Monday, December 18, 2006

The smallest mobile phone

BloodRabbit designs the concent of the smallest mobile phone.

This is my concept phone,
I made it after I got annoyed at all the useless features on my phone (last night).

This phone can only be used to call with, no sms, mms, camera or garage opener.

Im not sure if all the componnets needed can fit in my tiny phone, but hey its a concept modell.

Explaining the button system, hmm when you but your fingertip (tumb) in the grove on the 123 button,
you get 1 by manipulateing it to the left, 3 to the right and 2 by pressing the button down (if this dont explain it well enough I hope the picture will fill in the gaps.

the big silver button on top releases the spring loaded display to get called ID and to recieve you press it again while the display is out, to hang up a call you simply close the display by pushing it in (and loading the spring again).

The display is a lcd of the old calculator type whitout the reflective backing, so its seetrough.

Source here

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Leaf - Open source robot using artificial intelligence and vision

The Leaf is an artificial intelligence and vision robotic system. It is open source, software and construction details are available on the Leaf Project Web site. Make your own OSS Aibo!
$ Cost of computer parts, etc (~$2k)

The objectives of this project is:
Design and build a robot which will be computationally powerful, easy to work on, large enough to operate in a real world house environment and interact with the same household features that humans do, and be (of course) relatively inexpensive.

It should have the hardware and software capacities to carry a reasonable weight, operate for hours at a time, and perform memory and throughput intensive tasks such as vision, speech recognition and generation, and sophisticated artificial intelligence techniques.

The robot should be constructed using, as far as practical, commonly available hardware and software; preferably free or inexpensive. Standard PC equipment and software will be used for the "intelligence".

The design should be flexible enough to accommodate future changes easily including alternate drive systems (e.g. tracks), addition of an arm(s), addition of animated head, etc.

In particular, the robot should provide a good platform for research into AI, vision and navigation.

The robot design will be well documented on the web so that anyone else can duplicate our design or use our methods to design their own robot.

A suggested order of build might be:

1. Build the base and motor/drivetrain and verify it will be able to move your robot around.

2. Build the body on top of the base and make shelves and attachments to install the battery, microcontroller board, laptop PC and other PC components.

3. Build the microcontroller board and test it.

4. Add wiring to power and interface all the components

5. Add software and GO.

6. Adding sensors can be done last and will depend on what you want to do. Most programming for sensor interfacing will be done in the laptop Nav and Control software.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Pen-style computer concept from NEC

A Pen-style Personal Networking Gadget Package
It seems that information terminals are infinitely getting smaller. However, we will continue to manipulate them with our hands for now. We have visualized the connection between the latest technology and the human, in a form of a pen. P-ISM is a gadget package including five functions: a pen-style cellular phone with a handwriting data input function, virtual keyboard, a very small projector, camera scanner, and personal ID key with cashless pass function. P-ISMs are connected with one another through short-range wireless technology. The whole set is also connected to the Internet through the cellular phone function. This personal gadget in a minimalistic pen style enables the ultimate ubiquitous computing.

from here

Sunday, December 10, 2006


by Jeane Manning

When Leonardo da Vinci sketched out an impossible invention, fifteenth-century scholars probably put him down. Forget it, Leon. If machines could fly, we'd know about it.

Throughout history, experts tell innovators that their inventions are impossible. A few examples:
The English Academy of Science laughed at Benjamin Franklin when he reported his discovery of the lightning rod, and the Academy refused to publish his report.
A gathering of German engineers in 1902 ridiculed Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin for claiming to invent a steerable balloon. (Later, Zeppelin airships flew commercially across the Atlantic.)
Major newspapers ignored the historic 1903 flight of the Wright brothers airplane because Scientific American suggested the flight was a hoax, and for five years officials in Washington, D.C. did not believe that the heavier-than-air machine had flown.

Perhaps in the 21st century the following inventions will be standard science, and a history student may wonder why 20th-century pundits disregarded them.

This class of inventions could wipe out oil crises and help solve environmental problems. More commonly called free energy or fuelless electric generators, they put out more power than goes into them from any previously recognized source. No batteries, no fuel tank and no link with a wall socket. Instead, they tap an invisible source of power. Such unorthodox clean energy-producing devices exist today and were built as far back as the l9th century.

Forget the Rube Goldberg mechanical perpetual motion contraptions; they had to stop eventually. In contrast, new solid-state (no moving parts) energy converters are said to draw from an energy field in surrounding space. This source of abundant power is known by physicists as the zero-point quantum fluctuations of vacuum space. Zero-point refers to the fact that even at a temperature at which heat movement in molecules stops cold, zero degrees Kelvin, there is still a jiggling movement, said to be from interdimensional fluctuations or cosmic energy. Magnetism and vortexian or spin-upon-a-spin motions seem to line up these random fluctuations of space and put them to work, as in the Searl Effect (Atlantis Rising, first issue).

