Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Border Agency plans Olympic identity card

The Register reports that the Border Agency is developing a 'pretty inclusive and far reaching' Olympic accreditation card for the 2012 games:

The card will provide access to both the county and to the venues, chief executive Lin Homer told the Secure Document World conference in London on 23 April 2008.

When asked by GC News about the extent of the card's use, Homer said the agency was "in the fairly early stages" of developing it. But she added: "To the extent that we can develop a system that ticks as many boxes as we can, we will do that.

"My hope it that it will be a pretty inclusive and far reaching offering, but we have still got a little bit of time and a lot of work," she added, describing the project as an opportunity to develop processes that can then be used permanently.

Homer said Project Semaphore, the forerunner of the e-Borders scheme which will eventually record extensive data on all international passenger movements, has led to 1,700 arrests. The agency will start procurement of e-Borders this summer.

The agency has no plans to verify the biometrics of everyone entering and leaving the UK. "I don't think as a key public service we would want to oblige (the use of) biometrics," she said.

Read in full - 'Border Agency plans Olympic identity card'

Electric Cars Primer

TechReview has a piece on hybrids, plug-ins, and extended-range electric cars that are hitting the market and offers an interactive primer to learn how they work:

Hybrids such as Toyota's Prius have become a common sight. Now major automakers are proposing a next generation of hybrids that can be plugged in to extend their electric range and vastly improve fuel economy. This interactive graphic shows how conventional hybrids work, as well as how two versions of these proposed plug-in hybrids, one labeled "Plug-in Hybrid" and the other "Extended-Range Electric," work. Each of these plug-in hybrids operates differently when the battery is charged versus when it is largely depleted. Click on one of the five buttons above to view animations of how the vehicles operate under different driving conditions. Each vehicle operates during a stylized drive cycle, starting at low speeds, accelerating to highway speeds, and then decelerating to a stop. If at any time you'd like to pause the animation or select a different part of the drive cycle, click on the appropriate section of the graph at the bottom right of the graphic.

Read in full and go to interactive primer - 'Electric Cars Primer'

Monday, April 28, 2008

Urban food deserts in major cities

This article examines the rise of food deserts in major cities - places in urban areas where people have low or no access to food shops:

Canadian researchers at the University of Western Ontario have studied the evolution of food deserts in urban areas. Food deserts are areas where people have low or no access to food shops. In other words, they are neighburhoods with low average home incomes and poor access to healthy food. As said the lead researcher, 'Poor people with no car can be severely adversely affected by living in food deserts and are more likely to suffer from bad health and low quality of life with diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.' But what is the major cause of food desertification? Supermarkets, because they are built in new suburbs while smaller food shops are disappearing from city centers. But read more...

Food desertification in London, Ontario

Think how this situation will be exacerbated by the current rise in food prices, as well as falling supplies?

Read article - 'Urban food deserts in major cities'

From - Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends

Cars should plug-in to a new future

The WWF have just released a report that claims a 'dramatically expanded use of plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles would be a way to a transport future that doesn't risk climate catastrophe':

Such a move would also reduce the risk of conflict over less oil more and more concentrated in relatively unstable areas of the world.

Plugged In: The End of the Oil Age considers the future of a transport sector now 95 per cent dependent on liquid hydrocarbon fuels and examines the impacts and practicalities of electric, coal-to-liquid, gas-to-liquid, natural gas and hydrogen powered transport for the future

It finds that vehicles running solely or partly on grid-connected electricity are more efficient and less greenhouse gas intensive than all alternatives, even with most power now being generated using fossil fuels.

Go to main site


Friday, April 25, 2008

Face scans for air passengers to begin in UK

The Guardian newspaper has a revealing story on howface scans for air passengers are to begin in UK, with trials conducted this summer at UK airports:

From summer, unmanned clearance gates will be phased in to scan passengers' faces and match the image to the record on the computer chip in their biometric passports.

Border security officials believe the machines can do a better job than humans of screening passports and preventing identity fraud. The pilot project will be open to UK and EU citizens holding new biometric passports...

...The trials emerged at a conference in London this week of the international biometrics industry, top civil servants in border control, and police technology experts. Gary Murphy, head of operational design and development for the UK Border Agency, told one session: "We think a machine can do a better job [than manned passport inspections]. What will the public reaction be? Will they use it? We need to test and see how people react and how they deal with rejection. We hope to get the trial up and running by the summer.

