Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mobility & Future Warfare

This article by Andrew Buncombe titled The Future of War describes just how mobile and deadly - and automated - future warfare will become:

'At a recent exhibition of new military technology one independent expert stood almost agog as the prototype for a new killing machine was rolled out. It went by the acronym of URV or Unmanned Robot Vehicle - and it looked like something from the movies.

"It was frightening. The [URV] has laser radars at the front and these things were scanning up and down and from side to side," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.Org, a Washington-based military studies group. "It was the most Sixties, sci-fi thing I have ever seen."...

"More destructive capacity into the hands of ever-smaller groups of individuals"

"I think that cyberwarfare and biotechnology are particularly threatening to the West because they - along with nuclear proliferation - will put more destructive capacity into the hands of ever-smaller groups of individuals," he said. "We need to keep innovating to find potential solutions - biotechnology can provide not only killer viruses but also lifesaving antidotes."'

Warfare is becoming increasingly assyemetrical, decentered, and guerilla-like - in other words, it is becoming more mobile and networked.

Lets be friends - virtually!

BBC News reports in 'Virtual pals 'soar in importance' how many online members believe that virtual communities are as important as their real-world counterparts:

'A survey found 43% of online networkers from the US felt "as strongly" about their web community as they did about their real-world friends. It also revealed net-users had made an average of 4.6 virtual pals this year. The survey, from the US-based Center for the Digital Future, of 2,000 individuals forms part of a six-year study into attitudes to the web...

It also found 40% of net-users were using the web to stay in contact with people, and 37.7% believed the internet was enabling them to communicate more with friends and family. The survey also revealed 7.4% of those surveyed kept a blog, double the figure in 2003; and in that period, the number of people posting pictures online grew from 11% to 23.6%.'

....Are we friends??

GPS That Never Fails

TechReview claims in GPS That Never Fails that a breakthrough in vision processing has been developed that provides a highly accurate way to fill gaps in Global Positioning System availability:

'Drive down a Manhattan street, and your car's navigation system will blink in and out of service. That's because the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite signals used by car navigation systems and other technologies get blocked by buildings. GPS also doesn't work well indoors, inside tunnels and subway systems, or in caves--a problem for everyone from emergency workers to soldiers. But in a recent advance that has not yet been published, researchers at Sarnoff, in Princeton, NJ, say their prototype technology--which uses advanced processing of stereo video images to fill in GPS gaps--can maintain location accuracy to within one meter after a half-kilometer of moving through so-called GPS-denied environments.

That kind of resolution is a major advance in the field, giving GPS-like accuracy over distances relevant to intermittent service gaps that might be encountered in urban combat or downtown driving.'

Millions of Mobile Broadband Users

Cellular-News claims that there will be over 500 Million Mobile Broadband Users by 2010:

'According to a Strategy Analytics' recent report, new alternative technologies will contribute just 6 percent of the forecast 500 million mobile broadband users globally by 2010. Despite all the hype surrounding alternative technologies like WiMAX, it is iterations of existing technologies which will dominate the mobile broadband arena in the short term.

Technologies such as mobile WiMAX and UMTS TDD will lead the alternative technology camp, but enhancements to existing technologies, including HSPA and EV-DO Revision A+ will comprise the bulk of the market and are where the money lies in the short-term.'

Blogging Towards Democracy

SpiegelOnline International has a post on From China to Iran, Web Diarists Are Challenging Censors that looks at some of the dissident bloggers in China and Iran, and other similar states:

'Authoritarian states like China, Iran and Egypt are having trouble dealing with the burgeoning number of critical online diaries. These blogs, which multiply by the second, expose news about incidents that many regimes would prefer to keep hushed up. In many countries, blogs are giving people their first real taste of democracy.

The incident casts a bright light on a new form of resistance: the constantly growing online criticism of seemingly omnipotent regimes and authorities charged with upholding morals. An odd crescendo is building on the Internet, one that resembles a fast-growing series of vibrations, at times as dissonant as its many voices, but also powerful and influential when similar interests converge.'