Inventors give various names to their space-energy converters. In the 1930s a scientist in Utah, T. Henry Moray, invented a Radiant Energy device powered from the sea of energy in which the earth floats. This sea that surrounds us, Moray said, is packed with rays which constantly pierce the earth from all directions, perhaps from countless galaxies. Converting this cosmic background radiation into a strange cold form of electricity, his device lit incandescent bulbs, heated a flat iron and ran a motor. His sons say he was thanked with bullets and other harassments, but that's another story.

A spiritual commune in Switzerland had a tabletop free energy device running in greenhouses for years, but members feared that outsiders would turn the technology into weaponry. Before the commune closed its doors to snoopers, European engineers witnessed the converter putting out thousands of watts. However, most other unorthodox energy technologies are still at the stage of unreliable, crude prototypes. (So was the Wrights first airplane; it only flew about a hundred feet.)

The inventor of AC (alternating current) electrical generating and transmission systems, the genius Nikola Tesla (1857-1943), was said to have run a Pierce-Arrow car on a free energy device in the 1930s. Although that's difficult to document now, we have his word that it's possible. It is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature, said Tesla.

It may have been done before Tesla's time. Among the free energy inventions of John Worrell Keely (1827-1898) is the Hydro Pneumo-Pulsating-Vacuo motor that used cavitation (implosion) of water. Although Keely reached an advanced understanding of the science of vibrations, he failed to develop machines which other people could operate. Progress continues from other directions, a company in Georgia is selling water cavitation devices that range from 110 per cent to 300 per cent efficient.

Up in Vancouver, Canada, Tesla researcher John Hutchison says he has a feel for the natural flows of a subtle primal energy. In the spring of 1995 he showed his latest invention to the author and a mechanical engineer. The Hutchison Converter involves crystalline materials and the principle of electrical resonance. He twirls a few knobs to tune it, and the energy flow is amplified until it runs a one-inch diameter Radio Shack motor. The whirring of a small propeller isn't too impressive until you remember that there are no batteries and the device runs for days at a time.

The garage inventors come from many backgrounds. Wingate Lambertson Ph.D. of Florida, former executive director of Kentucky's science and technology commission, invented a device which converts the space energy fluctuations into electricity which lights a row of lamps. This dignified former professor took a roundabout route to the free-energy scene. In the mid-1960s he read There Is a River by Thomas Sugree, who writes about the destruction of Atlantis through misuse of a crystal energy collector. Lambertson's psychic friend later offered to collaborate on replicating the first Atlantean energy converter, but Lambertson eventually turned to his own knowledge of ceramics and metals to develop an energy converter. Neither his nor other known zero-point energy conversion methods of today are based on the first Atlantean crystal method, because the researchers found better methods. Also, the concept of a central power station providing electric power to a nation is obsolete, says Dr. Lambertson. Small energy converters will follow the path of the personal converter.


In Japan, cold fusion is called New Hydrogen Energy, and that oil-dependent nation welcomes successful experiments. In contrast, two pioneering experimenters were hounded out of North America. David Lewis described this scene as Heavy Watergate in Atlantis Rising, issue two.

Update: A successful experiment was served up in Monte Carlo in April, at the Fifth International Conference on Cold Fusion. Clean Energy Technologies Inc. of Florida demonstrated a cold fusion cell with energy output as much as ten times more than input. Other companies are also gambling on this new source of heat energy which could drive electric generators.

What exactly causes atomic nuclei to fuse, and release energy, without extreme high temperatures and pressures? A Romanian physicist writing in Infinite Energy magazine, Dr. Peter Gluck, wonders if it could be only partly a catalytic nuclear effect, and partly a catalytic quantum effect providing the capture of the zero-point energy, The ubiquitous z-p energy.


Another variation on the water-fuel theme relies more on vibrations than on chemistry. At more than 100 per cent efficiency, such a system produces hydrogen gas and oxygen from ordinary water at normal temperatures and pressure.

One example is U.S. Patent 4,394,230, Method and Apparatus for Splitting Water Molecules, issued to Dr. Andrija Puharich in 1983. His method made complex electrical wave forms resonate water molecules and shatter them, which freed hydrogen and oxygen. By using Tesla's understanding of electrical resonance, Puharich was able to split the water molecule much more efficiently than the brute-force electrolysis that every physics student knows. (Resonance is what shatters a crystal goblet when an opera singer hits the exact note which vibrates with the crystal's molecular structure.)

