Friday, November 30, 2007

Super scooters & Morphing handcycles

The EngineerOnline has a couple of interesting posts on new mobility devices; a super scooter and a morphing lets begin with the handcycle.

i) the morphing handcycle:
In a stretched-out low-rider position, it’s a traditional bicycle - but when "morphed" into high-rider position, it has a wheelchair’s agility for navigating doorways and aisles. It also puts the user at eye level with standing persons.

The morphing handcycle involves no electronics. To morph into high-riding position, the rider sets the brake and rolls the rear wheels forward, as with a wheelchair. The 24-speed cycle employs twin mechanical gas shocks, specified for the rider’s weight, that assist in the lift, enabling the user to switch to high-riding mode with single-hand force. Other components are standard bike parts.

ii) the super scooter:

Prof William J. Mitchell and several of his students at MIT have developed a new electric scooter that folds up when not in use....Motor scooters are a very popular form of transportation in Asian and European cities, Mitchell said, because they provide convenient, inexpensive transportation. But conventional scooters, using inefficient two-stroke petrol engines, are also a source of local air pollution.

The non-polluting electric design, which eliminates the powertrain by putting motors directly inside each of the two wheels, made it possible to design the scooter so that it could be folded up to about half its size, making it easy to store in crowded urban environments.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Google Mobile Finds You, No Satellite Required

Google has announced version 2.0 of Google Maps for mobile, featuring a beta version of its new "My Location" service that serves as an alternative to GPS technology, which is not widely available on mobile phones.

It uses phone-tower ID information to provide users with their approximate location, helping them determine where they are, what's around them and how to get there:

For users who do have GPS cell phones, My Location can actually complement it, Google said. "My Location kicks in faster than GPS in most cases, so you can access your location even faster on the map," wrote Mike Chu, software engineer on the Google mobile team, on the team blog. "It also works reliably indoors (unlike GPS) and doesn't drain your phone battery at the rate that GPS does."

Read in full - 'Google Mobile Finds You, No Satellite Required'


FBI increasingly tracking people by phones

Although this is nothing new, the escalation factor needs to be noticed. This post from SmartMobs writes that

The American FBI is increasingly asking courts to authorize surveillance by mobile phones, according to the Washington Post. Specifically, what the agency requests is permission to locate a suspect, either by identifying nearest cell phone tower or, more precisely yet, through the E911 channel. One danger:

In some cases, judges have granted the requests without requiring the government to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that a crime is taking place or that the inquiry will yield evidence of a crime. Privacy advocates fear such a practice may expose average Americans to a new level of government scrutiny of their daily lives.

Read more - 'FBI increasingly tracking people by cell phones'

A phone that tells you what to do

Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends reports on how researchers from the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) have developed a software code-named Magitti that when installed on your GPS-enabled mobile phone,

Magitti starts to suggest you what to do in your area. You don't need to start a Web search for a restaurant or a movie. Magitti will immediately give you some recommendations based on the time of the day and you past behavior. A deployment is scheduled next year in Japan. But it's unclear if this software will be sold in Europe or in the U.S...

...Here is how Magitti will work according to Technology Review. "When a person first opens a phone that has Magitti software, she will instantly see a list of recommendations. If it's noon, the software might suggest local restaurants. If it's 3 P.M., it might recommend a nearby boutique for shopping. If it's 9 P.M., a list of pubs might appear. Over time, these recommendations will change as Magitti learns more about the user's behaviors and preferences. The software employs artificial-intelligence algorithms that have traditionally been used in research to make tailored recommendations. If, for instance, a person prefers to eat inexpensive lunches and more-expensive dinners, Magitti will pick up on this (by comparing the GPS location of the restaurant with a database of establishments) and offer up corresponding recommendations."

A useful piece of kit or is this just a phone-nanny??

Read in full - 'A phone that tells you what to do'


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cheap sensors could capture your every move

NewScientistTech reports that small, cheap sensors for tracking the movement of a person's entire body could lead to "whole-body interfaces" for controlling computers or playing games:

Conventionally, motion capture makes use of reflective dots or small LEDs attached at key points on a person's torso, limbs and head. Capturing the movements of these points using an array of cameras allows animators to create a computerized skeleton, which can then guide the movements of an animated character, for example.

Several sensors measuring about 2.5 centimetres on each side are attached to a person's legs and arms. The sensors detect movement in two different ways: accelerometers and gyroscopes measure motion, but ultrasonic beeps are also emitted.