Can resistance be fuelled by decentralised practices?

(Thanks to DB for the article)

Monday, November 27, 2006

The New World, the Rise of the New Culture of Participation

In a talk entitled 'The New World, the Rise of the New Culture of Participation' futurist thinker Jamais Cascio talks of ideas that he first outlined at Worldchanging concerning public participation and citizen culture:

'These are all ways of allowing interested, eager participation in efforts that would be too big for any single person, and too “out of control” (in Kevin Kelly’s phrase) for any traditional organization.

This list covers some of the characteristics of this emerging participatory culture.

* Collaboration
* Distribution
* Networks over hierarchies
* Transparency
* Ownership of reputation vs. ownership of property
* Ideas are catalysts for more ideas
* Technology-enabled, not technology-focused'

As ever, a thoughtful take on mobile collaboration and participation.

New fuelled mobility on the road

According to this Green Car Congress report Nissan Motor plans to put lightweight, subcompact electric cars powered by lithium-ion batteries developed in-house on the market in three years:

'Nissan will also reportedly roll-out its gasoline-electric hybrids—possibly with plug-in capability—based on its own technology by 2010. The 2007 Altima Hybrid is based on technology licensed from Toyota. Nissan is projecting a driving range for the electric vehicle of about 200 km on a single charge. Mitsubishi Motors and Fuji Heavy Industries are also developing electric cars for the mass market.

Nissan developed its first electric car in 1947. It developed a two-passenger small electric car—the Hypermini—in 2000, but the model could travel only just more than 100 km on a single charge and never made it to the mass market.'

Similarly Toyota Motor plans to increase the proportion of fuel-efficient diesel and hybrid passenger vehicles that it sells in Europe from 43% of its new car sales in 2005 to 50% in 2010, according to this report

See also this post on Serial Hybrids Are Here! - 'Just six months after Tesla Motors announced the return of a 100% battery car, the Tesla Roadster, we have another great leap forward. As reported in the Los Angeles Times in a story entitled “GM To Present A Modified Electric Car“ on November 10th, General Motors has announced a serial hybrid car. Early next year they will present a prototype of the vehicle.'

It seems there is an increasing shift in the car market away from hydrocarbons...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Digital Revolutions! SMSing Under the Dinner Table

Here are some links to 'digital revolutions':

This post SMSing Under the Dinner Table reveals how in a new T-Mobile USA survey on mobile communications during the American holiday season it showed that active use of cell phones, instant messaging and texting devices are creating new family dynamics at holiday dinners and family gatherings!! Well - is this family at 'co-presence'?

In the survey:

* Seventy percent of young adults (ages 18-22) and 56 percent of parents surveyed say they've made or answered wireless calls during a holiday gathering.
* Thirty-five percent of young adults say they've read or sent an e-mail or text message under the dinner table during a holiday family gathering.
* In addition, 67 percent of parents and young adults now agree that it is okay to use their mobile phone during holiday gatherings. Moreover, 73 percent of people surveyed agree the mobile phone can improve the holidays by keeping people in touch with those not there in person.

Also - Washington Post are running a rather interesting series called the "Digital Revolution" - such as about Internet in rural Bangladesh in Internet Extends Reach Of Bangladeshi Villagers

Thanks to mobile-society for this

Suspect Nation

Earlier in the week More4 aired a documentary on the state of Britain's surveillance - it was titled Suspect Nation .

For those who missed it, it can be viewed here as a free download on Google Video - while it lasts!

A very 'telling' exposure.

Mobiles hope to be 'smart wallet'

BBCNews discusses in Mobiles hope to be 'smart wallet' how mobiles will soon be using wireless technology similar to RFID in order to operate more like 'smart wallets' for entry and payment:

'NFC is a short-range wireless technology like RFID tags, which are used to track stock by retailers. The tags inside phones could have personal information stored in them and so could act as car keys, money, tickets and travel cards. Mobile firms representing 40% of the global mobile market back NFC.Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer of the GSM Association, which represents the mobile industry, said: "Interoperability and standardisation are the fundamental requirements for mobile market success.