Puharich reportedly drove his mobile home using only water as fuel for several hundred thousand kilometers in trips across North America. In a high Mexican mountain pass he had to make do with snow for fuel. Splitting water molecules as needed in a vehicle is more revolutionary than the hydrogen-powered systems with which every large auto manufacturer has dallied. With the on-demand system, you don't need to carry a tank full of hydrogen fuel which could be a potential bomb.

Another inventor who successfully made fuel out of water on the spot was the late Francisco Pacheco of New Jersey. The Pacheco Bi-Polar Autoelectric Hydrogen Generator (U.S. Patent No. 5,089,107) separated hydrogen from seawater as needed.

A pioneer in breaking down water into hydrogen and oxygen without heat or ordinary electricity, John Worrell Keely reportedly performed feats which 20th-century science is unable to duplicate. He worked with sound and other vibrations to set machines into motion. To liberate energy in molecules of water, Keely poured a quart of water into a cylinder where tuning forks vibrated at the exact frequency to liberate the energy. Does this mean he broke apart the water molecules and liberated hydrogen, or did he free a more primal form of energy? The records which could answer such questions are lost. However, a century later, Keely is being vindicated. One scientist recently discovered that Keely was correct in predicting the exact frequency which would burst apart a water molecule. Keely understood atoms to be intricate vibratory phenomena.


Look, Mom Earth, no power lines!

Tesla may have wanted to voice such a boast, but it didn't turn out that way; the world is crisscrossed with transmission lines for the electrical power grid. His invention for sending electrical power wirelessly wasn't too popular on Wall Street.

Before the power brokers figured out what he was up to, Tesla built a tower-topped laboratory near what is now Colorado Springs. He filled the mountain air with thunderous manmade lightning bolts and pounded the earth with electrical oscillations as he tested ideas about electrical resonance. Then he returned to New York to build Wardenclyffe, a complex wooden tower on Long Island from which he planned to send both communications and power wirelessly. When banker J. Pierpont Morgan realized Tesla could make it possible for anyone to stick an antenna in the ground anywhere and get electrical power, the banker cut off the inventor's funding and blocked other financial deals that Tesla tried to make. Wardenclyffe tower was torn down and sold for scrap.

In recent years, scientists such as James Corum Ph.D. have learned that Tesla did successfully test a wireless system in Colorado. For example, Tesla knew specific frequencies associated with the earth-ionosphere waveguide, knowledge he could not have had in the nineteenth century unless he had sent electrical oscillations wirelessly.


In 1923 Townsend T. Brown's simple flying discs demonstrated a connection between electricity and gravitation. Working along these lines for twenty-eight- more years, Brown patented (U.S. Patents 2,949,550, 3,018,394 and others) an electrostatic propulsion method. Starting with two-feet-in-diameter suspended discs flying around a pole at seventeen feet per second, he increased the size by a third, and the discs flew so fast that the results were highly classified, said an international aviation magazine in 1956. Before the end of his life Brown had apparatus that could lift itself directly when electricity was applied. He died in 1985.

The bottom line: if electrogravitics is developed, we could have an electric spacecraft technology which does not obey known electromagnetic principles. The craft would thrust in any direction, without moving engine parts. No gears, shafts, propellers or wheels.

Coupling effects between electricity or magnetism and gravity are shown by other experimenters, including David Hamel of Ontario and Floyd Sparky Sweet of California. At a 1981 symposium in Toronto, Rudolf Zinsser of Germany demonstrated a device (U.S. Patent 4,085,384) that propelled itself, according to credible witnesses such as professional engineer George Hathaway. Zinsser claimed his specifically shaped pulses of electromagnetic waves altered the local gravitational field.

Hathaway collaborated in the mid-1980s with John Hutchison on action-at-a-distance experiments in which heavy pieces of metal levitated and shot toward the ceiling when put in a complex electromagnetic field, and some metal samples shredded anomalously. Visitors to the laboratory came from Los Alamos and the Canadian department of defense. (The military is a quantum leap ahead of the academics in spooky science.)

Read the first issue of Atlantis Rising for a fascinating antigravity story, John Searle's levity disk generator.


Changing atomic elements or making elements appear mysteriously? It sounds like impossible alchemy, but experimenters recently did this, without Big Science particle accelerators. These scientists learned from a metaphysician, Walter Russell (1871-1963). During vivid spiritual experiences, Russell had seen everything in the universe, from the atom to outer space, being formed by an invisible background geometry. Russell not only portrayed his visions in paintings, he also learned science. He was so far ahead that in 1926 he predicted tritium, deuterium, neptunium, plutonium and other elements.

