the shipping process.

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Nokia's Mobile Eco Sensor - More Aware of Your Health & Environment

This concept from Nokia, truly is surfing the Eco trend wave.

To help make you more aware of your health and local environmental conditions, the Nokia Eco Sensor Concept will include a separate, wearable sensing device with detectors that collect environment, health, and/or weather data. You will be able to choose which sensors you would like to have inside the sensing device, thereby customizing the device to your needs and desires. For example, you could use the device as a “personal trainee” if you were to choose a heart-rate monitor and motion detector (for measuring your walking pace).

The concept consists of two parts – a wearable sensor unit which can sense and analyze your environment, health, and local weather conditions, and a dedicated mobile phone.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Drop-on Demand Dispensing - Controlled Printing Free of Clogging

Queen Mary University's newest spin out company, EMdot, has been awarded the 2008 Royal Academy of Engineering ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs prize. This year's winning team - Dr Mark Paine, Dr Matthew Alexander and Dr Katharine Smith - will receive the £40,000 prize fund for their patented drop-on demand dispensing technology.

The team have developed an ingenious system for controlled printing of tiny dots that was free of the clogging problems of inkjet printing. There are many potential applications, but the invention has particular significance for the manufacture of biological microarrays, and the deposition of ultra-small samples for lab-on-a-chip analysis.The team, along with their colleague Prof John Stark, are all co-inventors of the core technology and founders of EMdot, the company they formed to commercialise the technology.

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Organic Field-effect Transistors (OFET) - for Tags, Bar-codes, Active Matrix Elements

Since the invention of the first transistor in 1947 by John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain, the vast majority of electronic devices have been based on inorganic semiconductors and, in particular, on silicon. Over the past few years, however, organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) have attracted a great deal of interest due to their unique processing characteristics. Organic materials offer the benefit that they can be printed over large areas on plastic, flexible substrates at low temperature by solution-based techniques, which would result in a dramatic reduction of manufacturing costs. Though the first OFETs did not transport charge as well as inorganic materials, the best ones nowadays are achieving charge carrier mobilities of the same order as amorphous silicon. Organic-based electronics will not replace high density and high speed silicon circuits, but might play an important role in applications such as identification tags, electronic bar codes or active matrix elements for displays.

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New Grid-based Superfast Internet May Replace World Wide Web

The internet could soon be made obsolete by a new "grid" system which is 10,000 times faster than broadband connections. Web could collapse as video demand soars.

Scientists in Switzerland have developed a lightning-fast replacement to the internet that would allow feature films and music catalogues to be downloaded within seconds.

The invention could signal the end of the dreaded 'frozen screen', when computers seize up after being asked to process too much information. The latest spin-off from Cern, the particle physics centre that created the internet, the grid could also provide the power needed to send sophisticated images; allow instant online gaming with hundreds of thousands of players; and offer high-definition video telephony for the price of a local call. David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University and a leading figure in the grid project, believes grid technology could change society. The power of the grid will be unlocked this summer with the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a new particle accelerator designed to investigate how the universe began. The grid will be turned on at the same time to store the information it generates, after scientists at Cern, based near Geneva, realised the internet would not have the capacity to capture such huge volumes of data.

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Tiny Sensor Developed To Detect Homemade Bombs

A team of chemists and physicists at the University of California, San Diego has developed a tiny, inexpensive sensor chip capable of detecting trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide, a chemical used in the most common form of homemade explosives.

The invention and operation of this penny-sized electronic sensor, capable of sniffing out hydrogen peroxide vapor in the parts-per-billion range from peroxide-based explosives, such as those used in the 2005 bombing of the London transit system, is detailed in a new article

In addition to detecting explosives, UC San Diego scientists say the sensor could have widespread applications in improving the health of industrial workers by providing a new tool to inexpensively monitor the toxic hydrogen peroxide vapors from bleached pulp and other products to which factory workers are exposed

The sensor works by monitoring the variability of electrical conductivity through thin films of “metal phthalocyanines".

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gadgets & Devices Top Executives & CEOs Love

Technology proceeds at such a breakneck pace that sometimes it feels like we're rocketing into science fiction territory: Animal cloning, unmanned aircraft and space tourism are all recent realities. For some, though, invention isn't moving fast enough. Take the 95 CEOs and other executives who were interviewed (results in this post) over the past two years. The organization asked each person to name the one device they wish somebody would invent. The results range from the highly imaginative to the mundanely useful.

Excerpts from the results include
1. "Fountain of youth" pill
2. A simple, cheap means of water desalination.
3. A mobile phone that works everywhere — from mountaintops to subways, from California to the Kalahari
4. A do-it-all device that would reduce gadget overload.
5. A telephone/music player/electronic wallet or, more imaginatively, a telephone/music player/GPS/speedometer
6. An electronic Swiss Army knife
7. Single remote for all of their home entertainment devices
8. A power source that would work with all of their portable electronics.
9. A house-cleaning robot is much desired

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Some related blog posts on gadgets & cool devices
11 Coolest Google/Twitter Combo Gadgets and Devices
Devices That Track Every Precious Need
11 coolest gadgets and devices
5 Interesting , Worth having a look, Gadgets


Ultra-thin Nanoribbon Circuit Boards Bend & Stretch

Scientists have created ultra-thin electronic circuit boards that can be bent, stretched and folded. The new component boards could prove useful in wearable health monitors, surgical gloves and other applications in which they can be wrapped into unusual shapes such as body parts, aircraft wings or fuselages. They can hold components such as transistors, amplifiers and logic gates, and have similar electrical performance as traditional brittle silicon circuit boards.

Built from minute "nanoribbons" of silicon crystals and plastic, 50 of the new flexible boards stacked on top of each other would be approximately as thick as a human hair. The integrated circuit boards are made by bonding them to a layer of pre-strained silicone rubber. This process gives it a complex geometry that allows it to be folded and stretched in different directions without losing electrical conductivity. Details of the new invention were published in the journal Science.

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Keywords: ultra-thin electronic circuit boards, fuselages, transistors, amplifiers, logic gates, nanoribbons, silicon circuit boards, electrical conductivity, Prof Rogers


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Organic, Chemical Materials in Digital Signal Processing (DSP)?

Performing digital signal processing using organic and chemical materials without electrical currents could be the wave of the future — or so argue sotirios tsaftaris, research professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and aggelos katsaggelos, ameritech professor of electrical engineering and computer science, in their recently published "point of view" piece in the march 2008 edition of proceedings of the ieee.

Digital signal processing uses mathematics and other techniques to manipulate signals like images (natural medical, and others) and sound waves after those signals have been converted to a digital form. This processing can enhance images and compress data for storage and transmission, and such processing chips are found in cell phones, ipods, and hd tvs.

But over the past 10 years, scientists and engineers around the world have experimented with performing signal processing using different materials. In their piece, tsaftaris and katsaggelos describe these experiments while stirring the engineering community towards "a possible not-so-electronic future" of digital signal processing.

Keywords: Digital Signal Processing, Sotirios Tsaftaris, Aggelos Katsaggelos, IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)

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4G Mobile - 100 Mbps Speed Wow! But Not So Soon!

There has been a buzz around the news that 3G is coming to the next version of the iPhone possibly in a few months. But it’s 4G the next generation, that’s on the minds of many mobile and iPhone enthusiasts. Not just these enthusiasts, the ever-hyped mobile industry is on a constant chatter about 4G. So let's look at what 4G could offer and where indeed we are on 4G.