Tiny microphones mounted on the torso pick up these beeps, allowing a laptop computer, carried in a backpack, to calculate the distance to the sensor. The system is similar to, albeit much simpler than, bats' ultrasonic echolocation, and together with the motion sensors provides a more accurate overall picture of body movement.

Read in full - 'Cheap sensors could capture your every move'

Improving Fuel Cells for Cars

TechReview has a post that examines automotive fuel cells that could replace hydrogen:

a new method for making materials just a few atoms thick could pave the way to automotive fuel cells that use readily available fuels instead of hydrogen, which is difficult to produce and store. The new fuel cells would be smaller, lower-temperature versions of solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), which were originally developed for use in stationary applications such as power plants. Startup Sienergy Systems, based in Quincy, MA, was founded to bring the fuel cells to market. Last week the company announced half a million dollars in early-stage funding.

The synthesis method, developed by Harvard professor of materials science Shriram Ramanathan, produces high-quality solid-oxide electrolytes that are about 25 nanometers thick--about a thousandth the thickness of the electrolytes used in conventional SOFCs. The thinner electrolyte allows the fuel cells to run at about 300 ÂșC--much cooler than the 800 to 1,000 degrees typical for SOFCs. The lower temperatures could lead to lower costs and make it much easier to package the fuel cells for use in vehicles and portable generators.

Read in full - 'Improving Fuel Cells for Cars'

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Emergence of a 'poor man's broadband' ?

NewScientistTech has an article on how students in Pakistan will soon be able to download big files faster by avoiding the internet:

Instead of using expensive broadband or slow, unreliable dial-up connections, students at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) will try out a new system, dubbed "poor man's broadband" (PMB). It allows computers to link to each other directly for faster downloads, and it works as long as at least one computer running the trial software has already downloaded the desired file from the internet. The system should also reduce the university's risk of overloading the bandwidth supplied by its internet service providers (ISPs).

Read ''Poor man's broadband' has a turn of speed' (subscription required)


Telecommuting is good for us, apparently...

Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends writes that, according to researchers in management, telecommuting is good both for workers and their employers:

The two psychologists looked at 20 years of research on flexible work arrangements, covering 46 previous studies of telecommuting involving more than 12,000 employees. And they found that 'telecommuting is a win-win for employees and employers, resulting in higher morale and job satisfaction and lower employee stress and turnover.' One of the major factors in employee satisfaction is autonomy, and telecommuting brings that to individuals. This large meta-study also reveals that people who often work at home think their careers don't suffer from telecommuting.

But read 'Telecommuting is good for all of us'


Hydrogen test for spy plane

Here's a more novel look at hydrogen use - from the heavily militaristic corporate sector!

Boeing has successfully tested the hydrogen propulsion system of its High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned spy aircraft using an engine developed by Ford. During the test, the engine ran for nearly four days in a control chamber at Aurora Flight Sciences in Manassas, Virginia, and for three days in simulated conditions at 65,000ft....

...The Boeing HALE aircraft, which can carry payloads of up to 910kg, is designed to maintain a persistent presence over ground locations from stratospheric altitudes in seven-day sorties. It promises battlefield intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, border observation, port security and telecommunications. Production versions of the aircraft will be propeller-driven, lightweight and have a high-aspect ratio wing.

Read in full - Hydrogen test for spy plane

Monday, November 26, 2007

Phone-swipe Oyster scheme

The Guardian writes about the new scheme to let people pay for London transport by swiping their phone:

London Underground is ready to launch a system which allows people to pay for train journeys using their mobile phones. Officials from Transport for London, mobile maker Nokia and phone network O2 are understood to be preparing final details of a handset with a built-in Oyster card.

It is believed that the scheme will allow tube travellers to pay for their journeys simply by swiping a compatible mobile phone across the ticket-reading machine. The system could also be used for bus journeys, trams and some overland train journeys around the capital.

The launch would mark a significant expansion of the Oyster card scheme already used by London Underground, which allows travellers to pay for all their journeys using a single swipe card.