Recently, professional engineers Ron Kovac and Toby Grotz of Colorado, with help from Dr. Tim Binder, repeated Russell's 1927 work, which was verified at the time by Westinghouse Laboratories. Russell found a novel way to change the ratio of hydrogen to oxygen in water vapor inside a sealed quartz tube, or to change the vapor to completely different elements. Their conclusion agrees with Russell: the geometry of motion in space is important in atomic transmutation. Kovac shorthands that idea to geometry of space-bending.

These modern shape-shifters speak of Russell's feats such as prolate or oblate the oxygen nucleus into nitrogen or hydrogen or vice versa. To change nuclei, they change the shape of a magnetic field. Although they used expensive analyzing equipment, it is basically tabletop science. No atom-smashing cyclotron needed; just a gentle nudge using the right frequencies. Focus and un-focus light-motion, create a vortex and control it.

Cold fusion researchers are also running across strange elements popping up in their own electrified brews. No one is proposing to make gold and upset world currencies, but some experimenters aim to clean up radioactive waste by their novel processes.


As Wilhelm Reich, M.D., (1897-1957) moved from Europe to Scandinavia to America, he left a trail of angry experts in every field he explored, from psychiatry to politics to sexology, biology, microscopy and cancer research. His work all led toward one unifying discovery, a mass-free pulsating life-force energy he named orgone, because he discovered it in living organisms before finding that it also permeates earth's atmosphere.

Reich's life ended in prison after prolonged conflict with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. His books and papers were burned by federal officials because the FDA had gathered a case against use of his orgone accumulator for therapy. The accumulator is a box made of layered organic and inorganic materials; experiments with it show anomalous results. An unusual temperature rise inside the accumulator indicates limitations of the second law of thermodynamics. Whether or not concentrated orgone can help with health problems, the accumulator does defy standard science.


In 1952 Wilhelm Reich invented a method of rainmaking that doesn't involve cloudseeding with chemicals. Cloudbusting, otherwise known as etheric weather engineering, invokes principles that are hard for the conventionally trained mind to accept. The technology is low-tech; point some hollow metal pipes at the sky and connect their lower ends into running water. But unless you know both meteorology and orgonamy, please don't try this at home, on our planet.

Among the properties of the primordial energy, orgone, Reich observed, are its absorption into water, its role in controlling weather and its dangerous state when excited by radioactivity. The planet doesn't need any more mad-scientist experimenters manipulating natural systems, but it may need a more advanced understanding of what nuclear power plant emissions do to the atmosphere. (Reich's followers warn that the planet's life-force is disturbed by the excess radioactivity.)


In the late 1920s Royal Raymond Rife of San Diego invented a high-magnification, high-resolution light microscope. This meant that he could see unstained living cells, unlike the dead specimens seen under an electron microscope. Basically, he developed an electromagnetic frequency generator which he could tune to the natural frequency of the micro-organism under study. Further, he learned that certain electromagnetic frequencies could kill specific bacterial forms.

New discoveries in biophysics not only shed light on the illumination process of Rife's microscope, they also explain how he could selectively explode viruses. His concept of shape changing bacteria indicates that traditional germ-theory dogma is incomplete. Despite documented cures, his non-drug, painless electrical treatment of diseases was not welcomed by a powerful medical union.


When Patrick Flanagan was a teenager in the early 1960s, Life magazine listed him as one of the top scientists in the world. Among his inventions was the Neurophone, an electronic instrument that can program suggestions into a person directly through skin contact. He made the first Neurophone at age fourteen, out of kitchen junk, his electrodes were scouring pads made of fine copper wire and insulated with plastic bags. He then wired the electrodes to a special transformer attached to a hi-fi amplifier. Holding the pads on his temples, he could hear, inside his head, music from the amplifier. Later models automatically adjusted the signal to resonate with the human subject's skin as part of a complex circuit. Patent officials said it was impossible for a sound to be heard clearly without vibrating bones or going through a crucial nerve of the ear, and refused for 12 years to patent it. The file was re-opened when a nerve-deaf employee at the patent office did hear with a Neurophone.

At one time Flanagan researched man/dolphin language, on contracts with the U.S. Navy. This led to a 3-D holographic sound system that could place sounds in any location in space. He then perfected a Neurophone model which could be used for subliminal learning that would go into the brain's long-term memory banks. But after he sent in a patent application on a digital Neurophone, the Defense Intelligence Agency slapped on a Secrecy Order and he was unable to work on the device or talk to anyone about it for five years. This was discouraging, since the first patent took twelve years to get.

Having helped certain deaf people to hear, Flanagan's next miracle could be to help the blind to see. All we have to do is stimulate the skin with the right signals.

With public acceptance of inventions such as space-energy converters and super-learning devices, perhaps today's innovators will pull the establishment, kicking and scoffing, into a new world view before the 21st century. However, figure that there will always be experts to say Forget it: such things are impossible.