Read in full - 'Face scans for air passengers to begin in UK'

China becomes world's largest Internet population

Reuters have announced that China has now become the world's largest Internet population:

China has surpassed the United States to become the world's largest Internet-using population, reaching 221 million by the end of February, state media said on Thursday.

The number of Internet users in China was 210 million at the end of last year, only 5 million fewer than the U.S. Internet users then, Xinhua news agency said, quoting the China Internet Network Information Centre.

Read more - 'China becomes world's largest Internet population'

Thursday, April 24, 2008

US to spy on British motorists

The UK newspaper The Telegraph has a worrying article about how private data taken by roadside cameras in the UK may be sent abroad, specifically to the US for data-mining:

The discovery that images of cars captured on road-side cameras, and "personal data" derived from them, including number plates, can be sent overseas, has angered MPs and civil liberties groups concerned by the increasing use of "Big Brother" surveillance tactics.

Images captured by road-side cameras will be made available to foreign authorities
Images of private cars, as well as registration numbers, could be sent outside to countries such as the USA

Yesterday, politicians and civil liberties groups accused the Home Secretary of keeping the plans to export pictures secret from Parliament when she announced last year that British anti-terrorism police could access "real time" images from cameras used in the running of London's congestion charge.

A statement by Miss Smith to Parliament on July 17, 2007, detailing the exemptions for police from the 1998 Data Protection Act, did not mention other changes that would permit material to be sent outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to the authorities in the US and elsewhere.

Her permission to do so was hidden away in an earlier "special certificate" signed by the Home Secretary on July 4.

Read in full - 'New anti-terrorism rules 'allow US to spy on British motorists''

This week in 1960: Lancaster bypass

An anniversary for Lancaster! This short article reports how the Lancaster bypass was completed this week 60 years ago:

It Is hard to imagine a time when the UK wasn't criss-crossed with congested motorways.

But less than 50 years ago, if you wanted to travel the length and breadth of the country, you had to do so on single-carriageway roads.

Here The Engineer reported on the completion of the Lancaster Bypass, an 11.5-mile stretch of road by-passing the city of Lancaster, and forming a small part of what eventually became the UK's longest motorway, the M6. Further South, motorists were already able to sample the delights of 'motor-road' driving on the Preston bypass, an eight-mile stretch of road that was the first length of motorway in the country.

It was, reported the magazine, a considerable engineering challenge. 'the road climbs to a maximum height of about 300ft above sea level, with views over the sea and the Lakeland hills. The highest embankment is just over 40ft, and the deepest cut about 30ft. The total quantity of excavation was about 1.7 million cubic yards, including over 160,000 cubic yards of peat.'

Original article - 'This week in 1960: Lancaster bypass'

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mobilities Journal

Recently there was the AAG reception for the Mobilities Journal (pictured) in Boston, US.

According to our accounts the journal had a good reception and picked up a few more subscribers. Mind you, the journal is always on the look-out for good and innovative papers.

Areas of Interest

Papers in the following areas would be considered for publication in Mobilities:

  • Travel and communications
  • Migration, diasporas & families
  • Tourism and business travel
  • Mobile risks
  • New social networks
  • Transportation & communication technologies
  • Mobilities and new social exclusions
For more information contact Managing Editor Pennie Drinkall

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

VR study says 40% of us are paranoid

This post from Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends reports that:

UK researchers have recently used virtual reality (VR) to check if people had paranoid thoughts when using public transportation. Their VR tube ride experiment revealed that 40% of the participants experienced exaggerated fears about threats from others. Until now, researchers were relying on somewhat unreliable questionnaires to study paranoid thoughts which are often triggered by ambiguous events such as someone laughing behind their back. With the use of VR, psychiatrists and psychologists have a new tool which can reliably recreates social interactions. As said the lead researcher, VR 'is a uniquely powerful method to detect those liable to misinterpret other people.' But read more...

Read in full - 'VR study says 40% of us are paranoid'

Social networking sites to go 3D

NewScientistTech reports on the potential move to make social networking sites go three-dimensional:

Start-up company Vivaty of Menlo Park, California, is creating a hybrid of conventional social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace and virtual worlds like Second Life. Rather than filling a web page with photos, a list of hobbies and their favourite software applications, as users of Facebook do today, Vivaty users will get access to a virtual room. They can adorn the walls with photos, watch a virtual television that plays YouTube or invite friends over to join them.