Read in full - 'Tube to launch phone-swipe Oyster scheme'

Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends describes new research rinto a self-organized control system for traffic lights that is said to 'improve vehicular traffic flow by up to 95 percent':

As traffic flows account for about one-third of global energy consumption, better control systems for traffic lights could reduce harmful CO2 emissions. Now, German researchers have developed a self-organized control system for traffic lights that could improve vehicular traffic flow by up to 95 percent. They even patented their combination of two strategies leading to this better control system for traffic lights...

...The main reason to develop such a system is that "heavy investments in traffic light systems were made in the 1960s and 70s rendering most systems today, due to use, age and technological advancement, antiquated." Even today, most of the control systems are "programmed offline, regardless of the realities of the road."

Read full post - 'Cruising in our cities'

Friday, November 23, 2007

Satellite monitoring/surveillance for the health of the planet

Jamais Cascio has written a short piece called 'I Spy With My Orbital Eye…' on his site Open the Future that address the use of satellite monitoring for surveying the health of the planet, both human and ecological. He refers to two recent articles on this subject:

The first (via James Hughes) comes from a report at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference in Philadelphia: NASA satellites help health policy experts around the world watch for and respond to disease outbreaks, and can potentially help head off a pandemic.

The second (via Ethan Zuckerman) is even more directly Bright Green: the use of satellite imagery to detect natural gas “flaring,” in order to track its impact on the environment.

I happen to think there is some mileage in these ideas... beyond the usual military appropriations.


Pay as you go motoring

The Guardian has another recent discussion on car-hiring schemes in the UK and various urban car clubs - worth reading for those considering shifting from an urban individualised car system to one of sharing:

In cities across Britain, car clubs such as Streetcar, Whizzgo and City Car Club are gaining in popularity as a viable alternative to car ownership.

The clubs claim to offer members all the benefits of owning a car without the associated expense and hassle. Not having your own car is definitely a greener option, but can it actually save you money as well?

Car clubs allow members to book online from a fleet of cars. They then find a conveniently located car and reserve it for their chosen time, whether that's 30 minutes to nip to the shops or two weeks for a family holiday.

Read in full - 'Pay as you go motoring'

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New airship era takes off... Helium mobilities!

The Guardian writes how the world's biggest airship will make its first commercial flight over Tokyo later this week, '70 years after the Hindenburg disaster brought the golden age of the dirigible to a fiery end':

The new helium-filled Zeppelin NT is 75 metres (246ft) long and will take passengers between 300-600 metres above Tokyo at speeds of up to 50 miles an hour. Built by the German firm Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, the Zeppelin will offer regular weekend and holiday flights over Tokyo from this Friday, including a night flight on Christmas Day and a sunrise excursion on New Year's Day.

Tickets for the 90-minute trips, the first commercial airship flights in Japan, will cost 126,000 yen (£550) for daytime flights and 168,000 yen for those at night, says its owner, Nippon Airship.

"We will fly much lower than an airplane at a leisurely pace," said the firm's president, Hiroyuki Watanabe.

Is the future??

Read in full - 'New airship era takes off in Tokyo'


Wireless network for airport RFID tracking

The Engineer Online discusses the need for airoort tracking security to introduce a wireless network capable of dealing with the information:

As airports begin to integrate new security measures such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to track people and luggage, they will need a wireless network capable of dealing with vast amounts of information. Such a system is set to be installed and trialled at Heathrow's terminal five, where an 'intelligent gate' will demonstrate, among other things, accurate passenger position estimation through active and passive RFID and radio over fibre (RoF) where the RFID is part of the boarding pass and/or passport.

Predictions suggest a terminal-wide network would have to support 10 million sources of information, from individual tracking units for passengers and staff to technology such as biometric gates. It is believed the system will have to deal with a peak data rate of 100Gbit/s as it tracks people, luggage, aircraft and all the information generated by those sources.

Read in full - 'Travel Tracker'

Hydrogen car hits the streets

The Engineer Online has this post on a hydrogen-powered car project at Birmingham University, UK:

A zero-emission, hydrogen-powered car has arrived on Birmingham University campus as part of the Science City Hydrogen energy project to discover how hydrogen powered cars might replace diesel and petrol vehicles.

The hydrogen car will be part of a fleet of five cars which will replace some of the university's own fleet of vehicles so that engineering researchers can learn more about their efficiency and cost effectiveness.

New technologies such as this often face uncertainties at the commercialisation stage and they can also have a higher initial cost. Until they become more competitive on cost, it is difficult to put these new technologies into production on a larger scale.