"NFC opens up a wide range of possibilities and we are committed to ensuring the mobile industry works together to realise its potential."'

Surveillance cameras that listen

NewScientistTech reports in Big brother is listening to you how surveillance cameras are starting to listen for our raised, shhh:

'Revellers planning a night out in the Netherlands this weekend should keep their voices down.

To prevent fights breaking out, surveillance cameras in the city of Groningen have been adapted to listen out for voices raised in anger. Microphones attached to the cameras feed the sound signals to software that can detect voices that are aggressive in tone. "Aggressive people tend to tense their larynx, and the sound made by their vocal cords is distorted," says Peter van Hengel of developer Sound Intelligence, a spin-off of the University of Groningen. This means that high frequency vowel sounds span a broader frequency range. "A truly aggressive voice is very hard to imitate," he says.'

What senses are next, one wonders??

Monday, November 20, 2006

The way to work: Space, place and technology in 2016

Orange (the phone company, that is) has recently compiled a report - The way to work: Space, place and technology in 2016 - which examines how:

'Businesses must prioritise managing intellectual property and flexibility of work time and location to control organisational change over the next 10 years, according to the latest report from the Orange Future Enterprise coalition (OFEc). “The way to work: space, place and technology in 2016” sets out the challenges to business of the future in light of evolving social, economic, political and organisational pressures.'


'The way to work in 2016: Space, place and technology in 2016' OFEc report (1.53 Mb, pdf)

'The way to work in 2016: Space, place and technology in 2016' Podcast (6 Mb, mp3)

Hyperlinking Reality via Phones

This MIT TechReview reports how Nokia researchers are working on a system that allows physical objects to be identified and connected to the Internet through mobile-phone screens:

'A Nokia research project could one day make it easier to navigate the real world by superimposing virtual information on an image of your surroundings. The new software, called Mobile Augmented Reality Applications (MARA), is designed to identify objects viewed on the screen of a camera phone.

The Nokia research team has demonstrated a prototype phone equipped with MARA software and the appropriate hardware: a global positioning system (GPS), an accelerometer, and a compass. The souped-up phone is able to identify restaurants, hotels, and landmarks and provide Web links and basic information about these objects on the phone's screen.'

Dail and Park in Paris

A new system for drivers and mobile users is starting in Paris - Forget park and ride, try dial and park describes the system:

'A service starting in Paris next month is designed to make life somewhat easier for harried drivers by allowing them to find out, in real time, whether there are parking spaces available nearby by using their cellphones or GPS navigation devices.

The system will monitor the status of about 120 public parking garages across the French capital. From their phones, drivers will be able to find out whether a nearby garage is open and has places available.

"At certain times of day, 20 to 25 percent of vehicles are in search of a parking space. With this service, we should be able to improve the traffic flow," said François Le Vert, a representative of the Fédération Nationale des Métiers du Stationnement, an organization of French parking institutions that helped develop the system.'

Via Smartmobs

Biodiesel Fueling Location Information for Cell Phones and Mobile Devices

GreenCarCongress reports on how maps are being developed for mobile phone users to find biodiesel fueling spots... although only in the US at present:

'NearBio, operated and invented by WHDC LLC, a privately held company specializing in distributed mobile applications, has introduced a service that enables mobile phone users (and computer users) to find the nearest biodiesel fueling locations based on city, zip code, or GPS coordinates.

The national database of more than 1,000 individually verified locations is updated daily and is complete with driving directions, hours, payment options, and blend information (where available). The website’s graphical map of nationwide locations is the first of its kind, using a color-coded icon for each pump location to identify the specific blend available.'

Plain Air Dining

In this article Plain Air Dining it says that Americans love their cars— 'as chariots, mobile offices, and teenage make-out spots' yet asks - but when did they become dining tables?

