February 5th, 2006
Technicians in Ireland are testing a device capable of skipping between incompatible wireless standards by tweaking its underlying code. A report from NewScientist states:
The device can impersonate a multitude of different wireless devices since it uses reconfigurable software to carry out the tasks normally performed by static hardware… The technology promises to let future gadgets jump between frequencies and standards that currently conflict. A cellphone could, for example, automatically detect and jump to a much faster Wi-Fi network when in a local hotspot.
February 3rd, 2006
I don’t know if this report is good new or bad news and, if either, who it is good or bad for.
“The Information and Communication Ministry conducted the survey together with the National Internet Development Agency of Korea. It found that Internet use among five-year-olds surveyed was 64 percent, among four-year-olds 47 percent and among three-year-olds 34 percent. Young children on average started using the Internet at 3.2 years of age and spent on average 4.8 hours a week online. Some 93 percent of the diminutive respondents used the Internet to play games or access music, but 39 percent used the web for “study,” the survey finds.”
Maybe it’s bad for Korean preschoolers who should be playing with each other or with their Legos. Or maybe it’s bad for slothful preschoolers everywhere else who will end up working for the Koreans when they grow up. I guess it’s good for the Internet, unless the preschoolers all start blogs.
[spotted on Smart Mobs]
January 28th, 2006
Anand mentioned the (alleged) British spy rock as a good example of an advance that pervasive computing technology has wrought.
Russia’s state security service has accused British diplomats of spying in Moscow using electronic rocks. It’s an obvious hack, when you think about it — a bluetooth enabled PDA in a hollowed out rock could be used to drop off or pickup heavily encrypted documents from spys as they stroll by. The only problem would be power. Such a bluetooth rock would be much better than Alger Hiss’s pumpkin patch.
In an infamous spy case from the early days of the cold war, US State Department official Alger Hiss was accused (by a young Richard Nixon!) of passing documents via rolls of microfilm secreted in a hollowed-out pumpkin on his Maryland farm. But, technology marches on, with wireless rocks replacing pumpkins.
The March of Progress
In 1948 Alger Hiss was accused of transferring secrets using microfilm in a hollowed out pumpkin.
In 2006 the British were accused of transferring secrets using a wireless enabled PDA in a hollowed out rock.
models: Jack-o’-lantern, squash
vulnerable to: rodents, fungus, kids
pluses: organic, biodegradable
negatives: decay, rot
models: igneous, sedimentary
vulnerable to: bluejacking, spyware
pluses: tetris, plays mp3s
January 28th, 2006
A group of UMBC students working with Professor Zary Segall have built a prototype music player that senses its user’s emotional state and level of activity and picks appropriate music. The prototype system uses BodyMedia’s SenseWear, which detects continuous data from the wearer’s skin and wirelessly transmits the data stream to the xpod prototype. The physiological data includes energy expenditure (calories burned), duration of physical activity, number of steps taken, and sleep/wake states. A neural network system is used to learn associations between these biometric parameters and the user’s preferences for music and the resulting model is then used to dynamically construct the xpod’s playlist. Read more about the xpod prototype in this recent paper:
XPod a human activity and emotion aware mobile music player, Sandor Dornbush, Kevin Fisher, Kyle McKay, Alex Prikhodko and Zary Segall.
January 13th, 2006
Ping-O-Matic, a great tool and arguably the most popular update ping service is currently down. Matt blogs about a complete revamp. Apparently their current system was accepting pings on just one box!. Technorati is helping them out.
Most of us don’t even bother to check which update ping services our blog software notifies automatically. Now, is this a good enough motivation to notify additional update ping services ? If yes, who is set to gain? Given the recent valuation of weblogs.com, a short downtime of Ping-O-Matic might well create another multi-million dollar asset.
Attention WordPress users!!! from Nick Starr, Ping-o-Matic is offline from Jeff Smith, Pingomatic is gone from Alan Fraser.
January 10th, 2006
XPOD is a prototype portable music player that can sense a user’s context — what she is doing, her level of activity, mood, etc. — and that to refine its playlist. The device monitors several external variables from a streaming version of the BodyMedia SenseWear to model the user’s context and predict the most appropriate music genre via a neural network.
December 25th, 2005
German engineers are working on a new smart car that knows how to find empty parking spaces and park itself.
Parkmate, which is expected to be available from 2008, is part of a battery of technology being developed by Siemens VDO, one of the world’s major suppliers of in-car electronics.
December 15th, 2005
As the size of the Web gets bigger and bigger, search engines such as Yahoo! and Google may be too general for building applications that focus on some particular domain of information. To solve this problem, Alexa provides a web search platform that allows people to define their own search engine.
Although you have to pay for the service, but it definitely looks promising. Alexa crawl works over 100 Terabytes of Web content spanning 4 billion pages and 8 million sites, and support a wide variety of types of content from the Web (jpgs, gifs, mp3s, movies. text/html, and even metadata). How does Alexa work?
November 27th, 2005
Here is what a smart doorknob can do.
“When you approach the door and you’re carrying groceries, it opens and lets you in. This doorknob is so smart, it can let the dog out but it won’t let six dogs come back in.
It will take FedEx packages and automatically sign for you when you’re not there. If you’re standing by the door, and a phone call comes in, the doorknob can tell you that ‘you’ve got a phone call from your son that I think you should take.”
This smart doorknob is part of a MIT research project called “Internet of Things” (see IHT). An interesting thing about this system is that it relies on the extensive usage of RFID tags. When it comes to RFID technology, some people are very worried, and some others are very excited.
November 14th, 2005
Shanghai might be China’s business hub, but getting to a meeting on time has always been a problem because of the high demand for taxis. Starting this week, Shanghai residents can now hail a taxi using their mobile phones and a new wireless short message service (SMS).
The Shanghai Taxi Control Center has launched a “Booking Taxi Via Short Message” service to ease citizens’ transportation needs.
After citizens input their name, location, destination and starting time, and indicate the traffic details nearby, they only need to send the message to 96965. The control center will relay them with a message to confirm the booking and then send a taxi to the required place within 10 minutes.