The most exciting aspect of the 4G phones is the download speed - expected to be 100 Mbps - and its equally awesome 50 Mbps upload speed.

In terms of speed, 2.5G can offer web access at a rate of between 144 and 384 kilobits per second. 3G is even faster - anywhere between 500 Kbps and 1.5 Mbps. 4G holds the promise of routinely delivering the higher end of that transmission rate, and much faster, in some cases, up to 100 Mbps for downloading, and 50 mbps for uploading.

Naturally, such an order-of-magnitude increase in speed implies that the multimedia browsing apps will get a shot-in-the-arm. The big application thing that 3G and 4G will bring, with such fast upload speeds, is enabling much higher mobile web browsing and richer mobile social networking. Today it takes a while to upload a video to your favorite social networking site using your mobile or camcorder. With promised speeds of 50 Mbps for upload ( at least in selective cases), this should be a cinch.

For many around the world, who are just getting used to 512 Kbps browsing on their PCs, just imagine what a 100 Mbps speed on their mobiles could mean!

Oh well, 4G is not going to be without its attendant niggling issues. Among the 4G issues are what tech standards should be used for it, how existing cell systems can be “backhauled” to put it into effect, and at what cost to network operators — and ultimately — customers. Part of the reason is cost. Data plans, for e-mail and web use, add to a cell customer’s monthly bill by at least $30 to $60 and often more, depending on usage. And last, but not the least, the 100 Mbps and 50 Mbps speeds will not be available to every user of mobile but we suspect it will be available only to select audiences in select locales, at least to begin with.

There is another reason not to get overly excited about 4G. The fact is, even assuming everyone agrees on all standards quickly (which in itself will be a mini-miracle), it is probably 4-5 years before the ordinary you and me can have it on our mobiles.

It is also sobering to remember that in the United States, sales of 3G phones have just topped 50 percent with the remainder being 2.5G or 2G phones. Part of the reason is that the networks aren’t built out yet for 3G, and less than half of cell customers whose phones are equipped for 3G are using its capabilities.

But all said, just the prospect of 100 Mbps download speed on mobile is just too enticing to not get excited. So all of us mobile junkies will have to wait a while before we get our hands on awesome 4G phones, but it appears that it's worth the wait!


Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Peek Into the Near Future of Electronics Technology

How long do you think DVDs have around? 20 years? 10 years? Actually, they have only been around for about seven years, but it seems like they have been around much longer. Many of us can hardly remember life before DVDs. That can be attributed to how rapidly we can become acclimated to some innovations in electronics technology. I believe there are other electronics technologies, either just getting ready to take off, not widely available yet, or just around the corner, that are going to become adopted just as quickly in the near future.

Once such item is Voice over Internet Protocol, also known as VoIP. This innovation renders the whole concept of long distance virtually obsolete. It bypasses the traditional telephone company infrastructure and delivers phone service over a broadband internet connection to a regular phone. Similar to cell phones, this service is purchased based on a fixed and/or unlimited number of minutes.

Another such technology is Broadband over Power Line, or BPL. Already in wide use in many other countries and currently being tested in the U.S., BPL is the delivery of broadband internet service over traditional power lines. A computer is connected to a special modem which is simply plugged into an electrical outlet. This kind of service could prove useful for those who cannot get traditional broadband services like cable modem or Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), as almost everyone has access to electricity now

While we’re on the subject of broadband internet services, several technologies just around the corner are going to make them much faster than they are today. The typical download speeds for broadband ranges from 1.5 to 10 megabits per second (mbps) today. Within the next year, speeds of 15-20 mbps will be available to the average consumer. Then, shortly thereafter, speeds of up to 25, 50, 75, and even 100 mbps will be available in some places. In the not-so-distant future, speeds of 25-100 mbps is will be quite common

Another technology item that you’ve probably heard a lot about recently is digital television. Digital TV uses a different wavelength than traditional analog TV and has a much wider bandwidth. It also has a picture that never gets “snowy” or “fuzzy.” If the signal is not strong enough, you get no picture at all, rather than the fuzzy picture you sometimes get with analog. In order to receive digital signals over the airwaves, you must have a digital TV set (one with a digital tuner inside) or an analog TV with a set-top converter

High Definition Television (HDTV) is one possible use of digital signals. HDTV uses the entire digital bandwidth and is the crystal clear format you’ve probably seen on TVs in electronics stores. It has no visible lines on the screen. Keep in mind that all HDTV is digital, but not all digital is HDTV. Along those same lines, not all digital TVs are HDTVs

TV recording and playback technology is changing as well. DVD recorders, which debuted about four years ago, have now become affordable to the average family. A couple of years ago, they were priced above $1000, but now you can get them for around $250, in many cases

On the other hand, digital video recorders (DVRs) and personal video recorders (PVRs), just two names for something that is really the same thing, seem to be gaining quickly in popularity.
DVRs/PVRs are becoming so popular that cable and satellite TV providers have begun including them as add-ons to their receivers, either at no extra cost or for a small additional monthly fee.

Flat screen and flat panel TV technology is also starting to boom. Many people are confused about the difference between flat screen TVs and flat panel TVs. Flat screen TVs use the old cathode ray tube (CRT) technology for their picture tubes and are therefore bulky like traditional TV sets. However, they are different from traditional TV sets in that they have a flat screen

“Entertainment PCs” will be another item to watch because of their tremendous potential to revolutionize home entertainment. The concept of “entertainment PCs” is being hailed right now by both Microsoft and Intel. In fact, Microsoft has developed a special operating system for them

Obviously, not all of the cutting edge electronics technologies mentioned above will meet with great success. Some of them might actually go the way of Betamax, digital audio tape (DAT), and DIVX. However, many of them are sure to catch fire and become such an intricate part of our everyday lives that we’ll wonder how we ever got along without them. Which ones will they be? Only time will tell.

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Are Maglev Trains the Future of US Transportation?

Maglev trains are already being touted as the next big thing in the transport industry. However, there are a couple of issues that are stopping it from taking flight in the first place. Whether MagLev trains become a reality or not is now largely in the hands of both the Congress and another supposedly cheaper and more efficient transport system dubbed the DesertXpress.

Whether or not MagLev trains become a reality, it is definitely no waste of time to know what they are all about. MagLev trains work on the principle of electromagnetic propulsion. Using magnetic principles, these trains differ from conventional steel wheel and track trains in the sense that they float over a guideway without making any contact with it. In the case of MagLev trains, the train is propelled using the magnetic field created by electrified coils in the guideway walls and the track.

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DoCoMo Working on Molecular Delivery of Communication with Mobile Phones

Japan’s DoCoMo is working on a molecular delivery of communication with mobile phones. This could not only mean download speeds increasing enormously, but could also potentially send medical data to emergency services, such as 911. According to InformationWeek:
Included in a mobile phone, the biochip could generate data and send it to medical specialists using standard wireless transmission techniques. In addition to health and environmental applications, DoCoMo suggested it also could have entertainment purposes: it could be used for long distance fortune telling.