Instead of chatting by sending each other messages, Vivaty users will be able to speak "in person" via 3D avatars. Vivaty will be offered to Facebook users this year.

Read 'Social networking sites to go 3D' (subscription required)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Belfast to get rapid transit network

BBCNews reports on how Belfast will become home to a new bus-based rapid transit network:

Belfast cannot justify the cost of a light rail system, like the Luas in Dublin, to ease traffic congestion, commuters are being told. Instead, a report by the Department for Regional Development, said a high class bus-based network could cut commuting times while costing significantly less.

Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy said a new bus network for Belfast was affordable and realistic. Northern Ireland taxpayers now look set to invest more than £100m...

...Three pilot routes are suggested, running from Dundonald in the east to the city centre, to one serving the development in Titanic Quarter and onwards to Queen's University and the City Hospital and thirdly one into the west from the city centre to the Royal Victoria Hospital and beyond into west Belfast.

Officials are stressing that the three routes represent a start. Further lines could be added in the future.

Read article - 'City to get rapid transit network'

One Avatar, Many Worlds

TechReview has this post on how companies want to let users carry their avatar identities online:

An avatar, the image a person uses in a virtual world, is currently bound to the particular world in which it was created. But at the Virtual Worlds Conference 2008 in New York City last week, several companies showcased their efforts to allow people to carry their avatars from one virtual world to another, and even out onto ordinary Web pages. These developments point to a convergence between virtual worlds and social networks.

Are we gradually losing the physical self - or creating a spare one?

Read in full - 'One Avatar, Many Worlds'

Saturday, April 19, 2008

All drivers can become mapmakers

This interesting post talks about a large European project on car and road safety that has developed a system that will read satellite navigation maps and warn the driver of upcoming hazards: 'sharp bends, dips and accident black spots – which may be invisible to the driver. Even better, the system can update the geographic database. Suddenly, all drivers can become mapmakers':

You are driving along an unfamiliar road, using your satellite navigation to find your way. But clever technology in your car is also tracking the route, looking at the terrain, and upcoming bends and intersections. It has information on accident blind spots, dips in the road, and more. Linking into other in-car wireless communication systems, it can even communicate with other vehicles in the vicinity.

Read original post - 'Map reading for dummies'

Friday, April 18, 2008

Every move - Tracked by RFID tags

A UW RFID Ecosystem alert

Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends takes another peek into the developing world of RFID tracking and the latest experiments:

researchers at the University of Washington would like to know if the future of social networking could be affected by these tags and check the balance between privacy and utility. They've deployed 200 antennas in one UW building and a dozen researchers are carrying RFID tags on them. According to the Seattle Times, all their moves are tracked every second in the building. Of course, it can be practical to know if a colleague is available for a cup of coffee. Still, it has of implications for privacy. As the lead researcher said, 'what we want to understand is what makes it useful, what makes it threatening and how to balance the two.' But read more...

Read article - 'Every move you make tracked by RFID tags'

Lost your luggage? RFID tags could help

C/Net News jumps into the debate around using RFID tags and the luggage-at-airports situation/issue. They say that last year 34 million bags got lost globally at airports:

This cost the aviation industry $3.6 billion. One way to reduce the amount of mishandled luggage could be to switch from today's widespread bar-code tagging system to more sensitive radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The IATA estimates that $200 million could be saved each year by such a swap at the world's top 80 airports.

That is exactly what RFID manufacturers like Alien Technology are dreaming about. With updated chip technology announced Monday, the Morgan Hill, Calif.-based company is targeting the aviation and pharmaceutical industries. But it will take a while before we see the tags in chewing gum packages and soda cans.

Alien says its new H3 integrated circuit (a more advanced version of the H2) boasts heightened reader sensitivity and improved security features, making it possible for third parties to read the tag's data, but not to change it.

Is the RFID 'revolution' just a matter of time now??

Read in full - 'Lost your luggage? RFID tags could help'

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nomads at Last - a special report on mobility

The Economist has a special report on mobility and how wireless communication is changing the way people work, live, love and relate to places—and each other:

As a word, vision and goal, modern urban nomadism has had the mixed blessing of a premature debut. In the 1960s and 70s Herbert Marshall McLuhan, the most influential media and communications theorist ever, pictured nomads zipping around at great speed, using facilities on the road and all but dispensing with their homes. In the 1980s Jacques Attali, a French economist who was advising president François Mitterrand at the time, used the term to predict an age when rich and uprooted elites would jet around the world in search of fun and opportunity, and poor but equally uprooted workers would migrate in search of a living. In the 1990s Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners jointly wrote the first book with “digital nomad” in the title, adding the bewildering possibilities of the latest gadgets to the vision.