More space-energy converters will be pictured in a book by Jeane Manning, forthcoming from Avery Publishing Group this winter.

Top 10 High-Tech Car Safety Technologies

By Tori Tellem

It's just a fact of life — we are living longer. And it's not just because of tofu, sunscreen and medical breakthroughs. Automakers are to thank (or curse) for this as much as doctors, since they are competitively blending performance and creature comforts with cutting-edge safety technology that tries to stay one step ahead of you — and everyone else on the road.

While pedestrian-friendly bumpers and cars that can drive themselves may seem like the faraway future of automotive safety, so did many of the features that are now industry standards for 2006-'07 models. It makes us wonder if the Jeep Grand Cherokee Concierge concept from 2002 — with an integrated heart defibrillator — might catch on as part of the next wave of safety.

Below are our top 10 choices for safety technologies, complete with a list of the automakers that offer them and their estimated costs.

Tire-pressure monitoring
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required that all U.S. passenger vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less be equipped with a tire-pressure monitoring system by the 2008 model year. But it's already a safety feature in most new autos. (For example, BMW will have it as standard equipment on all of its models by the end of 2006.) Sensors at the wheels are able to alert you if the air pressure is too low by an audible warning, a light on the instrument panel, or both. You may also see more cars with run-flat tires (the Corvette, among the current offerings), which allow a vehicle to continue to run at a relatively high rate of speed for 50-plus miles.

Available from: Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ferrari, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hummer, Hyundai, Infiniti, Isuzu, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac, Porsche, Range Rover, Rolls-Royce, Scion, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

As an option, it typically costs less than $100.

Adaptive cruise control/collision mitigation
Modern cruise control goes beyond just maintaining a constant speed. Thanks to sensors and the use of radar, cruise control can now adjust the throttle and brakes to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you if there are changes in traffic speed or if a slowpoke cuts in. If the system senses a potential collision, it typically will brake hard and tighten the seatbelts. Once it knows the lane is clear or traffic has sped up, it will return your car to its original cruising speed, all without your input. Of course, you may override the system by touching the brakes. The Mercedes-Benz and Maybach systems go by a less obvious name: Distronic.

Available from: Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Jaguar, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Range Rover, Toyota and Volvo.

As an option, it should cost $600-$3,100, but could be more if it's part of a package. (The Lexus LS 430 Ultra Luxury Selection package includes Dynamic Radar Cruise Control for $13,570, for example.)

Blind-spot detection/side assist/collision warning
This technology is designed to alert you to cars or objects in your blind spot during driving or parking, or both. Usually it will respond when you put on your turn signal; if it detects something in the way, it may flash a light in your mirror, cause the seat or steering wheel to vibrate, or sound an alarm. This is more of a short-range detection system.

Available from: Audi and Volvo.

As a stand-alone option on the Audi, it's $500; Volvo is TBA.

Lane-departure warning/wake-you-up safety
This is similar to blind-spot/side-assist technology but with more range. It judges an approaching vehicle's speed and distance to warn you of potential danger if you change lanes. However, because it doesn't necessarily require the turn signal, it can also warn if it determines your car is wandering out of the lane, such as if you are distracted. This could come in the form of a vibration through the seat or steering wheel, or an alarm. Down the road expect lane-departure warning to even be able to monitor body posture, head position and eye activity to decide if the driver is falling asleep and the vehicle is behaving erratically. At that point, the system may even be capable of slowing the car down and engaging stability control. Just in case.

Available from: Infiniti.

As an option, packages run $3,600-$10,500.

Rollover prevention/mitigation
Most automakers offer an electronic stability control system, and some offer a preparation system (seatbelts tighten, rollbars extend). However, what we're talking about is more intelligent than that. If the system senses a potential rollover (such as if you whip around a corner too fast or swerve sharply), it will apply the brakes and modulate throttle as needed to help you maintain control. DaimlerChrysler calls it Electronic Roll Mitigation, Ford named it Roll Stability Control, and GM's is Proactive Roll Avoidance. Range Rover's is Active Roll Mitigation, while Volvo's is called Roll-Over Protection System. But they all have the same goal.

Available with stability control systems from: Acura, Audi, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Jeep, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mercury, Range Rover and Volvo.

Occupant-sensitive/dual-stage airbags
All humans are not created equal, and airbags are evolving to compensate in the form of low-risk, multistage and occupant-sensitive deployment. Technology can now sense the different sizes and weights of occupants as well as seatbelt usage, abnormal seating position (such as reaching for the radio or bending to pick something off the floor), rear-facing child seats and even vehicle speed. While driver, passenger and side curtain airbags are nothing new, sensing airbags are popping up (so to speak) everywhere.

Available from: Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jeep, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Nissan, Pontiac, Rolls-Royce, Saab, Saturn, Scion, Volkswagen and Volvo.