'I hate parking lots. I hate their pervasiveness; I hate how, in this driver-friendly era, we’ve forgotten to relegate them behind buildings. I hate the flat, empty space they create. Recently we’ve begun landscaping them, as if we know it’s bad to cover so much ground with cement for our cars. To make amends, we build little green islands in the hard, gray seas, then anchor our cars next to them. It reminds me of the way farmers leave a wild copse in the middle of a field as a wildlife refuge. Only, in the case of the parking lot, it seems we’re both the farmer and the rabbit running from the fox. Have you noticed? The first spaces to be taken are always the ones in the shade.'

Saturday, November 18, 2006

New Fuels for new mobilities

The latest in the search for alternative fuels for transportation has a couple of interesting developments.

Firstly, there is the new BMW just showcased - a hybrid hydrogen vehicle. It is discussed in this BBC article where both the pros and cons are outlined. Of course, its both expensive and there are currently only 5 refueling stations in the world that are compatible with the BMW technology - so plan that trip carefully!

Secondly, a fascinating account from ScienceDaily called Microorganisms One Part Of The Solution To Energy Problem which says that the answer to one of the world's largest problems -- the need for clean, renewable sources of energy -- might just come from some of the world's smallest inhabitants -- bacteria!

A new report published on this - Microbial Energy Conversion - can be downloaded from here

Latest in GPS vehicle tracking

In the latest post from Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends it talks of a new truck tracking technology:

'Now, European companies in Ireland and Spain are using an integrated solution for managing produce transport fleets. So far, this integrated fleet-management system is used by about 800 trucks. And if this is an efficient way to manage trucks, even the creators call it 'a big-brother style solution.Here is how the software developed for the Cold-Trace project works according to IST Results:

Where in the past fleet managers have relied on calling drivers to find out where they are or to check if a pick-up or drop-off went ok, the Cold-Trace system gives them the information for the whole fleet on a PC screen. A 'black box' in each truck is connected to a server in the fleet manager’s office via a GPRS connection, while each driver has a standard PDA. GPS location data and information from sensors placed around the vehicle are all fed into the black box, and from there fed back to fleet headquarters.'

For more information about this project and its future applications, the business case "Cold-Trace: a Mobile-based Traceability Solution Rendering Fleet Management more Effective" (PDF format, 8 pages, 277 KB)

Mobile security in the 21st century?

I recently posted about the e-passport regulations coming into force insisting that countries/citizens wishing to enter the US are required to have. Well, thanks to a Guardian article it seems that such passports are not so secure after all:

'Six months ago, with the help of a rather scary computer expert, I deconstructed the life of an airline passenger simply by using information garnered from a boarding-pass stub he had thrown into a dustbin on the Heathrow Express. By using his British Airways frequent-flyer number and buying a ticket in his name on the airline's website, we were able to access his personal data, passport number, date of birth and nationality. Based on this information, using publicly available databases, we found out where he lived, his profession, all his academic qualifications and even how much his house was worth.

It would have been only a short hop to stealing his identity, committing fraud in his name and generally ruining his life.'

Mobile security in the 21st century?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New High Speed Train Networks

Is the future more about mass high-speed train transport than individualised motor vehicle travel? Yesterday saw the completion - finally - of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which has been renamed High Speed 1 (or HS1). This new link will 'allow Eurostar trains to accelerate to 186mph (300km/h) within minutes of leaving their new terminus at St Pancras. They will reach the Channel Tunnel 70 miles away in half an hour, shaving about 25 minutes off the journey time to Paris and Brussels. London to Paris will take 2 hours and 15 minutes'

According to The Times in Travel times slashed as London gets on the fast track to Europe :

HIGH-SPEED trains will compete with airlines between London and dozens of cities on the Continent from next year, when three missing links in Europe’s 186mph rail network will be filled.

Eurostar is joining forces with high-speed rail operators in six European countries to offer through tickets and fast connections. Journey times from London to Amsterdam, Cologne, Strasbourg and Zurich will be cut by up to two hours, making rail a fast alternative to air travel for the first time in 30 years.From November 14 next year Eurostar passengers will no longer have to spend the first 30 miles of their journey on slow, suburban lines in South London.