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Via: Frog Blog

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Future of Civil GPS - L1C Team Explains New Signal Design

Most civil users probably don’t know this, but the primary — or only — GPS signals that their receivers employ for positioning are more than 30 years old. That is, the design of those signals came out of the engineering technology and signal processing techniques of the 1970s. Today, however, entirely new and richly improved GPS — and Galileo — signals at the L1 frequency await implementation, and when that occurs it will bring about a whole new world for consumer and commercial GNSS applications. Members of the L1C design team describe the proposed new signal design and its benefits in this paper.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nintendo 2008 - Mario Kart, Wii, Super Smash Bros, Brawl, WiiWare

After hinting that it would stagger its major releases in 2008 so that players could digest each one properly before moving onto the next, Nintendo went ahead to confirm that (in North America at least), Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit would arrive together in a proximity best described as an overdose in gaming goodness. But what of the rest of the year as far as the Wii is concerned? Nintendic has compiled a list of (mostly) what it knows Nintendo to have up its sleeve for the coming months, both for the core and casual audience, providing evidence as to why the motion-sensing console’s unstoppable momentum will continue throughout the year.

Mario Kart

Super Smash Bros. Brawl


Animal Crossing Wii

Disaster: Day of Crisis

Kirby Wii

Super Mario Stadium Family Baseball

Wii Music

Kid Icarus, Pilotwings, F-Zero, Punch Out!?

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Samsung, Toshiba Lead Electronics Cos' Race to Get Green - Greenpeace

Environmental group Green-peace recently came up with good news: two Asian consumer electronic companies figure at the top of the rankings in Greenpeace's Guide to Green Electronics.

The group first launched its guide in August 2006, as a challenge to electronic companies to "green" their products from production to disposal. The volume of toxic waste from production processes and management of waste and discarded products were points of concern in Greenpeace's guide. The group claimed that since the guide was launched, the world's leading consumer electronic brands have greatly improved in their policies on toxic chemicals and e-waste.

This year, Greenpeace has named Korea's Samsung and Japan's Toshiba as two Asian electronic companies that have shown great improvement in their production process to keep the world green. It said Samsung is consistent in its practices and policies, keeping the company's top ranking with a score of 7.7 out of 10. Toshiba climbed from sixth rank last year to join Samsung at the top by improving its score on electronic waste management. Greenpeace said Toshiba has taken care of its own branded discarded products.

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Digital Livingroom - Will Devices Drive Functionality or Vice Versa?

What will be the evolutionary path of the digital living room? Will devices drive functionality, or will it happen the other way around, where functionality dictates the design of devices? Speakers at the Future of Television conference disagreed.

"I think purpose-built devices for particular applications will have a shelf life," BitTorrent president Ashwin Navin said. "Eventually, applications will get incorporated into the boxes with the highest volume."

Eventually, Navin said, you'll see the traditional cable or satellite STB will disappear as well, as the applications it supports get distributed across different devices.

Anton Monk, CTO of the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) thinks network operators will still have a role in determining functionality on a home network.

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Future Trends in Wireless - Predictions, Applications, Challenges

Wireless Future Trends

This post @ the Future of Engineering Blog presents (hopefully) interesting web resources for the future trends in wireless.

Top Trends

The Top 10 Wireless Trends for 2008 -
1. Wireless networks will remain the domain of wireless operators
2. The first android phones hit the market
3. Cameraphones will get even fancier
4. Mobile ads will come to a cell phone screen near you
5. Wimax will become available
6. Openness will continue to dominate the wireless lexicon
7. Nokia will become a major mobile software player
8. Getting lost will get harder
9. More touchscreens
10. Silicon valley will become a wireless industry hot spot

The Seven Top Mobile and Wireless Trends for '07 -
1. More mobile access, more competition
2. The era of 'the big bundle'
3. The democratization of mobile e-mail
4. Search and discovery
5. Mobility gets social
6. Convergence: one phone, many places
7. Media, media, media

Top 10 Wireless Trends -
1. Wireless networks will remain the domain of wireless operators.
2. The first android (google's mobile platform) phones hit the market.
3. Cameraphones will get even fancier.
4. Mobile phone ads will come to a cell phone screen near you.
5. Wimax will become available.
6. Openness will continue to dominate the wireless lexicon.
7. Nokia will become a major mobile software player.
8. Getting lost will get harder.
9. More touchscreens.
10. Silicon valley will become a wireless industry hot spot.

5 Wireless Trends to Watch in 2008 - Wireless communication will see some drastic changes in 2008. The fcc (federal communications commission) will auction off a big chunk of spectrum, and new services will emerge using the existing spectrum. There will be wireless applications of technologies that aren't traditionally wireless, and wireless moves by companies that aren't traditionally in the wireless business. For those who need to know how all these changes will affect their use of wireless devices and applications, here are five trends to keep an eye on.

Nokia Unveils Future Trends in Mobile Tech - Nokia has unveiled plans for its next-generation mobile technology. It's not simply about mobile devices either; preference is also being given to operating systems and software. The plans were put forward at the 'the way we live next' event, an exclusive briefing at the nokia research center in oulu, finland’s northern technology hub.

Future Trends in Wireless and Mobile Communications - As reported in a recent bbc news article, wireless networks are spreading across the UK, with blanket 'wi-fi zones' being rolled out in nine urban centres across the country. But what do these advancements in technology actually mean for the average person in the street? Thankfully, the university of westminster's professor kambiz madani is on hand to explain all.

Future Trends in Wireless Communications - Tremendous changes are occurring in the area of wireless communications, so much so that the mobile phone of yesterday is rapidly turning into a sophisticated mobile device capable of more applications than pcs were capable of only a few years ago. For example, the data rates provided by the initial high speed downlink packet access (hsdpa) extension to 3g networks enable a user to wirelessly access the internet at speeds up to 1.8 mbits/second. Further enhancements in hsdpa modulation schemes will soon increase this speed to greater than 10mbits/second. So downloading your latest e-mails with a 5 mb powerpoint™ attachment outside of the office is no longer a frustrating and time-consuming exercise. In fact, it is just as fast as when you are in the office.


Wireless Future - Phones that get you into concerts, tell co-workers not to call now - or even display which friends are at a show. The next phase of the mobile revolution is about to begin

Generation Mobile - As regards what will drive future trends in mobile, it remains to be seen how big an impact user-generated content such as uploading photos, blogging etc will have. But what is certain is the mobile handset’s future as a web platform will be driven by consumer demand for continued innovation and 24/7 access to information. Industry experts and technologists alike tell us the mobile is becoming increasingly like the pc or laptop and that soon we will have the same functionality and computing power in our hands as we have on our desks. Yet customisation of most handsets goes only as far as changing ringtones or wallpaper and the installation of software is severely limited and locked into the handset manufacturer, something which would not be tolerated on a desktop or laptop. This is slowly changing with the release of software developer kits (sdks) by both apple and google.

The Future - How Wireless Communications will Evolve Over the Next 20 Years - Professor William Webb is Ofcom’s head of research and development and senior technologist where he manages a team providing technical advice and performing research across all areas of its regulatory remit. He predicts how the next 20 years will see a very substantial, but steady change in the way we live. Webb points out that little new technology is needed to make us rely heavily on a single device that will manage all our professional and personal communications needs. This evolution will be based on massively enhanced services, turning the mobile phone into an organiser, entertainment device, payment device, security centre and much more. To make this happen webb predicts that one of the greatest changes is that broadcasting and communications will become a seamless network so that any content is available through any channel at any time. He also highlights the areas which will witness significant growth while predicting areas which won’t be so successful in the future.

