Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Home Internet May Get Even Faster in South Korea

The New York Times has a post on how South Korea, which already claims the world’s fastest Internet connections, now seeks to go even speed:

By the end of 2012, South Korea intends to connect every home in the country to the Internet at one gigabit per second. That would be a tenfold increase from the already blazing national standard and more than 200 times as fast as the average household setup in the United States. 

A pilot gigabit project initiated by the government is under way, with 1,500 households in five South Korean cities wired. Each customer pays about 30,000 won a month, or less than $27.“South Korean homes now have greater Internet access than we do,” President Obama said in his State of the Union address last month. Last week, Mr. Obama unveiled an $18.7 billion broadband spending program. 

While Americans are clip-clopping along, trailing the Latvians and the Romanians in terms of Internet speed, the South Koreans are at a full gallop. Their average Internet connections are far faster than even No. 2 Hong Kong and No. 3 Japan, according to the Internet analyst Akamai Technologies.

Read more at - 'Home Internet May Get Even Faster in South Korea'


Monday, March 28, 2011

Mind control puts you in charge of driverless cars

New Scientist has a post on the prospect of driverless cars using the power of the human mind:

In a step beyond the plans laid by DARPA and Google to create cars that drive themselves, engineers led by Raul Rojas at the Free University of Berlin in Germany have developed a largely autonomous car whose speed and direction can be the driver's thoughts. Why do this, you may well ask? Well, imagine your autonomous taxi of the future (think of the Johnny Cabs in Total Recall) is taking you home the wrong way. You just think "right here" and the car will turn and plan a fresh route. Or you change your mind about where you're going mid-journey: again, that's no problem with a thought-mediated drive-by-wire override capability.And people with disabilities that prevent them driving regular cars could experience driving by controlling at least some of the car's functions, too..

...Presumably to ensure everyone knows this is a German innovation in the face of the massive Google/DARPA juggernaut, the smart, semi-autonomous Volkswagen Passat has been christened 'MadeInGermany'. One begins to understand why engineers are not in charge of branding. Anyway, using laser radars, microwave radars and stereo cameras, the car can perform 360-degree obstacle detection and sense a car in front from its fenders up to 200 metres away. In all respects it's a state-of-the-art autonomous car - fully capable of driving itself or interfacing with other interesting control systems like the iPad or iPhone.

Read more at - 'Mind control puts you in charge of driverless cars'


Friday, March 25, 2011

The mobile phone app that 'spots cancer'

The  UK's Daily Mail has a post about a new  mobile phone app that spots cancer and which is more accurate than the techniques routinely used in hospitals:

The smartphone-based system is up to 100 per cent accurate at telling the difference between benign tumours and their malignant counterparts. It also takes just an hour to make the diagnosis, meaning patients don’t have to spend days or weeks anxiously waiting for test results...

...In future, the smartphone system could be adapted to spot brain, skin and ovarian cancers quickly and accurately.The tiny amount of tissue needed - one thousandth of a millilitre - would also spare patients the pain and risk of having repeatedly having pieces of their growth cut away for testing. And with the most expensive piece of equipment costing just £60 or so, the system would be cheap to run.

Read more at - 'The mobile phone app that 'spots cancer''


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rise in drivers using Twitter

The UK's Telegraph has a report on how increasing numbers of motorists are using Facebook and Twitter while driving with potentially ''catastrophic consequences'', according to police:

Devon and Cornwall Police said it was catching more and more people using mobile phones with internet capability while behind the wheel, creating a high danger of crashing.
It urged drivers to show greater care, saying that rules banning the use of mobile phones while driving had now been in place for a ''long, long time''.Inspector Richard Price, from the force's roads policing unit, said: ''With the new mobile phones, it is becoming more commonplace for people to use them to access social media than for texting while driving.''The availability of information is sometimes too tempting to drivers and often they will be picking up the phone and updating their (Facebook) site.
''It really is unacceptable.''
The force has launched Operation Vortex to clamp down on ''complacent and arrogant behaviour'' by drivers.
It said research by the RAC had shown one in five motorists in the south-west had admitted to checking social media alerts whilst driving, making this a particular focus of the campaign alongside speeding, drink-driving and failing to wear a seatbelt.