Emergency brake assist/collision mitigation
This brake technology is different from an antilock braking system or electronic brakeforce distribution, in that it recognizes when the driver makes a panic stop (a quick shift from gas to brake pedal) and will apply additional brake pressure to help shorten the stopping distance. It may also work in conjunction with the smart cruise control or stability control system in some vehicles if it senses a potential collision. It is often called brake assist, although BMW, for example, refers to it as Dynamic Brake Control.

Available from: Acura, Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Honda, Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Saab, Scion, Subaru, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen.

Adaptive headlights and/or night-vision assist
Night vision can be executed in different forms, such as infrared headlamps or thermal-imaging cameras. But no matter the science, the goal is the same: to help you see farther down the road and to spot animals, people or trees in the path — even at nearly 1,000 feet away. An image is generated through a cockpit display, brightening the objects that are hard to see with the naked eye. Adaptive headlights follow the direction of the vehicle (bending the light as you go around corners). They may also be speed-sensitive (changing beam length or height), or compensate for ambient light.

Available from: Acura, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Volkswagen and Volvo.
As an option: Prices vary; it's $700 as a stand-alone option on the Mercedes-Benz S550 but $6,550 for part of the car's Premium III package. The cost for most night-vision systems falls between those figures.

Rearview camera
Rearview cameras not only protect your car, but also protect children and animals from accidental back-overs. Backing up your car has graduated from side mirrors tilting down or causing chirps and beeps to real-time viewing. New-school tech involves a camera that works with the navigation system to provide a wide-open shot of what's happening behind you to help with parking or hooking up a trailer.

Available from: Acura, Audi, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen.

As an option: Expect to pay anywhere from $750 to $1,000 — or more, if part of a package.

Emergency response
There are a variety of ways vehicles now and in the future will handle an emergency situation. For example, DaimlerChrysler's Enhanced Accident Response System (EARS) turns on interior lighting, unlocks doors and shuts off fuel when airbags deploy, while Volkswagen's also switches on the hazards and disconnects the battery terminal from the alternator. In addition, GM's OnStar and BMW Assist both alert their respective response centers of the accident and make crash details available to emergency personnel.

Available from: Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, GMC, Hummer, Jeep, Land Rover, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Volvo.

Optional: Some services may require a monthly fee, but provide additional capabilities beyond emergencies.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fake chinese electronics selling better than the originals

By Alex Zaharov-Reutt

It’s a funny old world. Chinese manufacturers are copying the circuit boards and designs of products from Japan and Korea, and they’re doing it so fast that by the time the originals arrive in the marketplace, they’re seen as the fakes!

China is a land of endless factories, with many pumping out the world’s most desirable gadgets, from iPods to portable computers to digital cameras and much more. But with so much electronics smarts to hand, the pirate electronics industry is very active.

Two reports on the Internet, here and here, have indicated that Chinese electronics pirates have been very busy, churning out excellent copies of LG’s Chocolate phone right down to the glowing touch-controlled keypad and smooth sliding action.

LG took so long to get a Chinese version ready, that by the time they launched theirs into the market, the copied Chinese version had been on sale for so long that LG’s phone was seen as the fake item copying the ‘original’ Chinese version.

Another example is the PSP. Rumoured to be coming out with in a version that contains a standard GSM mobile phone, a Chinese manufacturer came out with a phone that looks very much like a PSP, although not as wide, with a stack of pirated Nintendo games thrown in for good measure to beef up its gaming credentials, even if those games have been shamelessly ripped off from Nintendo.

Plenty of other goods, both electronic and otherwise, are routinely copied in China. Everything from designer clothes, handbags, Mont Blanc and other brand pens, expensive cars, golf clubs, jewellery, sports shoes (sneakers), many modern toys including many of the robots in the ‘Robosapien’ series and plenty more including CDs and DVDs is freely available from ‘markets’ all over China, and if you know where to look, at markets in Hong Kong, too.

The cars may not be so easily accessible from the markets, indeed that’s the one place you won’t find them, but the rest of the products are much more easily transportable and copyable that it’s no surprise they are widely available.

The electronics market is just the latest frontier, with costs of electronics production so low in China. Many of these products will not officially make it out of China, but will be smuggled out to appear in stores across Asia, and in likely much smaller quantities to first world Western countries.

The piracy of electronics is nothing new. In the 90s, I clearly remember fake Panasonic DVD players marked as ‘Panesoic’, a brand name so ridiculous only the incredibly dimwitted would mistake it for the original.

But sell these products do, especially in Asia where the prices are low, few questions are asked and in many cases, the quality is actually pretty good.