Read in full - 'Hydrogen car hits the streets'


Tuesday, November 20, 2007


TravelHacker has an interesting post on what it calls 'Eco-Tripping' which says that 'Whether you’re concerned about treading lightly or you just want to immerse yourself in authentic culture, eco tripping is something you should look into. It offers a myriad of opportunities, from trekking mountains to supporting local communities halfway around the world'.

They then give a list of 25 'top' destinations (which are debatable!) - eg's being: .

1. Alonissos: Alonissos’ National Marine Park is home to the endangered monk seal and lots of other interesting species of wildlife. It’s environmentally protected and has status as one of The European Community’s six “ECO Islands.” A number of Alonissos rentals are electricity-free.

2. The Lodge at Chaa Creek: This 330-acre ecoresort is located in western Belize on the banks of the Macal River. Resort activities are focused around the environment, culture, and archaeology of Belize. You’ll be able to explore the river, hike, watch birds, go mountain biking, and more. This resort has won the Conde Nast Traveler’s Ecotourism Award.

3. Maho Bay: One of the world’s first ecoresorts, Maho Bay Camp is built on 14 acres of gorgeous land. This simple inn by the water uses boardwalks to preserve trees and brush and other strategies for treading lightly. Because of this, the 100 units that make up the camp are nearly invisible.

Read in full - 'EcoTripping: 25 Vacations for Green Travelers'

License plates for private cars in Shanghai reach record high

According to People's Daily Online the average bid for private car license plates in Shanghai hit a record high:

54,000 yuan (7,267 U.S. dollars) in November, the second consecutive month prices surpassed 50,000 yuan. At a monthly auction on Saturday, the average bid for the 7,500license plates on offer was 54,317 yuan, a 6.5 percent increase from the 51,000 yuan average in October, according to an auction source.

Read - 'License plates for private cars in Shanghai reach record high'

Monday, November 19, 2007

Web Site Maps CO2 Emissions

EarthTrends discusses a new website that mashes global CO2 emissions from power plants, as shown in the image above:

Do you know where your power comes from? You can find out in a few clicks, thanks to new website, a database which includes 50,000 power plants worldwide--and the CO2 pollution each of them produces.

CARMA, which stands for Carbon Monitoring for Action, is the latest in a growing trend of environmental mashups--that is, applications that combine data from multiple sources to create a new tool, intuitively presenting large amounts of data.

Read in full - 'Web Site Maps CO2 Emissions from Power Plants Worldwide'

The Politics of Proximity: Mobility/Immobility in Practice

The Politics of Proximity: Mobility/Immobility in Practice
Session Convener: Giuseppina Pellegrino, University of Calabria (Italy) - Department of Sociology and Political Science

Conference website -

Intersections, overlaps and relations between globality and locality can be framed through the encompassing concept of mobility, which fosters both a powerful discourse in multiple settings and a renewed perspective in looking at socio-political transformations in the 21st century. Following John Urry and others, the sociology of mobility can be conceived as the study of mixtures and hybridations of people, objects, artefacts, information. Mobility (and immobility as its opposite, complementary side) involves multiple encounters and new inclusions and exclusions: proximity, closeness and togetherness increasingly depends on how mobility is articulated through the ever-present influence of infrastructures.

This raises some important questions:
- What does it mean to be mobile/immobile?
- Is mobility a resource or a boundary?
- How is ‘being on the move’ accomplished?
- How is the sense of time, space, global and local shaped through mobile practices?
- practices and settings where ‘being mobile’ is a ‘must’;
- mobilities and information distribution;
- mobilities and communicational practices;
- face-to-face/mediated proximity.

Abstracts of papers should be sent by 15th January to both the emails:,

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The World's Most Bicycle-Friendly Cities?

The Wired Blog asks Where Are The World's Most Bicycle-Friendly Cities? and links to Virgin who have 'put together a list of the top 11 friendliest cities for bikes in the world, based on criteria advanced by the League of American Bicyclists. And what would those criteria be? Why, they're enshrined in the Five Es':

1. Engineering (bike parking, designated lanes, etc.)

2. Encouragement (events and campaigns)

3. Evaluation and Planning (ongoing political bodies that make changes to existing laws and plan for the future)

4. Education (bike maps and awareness campaigns)

5. Enforcement (making motorists heel)

And the 11 most bike friendly cities?