But all of those early depictions and predictions of nomadism arguably missed the point. The mobile lifestyles currently taking shape around the world are nothing like those described in the old books.

Full article - 'Nomads at last'

More sections from the special report:

The new oases

Family ties

Location, location, location

A world of witnesses

Homo mobilis

Thanks to mobile-society and Rich L. for the heads-up!


Friday, April 11, 2008

The Rise of the Air Taxi

The Wired blog has a post on the increase in the air-taxi:

a company called dayjet is looking to change the way people look at air travel. How? By using a fleet of tiny Eclipse 500 Jets to inexpensively shuttle passengers back and forth to wherever it is they need to go, whenever it is that they need to get there. Anyone who has spent two hours sitting on a runway while sandwiched into the middle seat of a 25-year old MD-80 can see the appeal of this idea.

People are calling dayjet an air taxi service, and that’s essentially what it is. Let’s say I need to go from Melbourne, Florida to Mobile, Alabama. I log into the dayjet website to book my trip, entering the time that I need to get to Mobile, and when I’m available to leave. The site calculates the cost of my trip, giving me a discount if I have some flexibility in travel times.

Still, not for the average traveller, I fear.

Read full post - 'Climb Aboard the Air Taxi'

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rise of the Carbon-Neutral City

BusinessWeek has a good run down of some of the higher-profile green city megaprojects in its article Rise of the Carbon-Neutral City. The post reminds us that 'several ambitious plans around the world envision green cities, but such projects raise as many questions as they promise to answer':

In the windswept deserts of Abu Dhabi, construction is under way on a green oasis planners say represents one of the most ambitious urban building projects ever. On Feb. 7, the United Arab Emirates-funded consortium behind Masdar City, a zero-carbon, zero-waste, self-contained community meant to house 50,000 people, finally broke ground, launching the first of seven building phases to be completed over the next eight years. All told, the $22 billion megaproject will include cutting-edge solar power and water treatment systems, nonpolluting underground light rail, and a small research university operated in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Foster & Partners-designed Masdar project (, 12/13/07) is no doubt a bid to diversify the UAE's petroleum-rich economy as well as green the country's image. But more important, it is the latest in a growing list of high-profile, high-promise, environmentally friendly city design projects around the world. With mounting concerns over global warming and exploding urban populations, the race to design and build the model "green city of the future" is on. The sites proposed are of such scale and complexity that they represent a major new front in green innovation.

Read more at - 'Rise of the Carbon-Neutral City'


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Why the demise of civilisation may be inevitable

NewScientist takes a complexity approach to the rise and fall of civilizations and questions whether our own global society may not itself be heading towards a vulnerable breakdown:

Recent insights from fields such as complexity theory suggest that the very nature of civilization means that ours, like previous civilizations, is destined to collapse sooner or later.

It appears that once a society develops beyond a certain level of complexity it becomes increasingly fragile. Eventually, the tipping point is reached when all the energy and resources available to a society are required just to maintain its existing level of complexity, says archaeologist Joseph Tainter and author of the 1988 book The Collapse of Complex Societies.

Then when the climate changes or barbarians invade, overstretched institutions break down and civil order collapses, aggravated by tightly coupled networks that create the potential for propagating failure across many critical industries.

What emerges is a less complex society, organized on a smaller scale or that has been taken over by another group, and loss of our hard-earned knowledge. Possible solutions include distributed and decentralized production of vital goods like energy and food and adding redundancy to the electrical grid and other networks.

Read original article - 'Why the demise of civilisation may be inevitable' (subscription required)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Matrix-style virtual worlds 'a few years away'

According to NewScientistTech supercomputers may be on the verge of creating Matrix-style simulated realities:

Michael McGuigan at Brookhaven National Laboratory thinks so, and has used the Lab's Blue Gene/L supercomputer to generate a photorealistic, real-time artificial world. He found that conventional ray-tracing software could run 822 times faster on the Blue Gene/L than on a standard computer, allowing it to convincingly mimic natural lighting in real time.

The ultimate objective is to pass the "Graphics Turing Test," in which a human judge viewing and interacting with an artificially generated world should be unable to reliably distinguish it from reality.