Mobile Phones May Lead the Charge Out of Our Wire-mired World - Wouldn’t a wireless world be a wonderful thing? The light seems to be shining at the end of the tunnel. We’ve already got cord-free with our phones, remote controls, video game controls and numerous other devices. So what’s with the wires that continue to mire the backs of our tvs, vcrs, stereos and the other things that have become essential parts of our entertainment centers

The Future of Wireless - Wireless network technology may have an impact over the next two years: 802.16, better known as wimax. This technology supports speeds as high as 70mbps and a range of up to 48 kilometres, making it ideal for large corporate campuses and rural areas where cable and dsl broadband service aren't widely available. Intel says that it will begin shipping chips with wimax technology in the second half of this year

The Ultrafast Future of Wireless - Researchers at the university of utah have found a way to control terahertz radiation with more precision than ever before, potentially laying the foundation for a new breed of wireless devices that can take advantage of the previously untapped frequencies. Although still years from commercialization, routers and receivers that use terahertz radiation--which technically ranges from about 100 gigahertz to 10 terahertz--could eventually pack more data onto airwaves, speeding up wireless internet links a thousand times, says ajay nahata, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who led the research

Wi-fi and the Future of Wireless - What started a century ago with marconi's radio and became the now ubiquitous cellphone is now taking shape around a two-way radio technology called wi-fi (short for "wireless fidelity"). It promises to unplug more communications devices by making the internet available just about everywhere and letting people talk to each other more easily than ever before.

Wireless Apps

Future Trends in Miniaturization for Wireless Applications (PDF) - The future of miniaturization of wireless networks is described from the viewpoint of today’s trends in miniaturization, such as microelectromechanical systems and nanotechnology, along with the move away from computer processing–centric systems to distributed networks. The complexity, convergence of technologies, and connectivity of the remote wireless sensor known as the “mote” are discussed in relation to distributed networks. The growth of this technology is compared with growth predicted by moore’s law, which charts a linear progression of technology such as size of a resistor, as well as by the technology S-curve, which charts a logarithmic growth such as that seen by the internet. We show That growth in the number of applications for motes is likely to more closely follow the predictions Of the s-curve. The capabilities of this technology, in terms of functionality, have The potential for the log-linear growth experienced in the modern microcircuit world.

Smartphones Emerge as Future of Wireless - Smartphones, with features such as a voice, contact, appointment, web browsing and e-mail functionality used to be purchased mainly by business people. That's changing rapidly. Manufacturers are now marketing their smarter, full-function handsets to regular consumers and are realizing that the demand is going to be high.

Wireless Future: Ubiquitous Computing (PDF) - Over the last 30 years, we have seen the power of microprocessors double about every 18 months. An equally rapid increase applies to some other technological parameters such as storage capacity and communications bandwidth. This continuing trend means that computers will Become considerably smaller, cheaper, and more abundant – they are becoming ubiquitous, and are even finding their way into everyday objects. This is resulting in the creation of “smart” things that can access the internet and its varied resources, and maybe even cooperate with each other. Mobile phones are a forerunner in this technological field – they are now true computers equipped with a whole range of functionality and may well develop into control centers for a multitude of other personal auxiliary services

Microscopic Radio Hints at Future of Wireless Comms - Us researchers have created a radio using carbon nanotubes so tiny it can fit on a grain of sand, showing how nanotubes could soon be used to make more efficient electronic devices. Professor of materials science and engineering at the university of illinois, tim rodgers, who led the researchers said: "our radio is unique in that it uses nanotube-based transistors for all of the active components of the device, from the resonant antenna to the rf amplifiers, rf mixers and even the audio amplifier." headphones can then be connected directly to the output of a nanotube transistor, he added.

Wizard of the Wireless Future - Jeff hawkins created the first palm pilot (PLMO) digital organizer and then went on to create the handspring visor line as well as the popular new treo 600 combination cell phone, e-mail device, and organizer. His new book, on intelligence, explores the structure of the human brain and how that understanding will help create a new breed of truly intelligent machines. He recently spoke with businessweek correspondent cliff edwards about convergence, the state of innovation in silicon valley, and the technological advances that are exciting to him.

Problems & Challenges

Wireless Hotspots: Current Challenges and Future Directions (PDF) -
In recent years, wireless internet service providers (wisps) established wi-fi hotspots in increasing numbers at public venues, providing local coverage to traveling users and empowering them with the ability to access email, web, and other internet applications
on the move. In this paper, we observe that while the mobile computing landscape has changed both in terms of number and type of hotspot venues, there are several technological and deployment challenges remaining before hotspots can become an ubiquitous
infrastructure. These challenges include authentication, security, coverage, management, location services, billing, and interoperability. We discuss existing research, the work of standards bodies, and the experience of commercial hotspot providers in these areas,
and then describe compelling open research questions that remain.


Telematics Heralds Self-driving Car - Marc de Jong, NXP Semiconductors

Integration of consumer devices is one of the major growth trends in automotive electronics, with telematics as a close second. Both technologies pose significant challenges to electronics designers and at the same time open interesting perspectives for OEMs, tier ones, service providers " and drivers.

At the recent Euroforum Automotive Electronics congress in Munich, EE Times Europe discussed perspectives and obstacles with Marc de Jong, executive vice president and general manager, automotive & identification, NXP Semiconductors.

According to him, "Telematics is one of the hottest topics in automotive at the moment. There are enormous perspectives, and in the end – and now I am making a dangerous statement – a vision could be a self-driving car. If you extrapolate the technological developments you will see that it is about moving away from you and me driving a car and being focused on the road and concentrate on driving towards a situation where you will be spending less energy on driving and more having time to communicate and interact by phone and internet, interact with passengers in the car and enjoy the ride. It is this vision that is behind telematics"

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Unified Communications, Network Security Key Networking Trends in 2008

New technologies and practices are sure to impact the network and the VARs that offer networking gear in 2008. Advancements in unified communications, network security, green networking and the addition of an Ethernet switch from a vendor that has yet to offer one, will have the channel reeling with potential. According to Yankee Group senior vice president Zeus Kerravala, a former reseller himself, 2008 will be a big year.

Here are some key trends to expect in the coming year:
1. Unified Communications
2. Network Security...

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DARPA's UNIC Program for Sun - Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communication

Sun Microsystems, Inc. has been awarded $44.29 million funding for a five and a half-year research project focused on microchip interconnectivity via on-chip optical networks enabled by Silicon photonics and proximity communication. Part of DARPA's Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communication program, the project commences with an incremental delivery of $8.1 million to Sun Microsystems' Microelectronics and Laboratories divisions

Building on research done under DARPA's High Productivity Computing Systems program, Sun's new project will accelerate the development of lower cost, high performance and high productivity systems. The project presents a unique opportunity to develop supercomputers through interconnecting an array of low-cost chips, with the potential to overcome the fundamental cost and performance limits of scaling up today's large computer systems

"DARPA's UNIC (Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communications) program will demonstrate high performance photonic technology for high bandwidth, on-chip, photonic communications networks for advanced (≥ 10 trillion operations/second) microprocessors. By restoring the balance between computation and communications, the program will significantly enhance DoD's capabilities for applications such as Image Processing, Autonomous Operations, Synthetic Aperture Radar, as well as supercomputing," said Dr. Jag Shah, program manager in DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Very Small Microchip To Aid in Future Disease Diagnosis

A tiny, highly sensitive device that could give medics a head start in testing for a range of diseases is being developed by engineers at the University of Leeds. The Leeds device is more than ten times smaller than existing models while offering the accuracy and sensitivity required for clinical diagnostics - and the researchers believe the technology could allow them to reduce the size much further still.