A Report on the Surveillance Society

A few posts ago I commented upon the recent report that had just been released that had made a study of Britain as a surveillance state.

This study had been commissioned by the Information Commissioner and was undertaken by the Surveillance Studies Network, with the principal report authors having connection to the academic organisation/journal Surveillance & Society.

This 100 page report is now available in full here.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Transology: Reinventing The Wheel

The people at MIT have done it again in terms of cool-ness... in their concept cars described in this report - Transology: Reinventing The Wheel (PDF) - they examine urban motorisation that adapts to the body of the driver/user like transparent skin with integrated displays and Building a car around the movement of the drivers...

Worth a look... especially for re-conceptualising urban mobilities

When Maps Reflected Romance of the Road

NY Times describes in a piece titled 'When Maps Reflected Romance of the Road ' how today the road map is mostly an online 'virtual' electronic image - and how this is destroying the romance of navigating a car journey by good ole paper maps that used to hide the car screen as you drove... ahh, those good old days:

'Perhaps it is the contrast with digital maps that makes old-fashioned paper road maps seem rich and wonderful again. Those colorful guides once found in every glove compartment are gaining desirability not just as collectibles but as cultural records — even in archives as august as those of the Library of Congress....

...The old road maps don’t give oral directions or find the nearest A.T.M. But their resolution, design and colors all make the digital variety pale: the screens in our cars seem like remnants of the days of the first I.B.M. PCs...In the ’20s, maps also often showed airplanes, boats and other exciting vehicles that used the fuel and oil produced by the company issuing the map.'

Thanks to Mimi!

New generation of location-based services

Information Society Technologies reports in 'Bringing combined positioning and communications technologies to market' that British police officers, Italian fire fighters and Greek taxi drivers are amongst the many users testing innovative location-based services under the LIAISON project:

'The results could mark a coming of age for converging communications and positioning technologies.

LIAISON is one of the largest current initiatives to develop and implement a new generation of location-based services (LBS) for the professional market. The project approach, based on what is called 'enhanced assisted GPS', is designed to improve the speed, accuracy and reliability of existing GPS systems, allowing a whole new range of time, cost and life-saving services to be developed.

The three-and-a-half year initiative involves more than 30 partners from 10 European countries and, after an extensive test programme commencing in November 2006, should result in several commercial systems. Some applications are likely to be on the market before the project ends in April 2008.

“We expect to be able to start commercialising within months of the different trials concluding successfully,” explains LIAISON coordinator Rémi Challamel of Alcatel Space in France.'

Monday, November 13, 2006

Running Stitch - capturing space...

Here looks like a worthwhile exhibition for 'mobility' fans -

Running Stitch is being described as '
A tapestry map, created live, using satellite navigation' by artists Jen Southern & Jen Hamilton

Friday 17th November 6-9pm

Exhibition: 18th November to 17th December 2006. Admission Free

Fabrica, 40 Duke Street, Brighton, BN1 1AG

Running Stitch is a 25sq/m tapestry map, created live in the gallery over four weeks, that charts visitors' daily journeys through the city.

"For Running Stitch, artists Jen Southern & Jen Hamilton will be re-configuring Brighton & Hove by 'capturing' its space through the movement of its inhabitants. Visitors to Fabrica will be given the opportunity to take a GPS-enabled mobile phone with them to track their journeys through the city centre. these walks around the city will result in individual GPS 'drawings' of the visitor's movements that are projected live in the gallery to disclose aspects of the city unknown to the artists. Each individual route will then be sewn into a hanging canvas to form an evolving tapestry that reveals a sense of place and interconnection.

Over the past four years Jen Hamilton (Canada) and Jen Southern (UK) have been using Satellite Navigation technology to explore urban environments. Data generated from the walking routes they invite people to take are often processed in their installations to create collaborative and personalised maps. Two recent projects: Distance Made Good: Flow Lines (Morecambe and Lancaster, 2004) and Satellite Bureau (Cardiff, 2005) each involved people in making new maps of their locality determined not by formal topographical or geopolitical conventions, but by their own choice of journey."