1. Amsterdam

2. Portland, Oregon

3. Copenhagen

4. Boulder, Colorado

5. Davis, California

6. Sandnes, Norway

7. Tronheim, Norway

8. San Francisco, California

9. Berlin

10. Barcelona

11. Basel, Switzerland

Any disagreements??

More Cars or More Transportation Alternatives?

Tata Motors, one of Asia's leading automakers, is gearing up to tap into India's middle-class market by releasing the "world's cheapest car" in 2008. According to Worldchanging:

Tata plans to sell its "affordable" four-door vehicle at a sticker price of $2,500, or half the cost of the cheapest new car available in India today. As disposable incomes rise nationwide, the vehicle may lead India's 1.1 billion people closer to Western patterns of car consumption--and bring similar environmental and traffic problems, according to critics. In 2004, India had 145.9 persons per passenger car, and the United States had 2.2 persons per car.

"Can you imagine if even half of the 1.1 billion Indians owned a car?" Mahesh Mehta, an environmental lawyer based in New Delhi, noted in a recent Washington Post article. "We should not be following the Western model of car ownership. I think this will be disastrous in India." As an alternative to more cars, Mehta supports better public transportation to improve the Indian quality of life.

Read more in - More Cars or More Transportation Alternatives: What Will the World Choose?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pentagon Future Forecasts...?

This sounds eerily similar to the US Homeland Security's failed and botched attempt to set up a future forecasting and derivatives project for potential future 'terrorist' attacks. Now the Pentagon is paying Lockheed Martin to try to predict insurgencies and civil unrest like the weather - 'It's part of a larger military effort to blend forecasting software with social science that has some counterinsurgency experts cringing' says the Danger Room Blog:

Lockheed recently won a $1.3 million, 15-month contract from the Defense Department to help develop the "Integrated Crises Early Warning System, or ICEWS. The program will "let military commanders anticipate and respond to worldwide political crises and predict events of interest and stability of countries of interest with greater than 80 percent accuracy," the company claims. "Rebellions, insurgencies, ethnic/religious violence, civil war, and major economic crises" will all be predictable. So will "combinations of strategies, tactics, and resources to mitigate [against those] instabilities."

DARPA, the Pentagon's bleeding-edge research arm, laid out the case for ICEWS this summer at its conference, held outside of Disneyworld. "Commanders will always need to have an accurate picture of enemy positions, as well as friendly units and allies," David Honey, who heads the agency’s Strategic Technology Office, told confab-goers in Anaheim, California. "But increasingly it’s social, cultural, political and economic information, foreign language capabilities and other clues – that are proving essential."

Read in full - 'Pentagon Forecast: Cloudy, 80% Chance of Riots'


A Carbon-Free, Stackable Rental Car?

TechReview in their post 'A Carbon-Free, Stackable Rental Car' writes that:

The Smart Cities group at the MIT Media Lab is working on two low-cost electric vehicles that it hopes will revolutionize mass transit and help alleviate pollution. Next week, the group will unveil a prototype of its foldable electric scooter at the EICMA Motorcycle Show, in Milan. A prototype for the team's foldable electric car, called the City Car, is slated to follow next year.

The MIT group sees the vehicles as the linchpin in a strategy that aims to mitigate pollution with electric power, expand limited public space by folding and stacking vehicles like shopping carts, and alleviate congestion by letting people rent and return the vehicles to racks located near transportation hubs, such as train stations, airports, and bus depots.

Pics on the post will help to illustrate their point.

Monday, November 12, 2007

'Chatty' Indians and the mobile phone

The Economist magazine has an interesting article on mobile phones in India and how 'chatty' Indians have embraced the use of the mobile phone:

The average owner of a mobile handset spends 471 minutes (almost eight hours) on the phone each month, and sends 39 text messages. Those numbers do not capture other, more ingenious, uses for the device. For example, autorickshaw drivers will tell passengers to “hit me with a missed” (ie, call my mobile and hang up before I answer) when they want to be picked up for the journey home. Such tactics dent the phone companies' revenues. They now earn under 300 rupees ($7.50) a month on average per subscriber.

Not so long ago most Indians had to confine their arguments to those within earshot. By the early 1990s the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) and the state's two operators had installed only 8m lines. Some 2.5m people were on the waiting list, where some had languished for seven years.