The inventors used an array of electrodes as the base of their device rather than the conventional glass slide. The individual electrodes are created using the same technology used to produce modern microchips, so are very small and very closely spaced.

Conventional techniques use antibodies as receptors on their sensors to bind to the target proteins – but these are not very stable when attached to a sensor and tend to lose their specificity. So the developers created an artificial robust antibody called a ‘peptide aptamer’ that is so stable that it can be attached to the electrodes and still bind to a specific target protein.

Full report here

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Microchip Could Aid In Future Disease Diagnosis

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ecoNEW Program Recycles / Resells Electronic Waste, E-waste to Cash

Leave it to the gadget industry to turn concern over electronic waste into a sales opportunity. Simply put, they're offering to buy back old devices to recycle or resell, in return for cash or in-store credit.

Coming to consumer electronic retailers nationwide this spring is the ecoNEW program from NEW Customer Service Cos., the company that provides extended warranty plans and protection programs for such retailers as Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

Under the program, consumers can return any electronics products they own to participating retailers (which have not yet been announced) -- even if they weren't purchased at the store. In return they'll receive an in-store credit gift card for a predetermined amount based on the type and condition of the device. EcoNEW handles all the collection and evaluation details and issues the gift cards directly.

Full report here

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Telematics Heralds Self-driving Car

Integration of consumer devices is one of the major growth trends in automotive electronics, with telematics as a close second. Both technologies pose significant challenges to electronics designers and at the same time open interesting perspectives for OEMs, tier ones, service providers and drivers.

At the recent Euroforum Automotive Electronics congress in Munich, EE Times Europe discussed perspectives and obstacles with Marc de Jong, executive vice president and general manager, automotive & identification, NXP Semiconductors.

Full details of the discussion here

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Transportation Communications Newsletter

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Nanochip Flash Memory Tech Breaks Moore's Law

Nanochip's new flash memory technology applies to USB drives, solid-state disk drives, and even enterprise servers. A new kind of flash memory technology with potentially greater capacity and durability, lower power requirements, and the same design as flash NAND is primed to challenge today's solid-state disk products.

Fremont, Calif.-based Nanochip said it has made breakthroughs in its array-based memory research that will enable it to deliver working prototypes to potential manufacturing partners next year. Three investors, including Intel Capital, recently put $14 million into the company, which has been developing the technology since its founding in 1996.

"It's a technology that doesn't depend on Moore's Law," says Gordon Knight, CEO of Nanochip. "This technology should go at least 10 generations."

Full report from here

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Photonic technology boosts microwave signals

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have investigated the possibility of using fibre optic technology to generate and distribute microwave signals in future wireless networks. This technology is important to meet the increase in demand for mobility and high data rates. Using optical fibre for the distribution of microwave signals has several benefits compared to using electrical cables. Optical fibre has low loss and frequency-independent attenuation. It is also insensitive to electromagnetic interference, low in weight, small in size and low in cost.

In a new PhD thesis by Andreas Wiberg at the Photonics Laboratory at Chalmers, research is presented which deals with optical generation, modulation and distribution of signals in micro- and millimetre-wave applications. The results obtained include demonstrations of transportation of 40 GHz signals over 44 km of optical fibre modulated with 2.5 Gbit/s data, transmitted through a wireless link in a laboratory environment.

Full report here


Wireless Home Automation Wakes Up

ZigBee and other wireless home automation technologies have zigged and zagged in recent years as they've struggled to achieve success, but the future appears more straightforward, says an ABI Research study. Standard-based technologies such as ZigBee and Z-Wave are removing past market constraints, according to ABI.

Four years ago, ABI predicted huge success for the leading wireless home automation standard, ZigBee. The market has yet to awaken, however. The obstacles to success, says ABI, have included the expense of luxury custom-installed systems, and the unreliability of low-end DIY products using older technologies, such as powerline-based X10 set-ups.

According to ABI, two trends are sparking renewed interest in the technologies: reduced prices, and the debut of managed services offered by broadband and telco service providers.

Full report here

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Wireless home automation wakes up

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What's in Store Next for the Games Fans?

If you are a gaming fan, you might be justified in feeling that you are living in the best of times.

There are many who believe that we are at the threshold of paradigm shifts in gaming, with consoles and PCs coming with extra-ordinarily powerful processors and with concepts such as social gaming expected to take gaming to a different level.

Ray Kurzweil, renowned inventor and futurist, believes that games are driving much of the innovation happening in the world today - don't be surprised if virtual reality becomes real reality in 20 years.

The next-gen consoles — Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 — inspired a bumper crop of innovative new games in 2007. And games were the bright spot in an otherwise dreary holiday retail season, with revenues of $4.82 billion in December 2007 alone.

Some broad expectations for gaming during in the next 5-10 years include: Source: MSNBC

1. Wii games will enter mass market. The assumption earlier was that gamers would want to figure out complicated button combinations on their PlayStation controller. But that’s no longer a safe assumption. Expect games to be more easy to play and developed for a more mass audience.

2. Creating community - Gamers have definitely evolved since the early days. With the high-speed Internet connections that are so cheap now, everybody is online, and they want the online community aspects to their games. Expect social games as much as individual games.

3. Downloadable content - the most important thing for the industry in a broad sense. It allows for a relatively small portion of a fan base to support a product in a way that it could never have been supported before. Expect more niche games that will never remotely get the volumes that popular games today get and still can make a profit!

Other predictions and opinions on where the gaming domain is going:

Mobile & Wireless Gaming - Mind the Road, Son!

Is Wii the future of gaming? - asks this post @ Game Devotion. Virtual Reality is a widely discussed topic. Gaming Companies have to try and switch over to the Future. The reason for the Success of the Wii is not its Graphic abilities but the way we interact with the game, the way we actually GET INTO the game. Nintendo realized this and made big bucks and therefore the Wii is the highest sold Next-Gen Console!

Two mobile publishers are branching out into DS and Xbox 360 development. What does this pattern mean for the games industry as a whole? Does it mean that the mobile games almost 'there', asks this post

Namco Networks says casual games will be the future of mobile gaming

And while on mobiles, this is the take of an expert on iPhone games. The best way for Apple's iPhone to get in on the gaming market is to develop a popular game, says he. Hmmm...that's really saying the obvious, isn't it?

Gaming Gets Social (Too)

The God of Gaming Shigeru Miyamoto thinks housewives (gasp!) are the future of gaming...well, he should be knowing!

Of course nobody knows for sure what the future of human interfaces and gaming will look like, but Andrew Fentem—who went from working on classified missile systems to developing multi-touch human interfaces, kinetic surfaces and motion sensing technologies before almost anyone else in the planet—gave us a fascinating vision on where we are headed in this exclusive interview.

Fun is an experience best shared. Exhilaration, elation and excitement, too. And so it goes that Social Gaming intertwines those things, while the Internet extends them on a global scale, and so the future must belong to social gaming, right? And here's another interesting take on the social gaming future...The future of connected gaming is local, not global, says this post. So you will be looking forward more to beating your friends, not the world!