"Running Stitch sews together our routes to work to the sea, and our walks for exercise or shopping with the meandering and more personal journeys we might take within the fabric of the city."

at Fabrica, 40 Duke Street, Brighton, BN1 1AG
tel/fax [01273]778646
opening times
Wed Sat 11.30am - 5.30pm
Sun 2pm - 5pm. Closed Mon and Tues

The Cosmobilities Network

It's always a pleasure to announce that the Cosmobilities Network has now published their latest newsletter which can be found here (PDF).

This is a site/place always worth checking out as they have interesting links/articles on mobilities studies.

Also worth checking out is the exellcent slide show from the recent AIR TIME-SPACES: NEW METHODS FOR RESEARCHING MOBILITIES event that took place at Lancaster University, September 29-30 2006.

The photo-slideshow can be seen here

Note: the next cosmobilities meeting from September 7 - 8 in 2007 in Basle/Switzerland. The theme is 'Mobilities, Space and Inequality'.

For more information, check the newsletter, the cosmobilities website or visit the conference website

Interface for mobile-music on the Underground

Good - now the roaming has finished and I can get back to posting. Firstly, listen to this...listen to the music of the undersound...

'undersound is a new type of experience, an interface that is on your mobile phone and in the underground stations you pass through every day. It is part personal, part public and all about the tube. undersound is a way of listening to, distributing and affecting the flow of music in the underground that goes beyond just the music itself. It allows you to see your journeys, the people around you, and the tube itself in a new light. There are three key aspects of life underground that we tapped into in the design of undersound.'

undersound will be spatially distributed at individual stations and throughout the wider tube network. I can add music to the system at upload points in the ticket halls , and I can download tracks on the platforms. Architectural configuration of the stations affects my experience of contributing and downloading music as the proximal nature of the interaction with these situated points require s myself and other undersound users to congregate at certain locations within the station for the purpose of interacting with the system.

Via Smartmobs

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Robotising Military Mobilities

Although I haven't reported too often on military matters - yet! - I thought this information about the re-structuring of the South Korean military was interesting. The Korean Times discusses in High-Tech Military in Due Course how in September last year, the Army finished building the second largest training camp in the world, the Korea Combat Training Center (KCTC). This centre boasts 'state-of-the-art training capabilities, including the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES).The government spent about 280 billion won ($300 million) in develop the advanced training facility for seven years.' Also...

'The Army is pushing for a three-phase combat robot development project to build three types of robots for use in combat situations, in cooperation with the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and other private industrial counterparts, such as the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).

...All information on situations on the battlefield, including the number of casualties, soldiers’ locations, kinds of weapons systems being used by enemy forces and lethality of specific weapons, are transmitted to the command-and-control center on a real-time basis through laser transmitters attached to soldiers and weapons systems.'

Where will all the soldiers go??

Britain has sleepwalked into pervasive surveillance

It's official - Britain is the most surveilled country amongst developed western nations. A recent report just out - The Surveillance Studies Network report- said there are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras - about one for every 14 people.

The report also stresses that dataveillance has increased drastically, as well as a future of targeted branding. This also includes satellite tracking of all future journeys and the introduction of individually customised payments, as well as job and school screening. This is the first report to really highlight the immediacy of this situation...and it sounds uncomfortable.

You can read separate accounts of this report from the BBC, Guardian, and The Times respectively:

Britain is 'surveillance society'

Spy planes, clothes scanners and secret cameras: Britain's surveillance future

By 2016, they'll be able to watch you everywhere

Also, of interest, is an article by Steve Wright called The ECHELON Trail: An Illegal Vision in which he describes how as an academic researcher at Lancaster University in the UK (thats us!) - he was investigating the Echelon surveillance system and was harrassed by Special Forces who came to his home and forced him to go with them to the university with the aim of confiscating his research... we researchers at Lancaster have a reputation, it seems...