Read in full - 'Chatty Indians have embraced the mobile phone, but many still shrug at the PC'

Thanks to Mobile-Society (and RL)

'Semantic' website promises to organise your life

NewScientistTech reports in ''Semantic' website promises to organise your life' how making sense of an ever-increasing number of emails, web pages, feeds, and social networking contacts is 'a tough job for even the most organised person' - But now a new website can organise your life like a personal assistant... (so say its developers!):

Radar Networks, a company based in San Francisco, US, is betting it can make sense of your information, by getting its website to learn to tell the difference between people, places, companies, and more.

Its website called Twine, which is currently in beta testing, harnesses the philosophy at the core of a discipline called the "semantic web".

The semantic web is an extension of the current web, but where information is stored in a machine-readable format. It should allow computers to handle information in more useful ways, by processing the meanings within documents instead of simply the documents themselves. To an extent, some web tools, such as tags, already tap into this philosophy.

New Mappings - bringing hyper-local information to its users

A new startup called YourStreet is bringing hyper-local information to its users by collecting news stories and placing them on its map-based interface:

While there have been many companies that combine information and maps, YourStreet is novel in its focus on classifying news by location...

...When a user opens the site, it detects her location and shows a map of that area, stuck with pins that represent the locations of news stories, user-generated content called conversations, and people who have added themselves to the map. The user can zoom in or out of the map or look at another location by entering a place name or zip code into a search bar. CEO and founder James Nicholson says that what sets YourStreet apart is its extensive news service: the site collects 30,000 to 40,000 articles a day from more than 10,000 RSS feeds, mostly from community newspapers and blogs.

Read full article from TechReview - 'Mapping News'

Friday, November 09, 2007

101 gadgets that changed the world

The Belfast Telegram has developed a list of 101 “gadgets” that have changed the world. The mobile phone and SMS are among them, alongside aspirin, barbed wire, bras, easers, fire, toilet flushing, microchips, floppy disks, light bulbs, laptops and iPods.... an interesting menagerie!

For example, No 33. Floppy disk, 1971: did you know that the first floppies, invented in 1971 by IBM geek Alan Shugart, held just 100 kilobytes; modern disks can store 1.44 megabytes. Today, the largest iPod can store the same amount of data as 113,778 floppy disks, which in a stack, would match the height of London's BT Tower. Factoid!

Read more in '101 gadgets that changed the world'

Thanks to Mobile-Society


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Broadband Internet access for high-speed trains

To follow-up from one of my earlier posts on Internet access for trains from Wednesday, October 10, 2007 where I discussed access for 2008, I now post some further developments.

A UK high-tech company that specialises in broadband Internet access on board high speed trains is to deliver the first ever true broadband Internet access to passengers travelling between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne.

21Net, as part of a consortium lead by Nokia Siemens Networks, will combine satellite, mobile phone technologies (GPRS and UMTS) with wireless networks similar to Wi-Fi Hotspots to provide a continuous Internet connection on board trains travelling at the speed of 300 km/h. The service is expected to be in full operation by 2008. According to a press release:

Next generation: jet-fighter technology enabling to equip any high speed trains

The 21Net system combines low-profile tracking antennas on the train with two-way “Ku-band” satellite transmission to deliver high bandwidth (2Mbit/s by 512kbit/s) connectivity to a master server on the train.

This unique system puts 21Net in an entirely different class to existing competitor systems, which rely on narrowband (56kbit/s) GPRS connections which are then shared between the simultaneous users on the train.

This high bandwidth can be shared by simultaneous users. On the train, WiFi (wireless LAN) connections are used between the master server and customers with WiFi enabled laptops and PDAs.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Post-PC Era?

Are we heading towards a Post-PC Era? Apparently the PC’s role in Japanese homes is diminishing, and being superceded by gadgets such as smart phones, advanced Internet-connected game consoles, and digital video recorders. Smart Mobs writes that:

The Associated Press reports:

Japan’s PC market is shrinking, leading analysts to wonder whether Japan will become the first major market to see a decline in personal computer use some 25 years after it revolutionized household electronics — and whether this could be the picture of things to come in other countries.

“Consumers aren’t impressed anymore with bigger hard drives or faster processors. That’s not as exciting as a bigger TV,” Masahiro Katayama, research group head at market survey firm IDC said. “And in Japan, kids now grow up using mobile phones, not PCs. The future of PCs isn’t bright.”