He believes that should be possible in the next few years, once supercomputers enter the petaflop range, along with parallel computing.

Read article - 'Matrix-style virtual worlds 'a few years away''

More avatars now than there are people in the USA

A striking bit of news from Smartomobs- is this to be worrying, or a sign of progress?

The more avatars than Americans stat is one of many things I learned about the 3D Net edge by spending two days last week at Virtual Worlds 2008 in New York. Avatar mobbing is virtually here for sure. A keynote by described the girls’ virtual world sensation, where 11 million are signed up and thousands more join every day. Another huge virtual world toy phenomenon is neopets, where the toy in a child’s hand has a virtual life online. The virtual world of gaming also contributes huge portions of the avatar population.

Why not let avatars vote? It might help to increase voter turn out...

Read article here


Monday, April 07, 2008

Latest - Europe clears mobiles on aircraft

BBCNews has the latest on the decision to allow mobile phone calls on planes flying in European airspace under new European Commission rules:

The decision means that mobiles could be used once a plane has reached an altitude of 3,000m or more. It follows six months of consultation by the European regulator and the first services could launch next month. Viviane Reding, the EU telecoms commissioner, has warned operators to keep the cost of calls made on planes at a reasonable level.

"If consumers receive shock phone bills, the service will not take-off.

"I also call on airlines and operators to create the right conditions on board aircraft to ensure that those who want to use in-flight communication services do not disturb other passengers," she said.

The European Commission has introduced new rules to harmonise the technical requirements for the safe in-flight use of mobile phones.

Read in full - 'Europe clears mobiles on aircraft'

Computers to merge with humans

BBCNews has this recent post on the subject of human-machine interface, both positive yet with a caveat:

By 2020 the terms "interface" and "user" will be obsolete as computers merge ever closer with humans. It is one prediction in a Microsoft-backed report drawn from the discussions of 45 academics from the fields of computing, science, sociology and psychology.

It predicts fundamental changes in the field of so-called Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). By 2020 humans will increasingly interrogate machines, the report said. In turn computers will be able to anticipate what we want from them, which will require new rules about our relationship with machines...

...Boundaries between humans and computers will become blurred over the next decade as devices are embedded in objects, our clothing or, in the case of medical monitoring, in our bodies...The ever-present network will channel mass market information directly to us while disseminating our own intimate information.

However, the report also warns that this coming 'era of so-called hyper-connectivity' 'will mean a growth in "techno-dependency". This ever more intimate relationship between humans and computers will be a double-edged sword'.

Read more at 'Computers to merge with humans'

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Weather Engineering in China

TechReview have an interesting post on how the Chinese plan to modify the weather in Beijing during the Olympics, using supercomputers and artillery. Now the weather is becoming 'mobile' in the hands of new technology. Is this the beginning of terraforming in the light of dramatic earth changes, one wonders?

To prevent rain over the roofless 91,000-seat Olympic stadium that Beijing natives have nicknamed the Bird's Nest, the city's branch of the national Weather Modification Office--itself a department of the larger China Meteorological Administration--has prepared a three-stage program for the 2008 Olympics this August.

First, Beijing's Weather Modification Office will track the region's weather via satellites, planes, radar, and an IBM p575 supercomputer, purchased from Big Blue last year, that executes 9.8 trillion floating point operations per second. It models an area of 44,000 square kilometers (17,000 square miles) accurately enough to generate hourly forecasts for each kilometer.

Then, using their two aircraft and an array of twenty artillery and rocket-launch sites around Beijing, the city's weather engineers will shoot and spray silver iodide and dry ice into incoming clouds that are still far enough away that their rain can be flushed out before they reach the stadium.


Read full - 'Weather Engineering in China'

Friday, April 04, 2008

AA to use scooters to beat jams

BBCNews reports that the UK Automobile Association (AA) is getting on their bikes....

AA patrols are to use electric scooters and motorbikes to beat traffic congestion and get to breakdowns in central London.

The three-month trial coincides with the publication of figures by the AA that showed the average central London traffic speed is just 10mph.

The new patrols trial is the first time the AA has used bikes to attend breakdowns since the mid-1990s.

It says the bikes will be able to reach breakdowns up to 25% quicker.

The AA has compiled a city speed league table, with the Bristol average worst at 16.8mph, followed by 16.9mph for the whole of London.