PC Gaming - Bigger & Better or End of an Era?

Cliff Bleszinski, the lead designer at Epic Games, better known as CliffyB, has recently made some comments critiquing PC gaming. Is Cliff Bleszinski right or wrong in his predictions? Is PC gaming becoming a thing of the past? Are the new console games like PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 going to be the new future in gaming? Won't it be great to have the crystal ball right in front of us!

There is someone who might not agree with Cliff though. According to Wild Tangent CEO Alex St. John, PCs make better platforms for games than even the consoles, but "the shame of it is, the PC's a fantastic gaming platform, superior to anything anybody's every imagined, superior to every console, and Microsoft and Intel put crap in the PC that make it not so good. And so if you see a PC that is not denuded by things interfering with it by Microsoft and Intel, in many cases like an Intel crappy graphics chip, or a bloated Vista operating system, it's a fantastic gaming platform"...hmmm

Based on the progress associated with Moore’s Law and nanotech, futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that advances in electronics will continue, with shrinkage/performance advancing 100,000-fold in the next 25 years. That, of course, means that graphics and everything associated with gaming will become far better. It means that we’ll be putting little electronic devices inside our blood streams, extending our life spans, and thereby necessitating longer video games.

And Just Where's the Money, Honey?

Or is the future of gaming "Free"? muses http://www.thebbps.com/blog/2008/02/29/behold-the-true-future-of-gaming/ - The Battlefield series is immensely popular, so there’s a built in audience. Offering the game for free is going to draw in a huge number of people to at least try it out. This is the future of gaming, this is where it’s all heading.

You got to mention Gamasutra at least once while you are discussing games, and so here it is. On the issue business model for making moolah, Gamasutra feels in this article that microtransactions could drive gaming in the future

And can you afford to forget China either, whatever you do and wherever you are? The future of on-line gaming might be in China, says this post. "A recent study details the way in which the Chinese on-line game market is developing and provides a few very interesting numbers regarding money spent on games. The highlight of the Pearl Research study is the statement that in 2010, the Chinese on-line game market will be worth 3 billion dollars."

So there you are. If you are a gaming fan, just tighten your virtual seatbelts and get set for the thrill ride - the takeoff is fast approaching.

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IBM Predicts Five Future Trends That Will Drive Unified Communications

IBM predicted five future trends that will increase demand for the fast-growing unified communications market and reshape the way businesses and workers communicate and collaborate worldwide.

The predictions, made in a keynote address by Mike Rhodin, General Manager of IBM Lotus software, at the VoiceCon conference here, include:

1) The Virtual Workplace will become the rule. No need to leave the office. Just bring it along.

2) Instant Messaging and other real-time collaboration tools will become the norm, bypassing e-mail.

3) Beyond Phone Calls to Collaborative Business Processes. Companies will go beyond the initial capabilities of IM to deep integration with business processes and line-of-business applications.

4) Interoperability and Open Standards will tear down proprietary walls across business and public domains.

5) New meeting models will emerge. Hang up on routine, calendared conference calls. 3-D virtual world and gaming technologies will significantly influence online corporate meeting experiences to deliver more life-like experiences.

IDC estimates the unified communications market will reach $17 billion in worldwide revenue in 2011, growing at 38 percent compounded annually from 2007. As such, IBM sees unified communications as the next significant frontier for technology growth. To meet these demands, IBM is investing significantly in a range of resources, including software, services and research.

Part of this investment also covers a significant expansion of IBM Lotus Sametime software products. Work has also begun on blending IBM's social software expertise into the real-time environment.


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IBM Predicts Five Future Trends That Will Drive Unified Communications

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

US Schools Relying More on Robots for Teaching

Several Tucson(Arizona)-area schools are relying on robots to help teach students math and science principles, computer skills, engineering, teamwork and leadership.

Schools with robotics teams have transformed the after-school activity into a part of the school's curriculum by creating science and computer elective classes that teach robotics, while other schools have integrated robotics into regular science classes.

Full story here

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Nokia Nanotech Phone Concept

Mobile handset giant Nokia has given the first glimpses of the research it is doing in collaboration with the University of Cambridge when it unveiled a shape changing mobile device concept based on nanotechnology.

Dubbed Morph, the joint nanotechnology concept was designed to demonstrate the possible future benefits of nanotechnology for mobile devices. Morph is both stretchable and flexible, but Nokia suggests nanotechnology could also allow future mobile phones to include self-cleaning surfaces and see-through electronics.

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Ubuntu Mobile - A Guide to the Future of Mobile Internet

One of the fastest growing areas of cell phone development at the current time is in the area of mobile Internet connectivity. Unfortunately, the developments in this area have been limited so far; the mobile Internet just doesn’t look a whole lot like the Web 2.0 environment that you have gotten used to using. The limitations of handheld devices in terms of online media entertainment and mobile web page development have made it so that the online experience that you currently may have on your mobile phone differs considerably from that which you are accustomed to using on your full-sized laptop or your desktop computer. This is starting to change and Ubuntu Mobile is a leader in that changing world. Using a Linux-based operating system, Ubuntu Mobile aims to bring the full Internet experience to handheld mobile devices.

Learn more about Ubuntu Mobile from this comprehensive resource page

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Mobile Security - Biggest Challenges

Former White House Cyber Security Adviser Howard Schmidt was asked to detail the biggest challenges a company or organization might face in mobile security. He said the biggest hurdle is in convincing leaders how important mobile security is to their organization. Beyond that, companies need to retune and restructure their organization to tie security into the day-to-day operations of the business, he said. And finally, consumers must understand the level of responsibility they carry as well.

Any company looking to further protect its mobile data should look at five components, he said: engineering and architecture, day-to-day operations, education and awareness, ability to investigate and the data connection source.

Full report here

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Social Networking Wireless Monitoring - RFID Ecosystem Project

If you are searching for some information, there is of course Google. But if you’re hunting down a person, a computer is not much help. This may soon change, thanks to some experiments being conducted at universities in the US that explore the concept of trackable humans.

Walk around the University of Washington's (UW) computer science building and eventually you will cross paths with a researcher whose every movement is tracked by computer. Two hundred RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) antennas have been fitted into the ceilings, and individuals taking part in the trial wear RFID tags round their necks and on their possessions. Volunteers will wear electronic tags on their clothing and belongings, enabling RFID readers to monitor their whereabouts. Their location is followed in real time, but unlike many Orwellian deployments of such technology - where hidden overseers know what we're all doing, but individuals don't - each participant in the RFID Ecosystem can also access the data

This social networking+RFID pilot project has commenced in March, 2008 at the University. The RFID Ecosystem project will provide long-term, in-depth research of user-centered RFID systems in relation to fields such as society and technology.

"What if RFID readers were everywhere, and everything had RFID tags? What are the pluses and minuses? What do you do with all that data?" asks Gaetano Borriello, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University. One of the main questions this research faces is whether or not the utility aspect of this monitoring system outweighs the participants' potential loss of privacy.

Two additional features are being tested in this project; the first is a tool that records the volunteer's movements in Google Calendar; the second is the RFIDder – a friend finder that sends e-mails or text messages to approved people indicating the whereabouts of their monitored friends. In addition, the system links to Twitter.