Third Chinese Bloggers Conference

The Third Chinese Bloggers Conference was held in Beijing on Saturday, Nov, 3. According to the Virtual China site:

The Third Chinese Bloggers Conference was held in Beijing yesterday, Nov, 3. Around 200 people took part in the first day event. In the two-day conference, they are going to discuss and share different opinions about various topics, such as: SNS and the First Life; Wiki in Mainland China; The Chinese Bloggesphere in western scholars' eyes and why they are wrong; Art 1.5, etc. There are many other interesting topics, which can be found here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Champion Robot Car

So the verdict is in! Carnegie Mellon's computer-laden Chevy Tahoe wins the Urban Challenge and takes home the $2 million prize:

Boss successfully drove around an urban environment, avoiding other cars, and covering 60 miles (85km) in less than six hours, all without any human control.

The modified Chevrolet Tahoe was one of six cars that crossed the finish line, from a pack of 11 robotic vehicles which set off at dawn. The others had to pull out after crashes or other problems...

...Boss navigated around a simulated town, created on a disused US Air Force base in Victorville, in the Californian desert.

It had to deal with single and dual carriageway roads, junctions, buildings and car parks. As well as the 10 other driverless cars, Boss shared the road with more than 30 professional human drivers to simulate busy traffic.


- Robot cars race around California - BBC

- Champion Robot Car Declared - TechReview

E-patients' going online

This article 'Doctors more accepting of e-patients' going online' points towards a study released this month by the Pew Internet & American Life Project which confirmed what most doctors already know: The number of e-patients is growing:

About 51 percent of those living with a disability or chronic disease go online, compared with 74 percent of the rest of the population, according to the study. But once those with illnesses get online, they become some of the most avid Internet users.

Three-fourths of e-patients say information they found on the Web affected decisions about their treatment, according to the study. Nearly 69 percent said something they found on the Internet led them to ask their doctors new questions or get a second opinion.

The health-care industry, which once discouraged people from doing Internet research, is beginning to take notice of the e- patients' rise, said Susannah Fox, associate director of the Pew project, a Washington-based nonprofit group.

Via Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #187

The Semantic Web - a smarter way to find information?

Another piece from TechReview, this time looking at how a company - Radar Networks - is releasing a free Web-based tool, called Twine, that it hopes will change the way people organize their information:

Twine is a website where people can dump information that's important to them, from strings of e-mails to YouTube videos. Or, if a user prefers, Twine can automatically collect all the Web pages she visited, e-mails she sent and received, and so on. Once Twine has some information, it starts to analyze it and automatically sort it into categories that include the people involved, concepts discussed, and places, organizations, and companies. This way, when a user is searching for something, she can have quick access to related information about it. Twine also uses elements of social networking so that a user has access to information collected by others in her network. All this creates a sort of "collective intelligence," says Nova Spivack, CEO and founder of Radar Networks.

Read in full - The Semantic Web Goes Mainstream


Friday, November 02, 2007

Zipcar and Flexcar to Merge

GreenCarCongress has picked up the merger between the two big US car-share companies Zipcar and Flexcar:

Car-sharing providers Zipcar and Flexcar will merge. The combined company will operate under the Zipcar brand and be headquartered in Cambridge, MA, led by Zipcar Chairman and CEO, Scott Griffith.

Zipcar and Flexcar currently operate car sharing programs, providing members with on-demand access to a diverse fleet of vehicles located throughout major metropolitan areas. To use the service, members reserve a vehicle online or via a mobile device, use a smartcard to open the doors, take their trip, and then return the car at the end of the reservation. An hourly or daily fee covers gas, insurance, maintenance, parking and 24-7 emergency service.

The merger comes at a time when car sharing is increasingly acknowledged as a smart urban lifestyle choice and transportation alternative. With growing competition within the industry, and more than 30 independent car sharing companies operating in the US alone, the combined Zipcar will have a stronger base from which to compete—particularly against leading car rental firms’ product introductions targeted at the car-sharing industry.

Read - Zipcar and Flexcar to Merge

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Apartment Building Social Networks

Smartmobs has a discussion on 'Apartment Building Social Networks' that engages in the debate elsewhere on the web:

Fact of the matter, Apartment Building Social Networks like are also good for local search marketing - because they create contextually relevant local real estate content to advertise on. In fact, I predicted the rise of local social networks will call for most local businesses, that still don’t have websites, will want to once they have places nearby to advertise on.