Samsung is said to have been so concerned by seeing its phones copied on the Chinese market that it tracked the distribution channels back to the source and discovered the electronics guys responsible for copying their latest products.

After offering them a job with Samsung and a chance to go legitimate, they are reported to have declined the offer, saying that they were able to make more money by simply continuing in their pirate ways. What Samsung did next is not known.

Eventually China will crack down on the blatant piracy seen on its shores, but until then, the world will keep on seeing ever more creative and ever better quality copies from Chinese manufacturers, along with complete duds that should definitely be avoided and products of varying quality everywhere in between.

What a funny old world we live in, where people will do almost anything and copy almost anything to make, or save, a buck.

Afghanistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania herders go high-tech

Nomadic herders go high-tech

By Marsha Walton

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (CNN) -- Satellites, cell phones and spectrometers: Probably not the first things you think of when you picture sheep and goat herders in Afghanistan. But those modern tools may soon make the lives of nomadic families a little more stable.

Afghanistan is the latest location for projects coordinated by the University of California-Davis and Texas A&M University, to provide early warning systems about animal health and to help pinpoint the location of the healthiest grazing areas.

A $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development's Mission to Afghanistan will fund the effort for four years.

"Agriculture is so fundamental to helping people become economically self-sufficient," said Elsa Murano, dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. (Watch nomadic herders get a feel for 21st century technology )

"And the economic stability that comes from being able to sell your goods, produce your goods, and get an income from that is a stabilizing force like no other," she said.

Texas A&M research scientist Jay Angerer, who worked with herders in Mongolia, says there is a mixed reaction when he first explains the tools and how they might help.

"I think that they're welcoming in the sense that they're glad that someone is concerned about their issues and problems, and I think they're very curious and interested," said Angerer.

But he says it is also important to respect the understanding they have gained from generations of tending sheep, goats, cattle, and horses. In addition to the natural disasters of drought and dust storms, herding families in east Africa and Afghanistan have also had to survive civil wars and unstable governments.

"I always tell people that I train that this shouldn't be the only tool that you use to make a decision. There's lots of information out there," said Angerer.

The U.S. researchers are often joined by scientists and college students from the region to collect and analyze plant samples. That data about forage is added to information about climate and precipitation, some from satellite information, and some from ground reporting stations.

Computer models then predict how those plants will grow, based on soil conditions and rainfall. The researchers can then forecast where the richest vegetation will be, especially if drought or other crisis conditions exist.

"By giving that information you could provide the herder the information to know whether they need to sell animals, buy supplements or to make a decision that, 'I'm going to cope with this drought by hanging on just a little bit longer'," said Angerer.
Analyzing manure

The livestock experts also gain important clues about animal health from the herds' manure.

"We're using a very convenient product, manure, to determine what the animals were consuming, what their diet was, which tells us, are they healthy? Are they going to gain weight? Are they going to meet their reproductive demands?" said Kris Banik, lab manager at the Grazingland Animal Nutrition Lab at Texas A&M.

At that Texas lab, samples from farms and ranches are carefully dried and pulverized before they are analyzed with a Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy machine, or NIRS. The device provides a biochemical snapshot of the organic material, indicating how much protein and other digestible organic matter the animals have consumed.

But shepherds and herders, often on the move in mountains or deserts, do not have the luxury of a nearby lab. So researchers developed a tool to take to their turf.

A portable spectroscopy unit can accomplish the same thing, with almost instant results that can provide early warning to herders of their animals' health.

"If we can go out in the pasture in real time and be able to take a scan of that sample, and then be able to give an answer right then, we'll cut five days off that decision-making process," said Doug Tolleson, director of the Grazingland Animal Nutrition Lab at Texas A&M. "If you had a rapid onset of a drought, that could make a lot of difference."

When scientists arrive in a new region, one of the first tasks is to seek input from local experts.

Professor Robert Kaitho, an animal nutritionist at Texas A&M, has helped coordinate programs in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.

"I am trained in the region, and before I joined this project I had worked under the agriculture resource system for more than 20 years," said Kaitho.

"In the communities we are constantly providing them advisories. They were able to move the animals to areas where there was forage during drought, and were able to minimize their losses," he said.

And Kaitho says technology now goes beyond just keeping animals healthier. It can help families get a better price for their animals, through a cell phone, or any Internet connection. Sending a text message to a cell phone number will get within a couple of minutes the current market prices for livestock.

"They are able to get information otherwise that was only limited to middle men, and those who had connections in the cities," he said. "Now, the common people have access to that same information."

"We don't see it as our role at all to change their lifestyles," said Professor Paul Dyke, research scientist at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station at Texas A&M in Temple, Texas.