The next-slowest cities were Glasgow - 17.3mph - followed by Southampton and Liverpool, both 17.8mph, and then Manchester with 18.8mph.

Read article - 'AA to use scooters to beat jams'

Making Electric Vehicles Practical

TechReview discusses how new infrastructure may help launch electric cars in Israel and Denmark:

A new approach to selling and recharging electric cars could overcome some of the basic issues that have kept them from being widely adopted. A startup called Project Better Place, which had the largest of any venture-funding round in 2007, raising $200 million, recently announced plans to install recharging infrastructure in Israel and Denmark and to sell electric cars using a business model much like that used today with cell phones.

The company aims to address two limitations of electric vehicles: their range is considerably less than gasoline-powered cars, and the batteries take hours to recharge from ordinary outlets. To solve the first problem, says CEO and founder Shai Agassi, Project Better Place is installing a vast grid of outlets at parking spaces throughout the country, which will allow drivers to keep batteries topped off during the day. In Israel, the company will install 500,000 outlets--one for every six parking spaces in the country--with a similar number slated for Denmark.

Read in full - 'Making Electric Vehicles Practical'

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Internet use in China

A post over at The Future of Cities mentions some date on Internet use in China, which is revealing as to the urban/rural split:

  • Number of Internet users, 12/2007: 210 million (compare with U.S. at 215 million...getting close)
  • Penetration: 5% rural/20% urban/45% Beijing, Shanghai
  • 60% of population is rural; vast majority not online, mainly because of “not understanding how to use computer” but also because of lack of infrastructure
  • 3 of every 100 rural households has computer; 47 of every 100 urban households has computer
  • About 1/3 using commercial Internet cafés
  • Rural migrant workers are paying highest monthly rates for Internet use: they value it highly and they will drive diffusion
  • Cost: 900 yuan a year for home broadband, compared with about 600 in Internet café;
  • Average price of 100Kbps of broadband in China costs $10.85 per month, about 20x US costs
  • Chinese users pay average 10% of monthly income
  • Mobile: About one-quarter have ever used mobile to go online in last 6 months, of those about half are between ages of 18-24, and two-thirds of total are men.

Read the original post here

Paris Mayor plans self-service electric car sharing scheme

This post mentions how the Mayor of Paris is planning to introduce a self-service electric and/or hybrid-electric car system:

The Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, re-elected on 25th March, plans to invest more funds both in public transport and in a self-service electric and/or hybrid-electric car system called ‘autolib’. Starting with about 2,000 cars and 300 free recharging stations, the system would aim to reduce congestion and urban emissions.

The proposed service, modelled on a car sharing programme in Lyon started up at the beginning of this year, is expected to cost subscribers around €250 per month. The Norwegian electric city car manufacturer is reportedly preparing a bid to supply vehicles for the project.

Read in full - 'Paris Mayor plans self-service electric car sharing scheme'

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Phones with feeling are more useful

NewScientistTech reports on phones with feelings that could be useful:

University of Glasgow researchers say typing errors on handheld device screens can be reduced by using actuators like those that make cellphones vibrate.

The group used software to make the actuator move in different ways, such as smoothly or jerkily, to give the feel of keys.

The team found that cell-phone users' typing speed and accuracy were significantly closer to results they achieved using a real keyboard.

Read article - 'Phones with feeling are more useful' (subscription required for full text)

`Tracing Mobilities`

The first Cosmobilities book `Tracing Mobilities` is out now. Looking at the content and reviews, it seems a major book in this area:

Tracing Mobilities: Towards a Cosmopolitan Perspective
Edited by Weert Canzler, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, Germany,
Vincent Kaufmann, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne,
Switzerland and Sven Kesselring, Technische Universität
München, Germany

To order, please visit:

And, if you buy the book through Ashgate directly you will receive a discount.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

NEW! - The Wind-Up Car

According to this AutoblogGreen report you can now add a wind-up option to some cars - great for that all-round efficiency:

If you belong to the segment of the population that thinks that the newly-offered-in-America smart fortwo is not manly enough, adding a wind-up key accessory to the hind-end of your new city car isn't likely to help. For those of you who couldn't care less what other people think of you (and think that the idea of adding a wind-up key to your cute car makes it über-cute), may we suggest going to distance and choosing the version which is actually powered, so it "un-winds" as you drive. You know, if you're going to do something, you may as well just do it right.

It's good to know that in an age of diminishing fossil fuels and humour we can still look out for a good wind-up option.....