More information about the RFID Ecosystem project can be found on the RFID section of UW here and the project news page.


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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tomorrow's Clever Cars - Auto Technology in Future

The average new car coming off the production line today has the same amount of electronic systems as a commercial airliner did two decades ago. Hard to accept perhaps, but true if auto-makers are to be believed.

Growth in automotive embedded systems (software and electronics) has been exponential since the early 1990s and the trend is predicted to continue. In 2002, electronic parts comprised 25 percent of a vehicle’s value – by 2015, car manufacturers predict this will hit 40 percent.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Home Cinema Screens - what are the trends?

Home Cinema Screens - what are the trends?

With growing interest in high definition and larger displays, the home cinema projector market is hotting up. But there is no point in having a great projector if the screen and environment lets it down, and not everyone has the luxury of a spare room that can be dedicated to a home theatre. In order to make the most of the projector and the room it finds itself in, an ordinary screen will often not do, and how it looks aesthetically can be as important as how it performs technically.

To find out how the custom install industry is responding to these challenges, Hidden Wires asked a number of manufacturers, suppliers and installers what the trends are in terms of projection screens, and what recent innovations in the residential market they think are important. Here are their replies.

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Nokia Tinkers With Morphing Phone Concept

Imagine what you'd get if you crossed Gumby with a smartphone, and you've got some idea of what a new, nanotech handset from Nokia could be like.

The new nanotech mobile called Morph, which was jointly developed by the Nokia Research Center and the University of Cambridge in England, is a bendable, flexible and stretchable device that can be folded into pocket size and used as a handset, or unfolded and opened up to display more detailed information. Users could fold or unfold the device to suit their immediate purpose, whether it's to talk on the phone or use input devices such as keyboards or touch pads. Even the electronics integrated into the device, from interconnects to sensors, would be flexible. (Nanotech's use in mobiles is fast on the rise and a study estimates that the nanotech components for mobiles market could be a 15 billion $ market by 2012)

The Morph was unveiled recently as part of the "Design and the Elastic Mind" exhibition that runs through May 12 at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

How's this morphing structure produced? Nokia's technology uses Fibril proteins (but biodegradable materials could also be used in future) woven into a 3-D mesh that reinforces thin elastic structures. The resulting elasticity enables the devices to change shapes and configure themselves to adapt to the task at hand.

Morphing phones are not exactly new. Design firm Alloy exhibited its Polygon morphing phone as early as June 2006. But morphing mobiles have seen significant acceleration in the past few months.

Nokia's Morph is also seen as a part of a broader ongoing trend toward transformable devices. Other product trends in a similar direction are Motorola's Rokr E8 (a nice review here), Polymer Vision's Readius, Modu Phones from an Israeli company, and BenQ S670C.

Read more on these morphing mobiles from the following news reports: Tech News World, Rediff, PocketLink

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Top Wireless Trends for 2008 - Mobile Broadband, Environmental Sustainability

Top wireless industry trends for 2008

A delegate to the 2008 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona says that the key themes focused on by industry leaders are faster mobile broadband speeds and the environmental sustainability of the mobile industry.

"This year many keynote speakers at the Mobile World Congress are pointing to the need to green the industry and to maximise on the opportunities of increased mobile broadband speeds. Both trends are good for business and the consumer," says Richard Simpson, director at BulkSMS.com, a global mobile messaging company headquartered in Cape Town.

More from here

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First Impressions on CTIA
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Microchips with Antennas, Electronic Sniffers, Smart Homes - Future of RFID?

The following are some of the "visions" offered for the uses and applications of RFID.

• Microchips with antennas will be embedded in virtually everything people buy, wear, drive and read, enabling retailers and law enforcement agencies to track consumer items—and, by extension, consumers—wherever they go, from a distance.

• A seamless, global network of electronic "sniffers" will scan radio tags in myriad public settings, identifying people and their tastes instantly so that customized ads—"live spam"—will be able to be beamed at them.

• In "Smart Homes," sensors built into walls, floors and appliances will inventory possessions, record eating habits and monitor medicine cabinets—all the while, silently reporting data to marketers eager for a peek into the occupants' private lives.

More from here

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New PRACE website goes alive

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RFID Security Expert Shows How to Steal Credit Cards Hands-free

Adam Laurie, an RFID security expert, used the Black Hat DC 2008 conference to demonstrate a new Python script he's working on to read the contents of smart-chip-enabled credit cards.

As part of his presentation Wednesday, Laurie asked for someone from the audience to volunteer a smart card. Without taking the card out of the volunteer's wallet, Laurie both read and displayed its contents on the presentation screen--the person's name, account number, and expiration clearly visible.

Demonstrations like that show the potential misuse of RFID technology in the near future. Without touching someone, a thief could sniff the contents of an RFID-enabled credit card just in passing. The same is true for embedded RFID chips in the human body, work access badges, some public transit cards, and even the new passports in use in more than 45 countries.

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GaAs, GaN, SiGe, InP - RF Semiconductors Take Various Forms

As wireless technologies push semiconductors to integrate more features in smaller packages, government and satellite research is testing novel processes in extreme temperatures and performance scenarios.

At the roots of almost all of today’s electronic devices lie semiconductors. These integrated circuits (ICs) stem from a variety of semiconductor technologies, which have evolved to satisfy requirements like lower power, less noise, more broadband coverage, or simply the need to squeeze higher integration into smaller, cheaper packages. In reaction to these trends, high-frequency engineers have found new ways to leverage gallium arsenide (GaAs), gallium nitride (GaN), silicon germanium (SiGe), indium phosphide (InP), and other semiconductor process technologies. As these technologies have evolved, however, they have not eliminated the more standard technologies like complementary-metaloxide- semiconductor (CMOS) processes. Instead, process enhancements and advances in optolithography are enabling smaller feature sizes and making CMOS and other technologies capable of tackling new and more demanding applications. The result is a myriad of semiconductors that can serve all aspects of the high-frequency market ranging from the most demanding military and satellite applications to access points for IEEE 802.11x wireless local-area networks (WLANs).

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Smart Textiles, Wearable Devices - Sensors Make Clothes Clever

Clever clothes in a smart world

Pretty soon your gym gear will be more high tech than the groaning treadmill beneath you. Smart textiles and wearable devices can monitor your vital signs as you go about daily life. These clever clothes already exist and look set to find a market niche especially in elite sport and healthcare, say European researchers.

Tiny sensors woven into the fabric collect information about the wearer’s vital signs (respiration, heart rate, surface and core temperature) and movement, which can be monitored remotely using embedded GPRS transmitters.

Full story here

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AirPatrol New Wireless Intrusion Detection Sniffs Out Wi-Fi, Cellular Networks

AirPatrol sniffs out trouble on Wi-Fi, cellular networks

AirPatrol is a company that made its name in wireless intrusion detection. Now the company is introducing its own branded product line, called WiVision, openly competing with enterprise network rivals. AirPatrol's new wireless intrusion detection/prevention systems adds two features intended to mark it out. One is software algorithms for location tracking, to identify where a radio is. The other, new with this product release, is integration with Check Point Software's firewalls at the network's edge and core, to block traffic from that radio based on its IP address.