 Read more at - 'Rise in drivers using Twitter'


Monday, March 21, 2011

Mobile phones could run for months between charges

The UK's Telegraph has a short post about how mobile phones could soon run for months rather than days between charges, after scientists discovered how to make them work more efficiently:

A team of electrical engineers at Illinois University in the US believe their method will enable mobiles and laptops to run for up to 100 times longer between charges.
It focuses on changing the way a device's digital memory works, as this consumes much of the charge.
At the moment mobile phone memories contain thin metal wires. Every time information is accessed, electricity is passed through them to retrieve the data. The electrical engineers thought that if the size of the components used to store and retrieve the information could be reduced, so could the amount of electricity.
They have discovered a way of using carbon nanotubes - tiny tubes 10,000 times thinner than a human hair - instead.
Feng Xiong, a graduate student on the team who was lead author on a paper, to be published in the journal Science, explained: "The energy consumption is essentially scaled with the volume of the memory bit.

Read full original post - 'Mobile phones could run for months between charges'


Monday, March 14, 2011

With this Skype I do wed: Couple get married by web video

Well, it looks like a new trend is starting.....marriage by Skype. This began through a groom being ill in hospital, yet it could grow. Saves on travel expenses!

It was meant to be a tradition wedding with the bride wearing white, the groom a tuxedo and 500 guests watching the ceremony. But instead of standing together to take their vows, Samuel Kim and Helen Oh were seven miles apart as she said 'I do'  on a computer screen. The couple married in Fullerton, southern California, on Skype video after he fell ill and landed in a hospital isolation ward.

Skype wedding: Bride Helen Oh stands alone at the altar as her husband-to-be Samuel Kim watches her from his isolation ward on the jumbo-sized screen
Skype wedding: Bride Helen Oh stands alone at the altar as her husband-to-be Samuel Kim watches her from his isolation ward on the jumbo-sized screen.

Guests watched on jumbo-sized screens as the Korean couple, both 27, stood alone - Oh at the Grace Ministries church and Kim in his room at the UCI Medical Center in Orange County. He told her: 'Helen, my wife, I'm very, very sorry for not being able to walk you down the aisle or stand at the altar, but today is just one day. 'We're going to live for a very long time. I promise to be a perfect husband from now on to make up for this.' Five cameramen captured the ceremony last Saturday on split screens while Kim watched on a laptop in his room which had been filled with flowers by nurses.

Read more at - 'With this Skype I do wed: Couple get married by web video'


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Chinese mega-city building huge security system

The UK's Telegraph has a post about the Chinese mega-city of Chongqing which plans to build a $2.6 billion (£1.6 billion) security system that will be one of the world's largest with 500,000 surveillance cameras:

The system would dwarf a network of 40,000 security cameras installed in the capital of China's far-western Xinjiang region last year, following deadly July 2009 clashes between Muslim Uighurs and members of the majority Han group.
Chongqing's more than 500,000 cameras, which are due to be installed by 2012, will mainly be used for crime prevention, emergency controls and rescue operations, a police spokesman told the Global Times.
The computerised cameras will be managed under one network, allowing authorities and emergency services in the province-sized area of more than 30 million people to share the video feeds, the paper said.
A crackdown on organised crime two years ago in the sprawling municipality led to numerous high-level prosecutions for corruption and mafia crime that have shocked the nation as it revealed Chongqing's underworld.

See original post - 'Chinese mega-city building huge security system'


Friday, March 04, 2011

If It's Not the Destination and It's Not the Journey...

A post over at John Thackara's Observer's Room points to how much of our city traffic is caused by drivers just searching for a place to park! Yep - read on.....

A study by Transportation Alternatives found that up to 45 percent of traffic in an area of Brooklyn was caused by cars circling the streets looking for parking. And in 2006, UCLA professor of urban planning Donald Shoup calculated that, within a year, vehicles searching for parking in a small business district in LA consumed 47,000 gallons of gas and produced 730 tons of carbon dioxide.

Faced by such shocking numbers, the default reaction of some people has been to look to technology for an answer. Let's invent a system, they resolved, that enables drivers to find open parking spaces without delay. A team at Rutgers University, for example, uses ultrasonic sensors, GPS receivers and cellular networks to find empty parking spaces; they relay this information to drivers using internet maps and navigation systems.

To optimize the search process, the Rutgers team placed ultrasonic sensors on the passenger-side door of three cars and used them to collect data on empty parking spaces over a period of two months during daily commutes through Highland Park, New Jersey. From this, the engineers developed an algorithm that used these ultrasound readings to reveal the number of available parking spaces with 95 percent accuracy. By combining this information with GPS data, they were able to produce maps of occupied and unoccupied spaces that were 90 percent accurate.

Read original post at - 'If It's Not the Destination and It's Not the Journey...'