"It's to go in and try to give them information to really try to apply some of this, what seems to be and is fairly high-tech science and apply it down into what we generally think is the poorest of the poor. They are in very fragile lands, very marginal lands, and they face a lot of problems in knowing when to move and when to reduce herds," said Dyke.

"We have always been trying to push good science down to the level that it really makes a difference, and if we don't reach the people that it affects on a day to day basis, then as far as I am concerned, then we have missed our objectives," said Dyke.

In nearly three decades of global efforts, the academic teams also have worked with nongovernmental organizations including Mercy Corps, and various other international humanitarian aid agencies that work at the grassroots level.

"These are programs that have existed for 27 years, and what we have done is build strong partnerships with our local collaborators, in a way that they are involved in all the decision making about the design and implementation of these projects," said Montague Demment, professor of plant sciences and director of the UC Davis-based Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program.

In Afghanistan, the scientists will be working with the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, and Kabul University.

"We not only have to understand the biology and the ecology, but you also have to understand the political and social context. Our folks on the ground have learned to become part of the local landscape," said Demment.

"One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think that you understand all the answers to questions before you go into these situations. So in a sense, it takes some time on the ground to learn about the constraints, the cultural issues, and to be able to do this in an effective manner," said Demment.

So how do the herders feel about scientists from other countries bringing in their new tools to a very established lifestyle?

Michael J. Jacobs has been in Afghanistan for two months as the project coordinator for the Afghanistan Pastoral Engagement, Adaptation and Capacity Enhancement (PEACE) project.

He says he visited Policharkhe, an area where Kuchi tribespeople spend a few months between their summer and winter grazing lands.

Through a translator, Jacobs talked to one sheep and goat herder. At one point the translator started to chuckle. Jacobs asked him what the herder had said.

The translator said: "He is asking what took you so long to help them."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Group of Colorado scientists invent breathable rubber

Suit Up! Breathable Rubber Keeps Chemicals Out without the Sweat

In this age of looming bioterrorism, keeping chemical warfare vapors off of soldiers is a primary military concern.

A group of Colorado scientists may have just come up with a solution that can keep troops safe while giving them the comfort of breathability.

In the past, military personnel had two choices: they could wear a breathing apparatus along with a full-body suit of cross-linked butyl rubber, or a garment fortified with activated carbon. Although the latter could adsorb any harmful aerosols floating their way, it was heavy--imagine wearing an outfit with charcoal stuffed in every pocket--and the carbon needed to be periodically replaced. As for the garment made of rubber, the same material used in hockey pucks and most waterproof clothing, it kept most agents out, but it also locked the soldier's sweat in--leading to heatstroke or even death, in some extreme cases.

Butyl rubber, a linear polymer, "is a really good barrier," says University of Colorado at Boulder chemist Douglas L. Gin, "but it's really good both ways."

Gin, along with Brian Elliott, a researcher at TDA Research in Wheat Ridge, Colo., led a team that sought to tweak butyl rubber for greater water transport through the material. In order to get butyl rubber into a state useful for a suit, the linear polymer must be cross-linked to make a three-dimensional network, which, according to Gin, "makes it more chemically, mechanically and thermally robust."

The researchers blended butyl rubber with liquid crystals that could be organized to form hydrophilic, 1.2-nanometer-wide pores. These holes would allow water to pass through, but they would block chemical agents that were either too big to fit or were hydrophobic and therefore repelled by the pores. Unfortunately, when testing the new material with water vapor and 2-chloroethyl ethyl sulfide (CEES or "half mustard" gas), Gin and Elliott discovered that water vapor moved across the membrane, but not at a rate that would be acceptable for military use.

So the team went back to the drawing board, using a new liquid crystal that created, rather than pores, a "bicontinuous cubic" made up of interconnected, three-dimensional sheets.

"The first version was just pipes," explains Gin. "It's really easy to block a pipe--all you have to do is plug it somewhere in the middle and transport is completely stopped." With the second version, "it now is more like intercrisscrossing layers of water in three dimensions. So you get easy transport no matter which way water wants to go in or out."

Sure enough, when the scientists tested the water vapor transport rate for a four-micrometer-thick film of their new material, it performed at four times the minimum acceptable rate by the military and 300 times that of plain, cross-linked butyl rubber. It is also about 30 percent less permeable to CEES, making it more effective for protection against a chemical agent.

Gin and Elliott are now working to make their new, improved butyl rubber as effective at thinner swaths. They also believe they may be able to use the material not only in suits, but as filters for solutions from brine to contaminated water.

"The crux of our whole technology is we can take conventional commercial butyl rubber and, by blending it with our polymerizable liquid crystal, we can actually make these water conduits in there," Gin remarks. "And depending on the type of liquid crystals, we can control the dimensionality from one-dimensional cylinders or tubes to the much more effective interconnected 3-D water manifold system."

from here