Full story here

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Monday, February 18, 2008

LED Adds 'Cool Factor' in Car Design - Light Emitting Diodes Have Bright Future

Glowing appeal: In car design, energy use, LEDs add 'cool factor'

February 18, 2008

Bright little lights, known as Light Emitting Diodes, are changing the face of autos, inside and out, designers and engineers say.

Once a beacon for the plush interiors of Lexus, Mercedes and Cadillac, LEDs have made their way into daily drivers such as the Ford Focus and Chevy Malibu, and certainly will make their way into more. Interior and exterior designers love the little light bulbs and are finding new ways to use them.

Recent advances in LED technology and continued price drops mean LEDs will play a more important role in future designs. Consumers will reap the benefits, finding more extravagant light shows inside future vehicles and flashier exteriors as the luxury lighting source goes mainstream.

Full story here

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

A More Secure Internet Envisioned by Princeton Researchers

Princeton researchers envision a more secure Internet

Like human society itself, the world's Internet is wondrously complex, both spectacularly fertile, deeply flawed & highly insecure.

Just how can such a complex a system be made more secure? Some of the most influential thinkers on this question sit just a few dozen steps away from each other in the engineering complex on the Princeton campus: Edward Felten, director of the Center for Information Technology Policy, focuses on software and policy; Ruby Lee heads the Princeton Architecture Lab for Multimedia and Security; and Larry Peterson and Jennifer Rexford are key players in the Global Environment for Network Innovation.

While these researchers may be physically proximate, their unique visions on how to best ensure cybersecurity can seem worlds apart. What follows in this article are portraits of these pathfinders at the frontiers of security research.

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Nokia N95 phone with GPS Turns People into Traffic Sensors

Nokia turns people into traffic sensors

With media and VIPs from companies like Nokia, Navteq, General Motors, BMW, and CalTrans looking on, wave after wave of students left a parking lot to drive a 10-mile stretch of the nearby 880 freeway as part of a large-scale experiment to test how cell phones can monitor and predict traffic. The test, conducted recently, was put on by the California Center for Innovative Transportation (CCIT) as a joint project between Nokia, CalTrans, and Berkeley's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Each student car was issued a Nokia N95 phone with GPS and special traffic-monitoring software developed by Nokia's Palo Alto, Calif.-based research lab--plus a Bluetooth headset. As the students drove the freeway, the phone sent data about each car's speed and position back to the company's research facility. The data is compiled and used to predict traffic patterns and help drivers get where they need to be quickly. Nokia hopes that one day the system could be a significantly cheaper way to track traffic than the permanent sensors installed in roadways or next to them because it uses equipment most people already own: cell phones.

Full story here

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Copper Pillars to Replace Solder Balls in Motherboards

Copper Pillars Poised to Replace Solders

As computers become more complex, the demand increases for more connections between computer chips and external circuitry such as a motherboard or wireless card. And as the integrated circuits become more advanced, maximizing their performance requires better connections that operate at higher frequencies with less loss.

Improving these two types of connections will increase the amount and speed of information that can be sent throughout a computer. The vertical connections between chips and boards are currently formed by melting tin solder between the two pieces and adding glue to hold everything together. Kohl’s research shows that replacing the solder ball connections with copper pillars creates stronger connections and the ability to create more connections.

Full story here

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Litroenergy & Litrospheres Take Top Prize in Design Contest

Energy-Saving Material Takes Top Prize in Design Contest

Litroenergy, a patent-pending designed material that emits light for more than a decade without electricity or sun exposure, has won the $20,000 grand prize in the 2007 Create the Future Design Contest sponsored by NASA Tech Briefs magazine and SolidWorks Corporation (www.solidworks.com).

Developed by Steve Stark, a design engineer from Champlin, MN, Litroenergy employs self-luminous micro particles called Litrospheres to emit light for 12 or more years without exposure to any external energy source. The relatively inexpensive material, which can be injection-molded or added to paint, could save billions of dollars in energy costs if it achieves widespread commercial adoption.

Full report here

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Polyset Epoxy Siloxane (PES) Polymer Aims to Streamline Chip Fabs

Polymer aims to streamline chip fabs

A cheaper, quicker-curing polymer aims to lower the cost and improve the efficiency of fabricating semiconductors, according to researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Working with materials experts at Polyset Company Inc. (Mechanicville, New York), the new formulation of polyset epoxy siloxane (PES) could enhance semiconductor performance for conventional photolithography, as well as ease the transition to nanoimprint lithography.

Full report here

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Biomedical Energy Harvester Recharge your Mobile from Walk

A brisk walk might soon help bring a dead battery in a cellphone back to life. Researchers have developed a new device that will allow a person to generate electricity while walking. A team of engineers from three universities in Canada and the US has developed a biomedical energy harvester worn on the knees that turns the mechanical energy of human muscles into electricity.

In experiments, volunteers who walked with one prototype device on each knee generated about 5 watts of electricity — sufficient to power 10 typical cellphones simultaneously.

Full report here

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Has Thane Heins Created a Perpetual Motion Machine?

Turning physics on its ear

It all began back in 1985, when Thane Heins started thinking about how magnets could be used to improve power generators. Has this college dropout done the impossible and created a perpetual motion machine?

Thane Heins is nervous and hopeful. It's Jan. 24, 2008, and in four days the Ottawa-area native will travel to Boston where he'll demonstrate an invention that appears – though he doesn't dare say it – to operate as a perpetual motion machine.

The audience, esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Markus Zahn, could either deflate Heins' heretical claims or add momentum to a 20-year obsession that has broken up his marriage and lost him custody of his two young daughters.

Full story here

Update: Heins a couple of days back demonstrated his machine to MIT professor Markus Zahn, an expert in electromagnetic and electronic systems. It proved interesting enough to stump the professor, as well. But Zahn thinks the idea is worth investigating further. "It's an unusual phenomena I wouldn't have predicted in advance," Zahn told The Toronto Star. "But I saw it. It's real."...so there!

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Wireless Impact Guardian - A Helmet that Makes Phone Calls

A Helmet that Can Make a Phone Call

Brycen Spencer designed a safety helmet that offers more than just protection. He’s nicknamed it “the OnStar of Helmets.” His Wireless Impact Guardian, or WIG, will call 911 in an accident.

Spencer's WIG could be a boon for recreational athletes, especially those venturing into remote areas. There were 113,900 ATV injuries requiring emergency room treatment in 2002. The US Consumer Product Safety Council estimates that ATV crashes cost society a total of $6.5 billion in medical, legal, and work-loss expenses every year.

“The WIG will be activated when you buckle it on,” Spencer said “Then, say you fall and hit your head, the helmet will detect that. At this point it will beep for a minute or so. If you don’t turn it off, WIG sends for help, either directly to 911 or to a third-party service that relays the emergency call to 911. And with that message will be a GPS location giving your geographical coordinates so the emergency team knows precisely where you are.”

Full story here

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U.S. Army's "Mobile Backbone" Tactical Communications Network

U.S. Army previews future network's revolutionary "mobile backbone"

The US Army conducted an engineering field test of its future tactical communications network here in Oct. 2007 and demonstrated a new mode of combat communications with a "mobile backbone" .

Demonstrated were the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 engineering models being developed to allow brigade, battalion and company key leaders to continue to collaborate and exchange information using Internet-based voice, video and data technologies whether their combat formations are moving or halted.

Such a system would differ significantly from any currently used in the Army.

Full report here