David Williams is a soft-spoken 34-year-old employed by the world's second-largest street-mapping company, Tele Atlas, and each discovery Williams makes 30 to 40 per week soon ends up on a map of the country. That information will then become accessible to computers, GPS devices, and, one hopes, the car navigation system used by the UPS delivery guy. The project may make Williams sound Dilbert-esque, but he's actually part of a shift in the way that road maps get made. Maps have long been created by people driving around and marking their trails, as if working a giant Etch A Sketch. Navteq, the biggest road-map maker, still does it that way. But Tele Atlas, which until recently competed with Chicago-based Navteq the way that Burger King competes with McDonald's making much the same things in much the same way has decided to plot the world by starting with the electronic news alert instead of the steering wheel. The cartographic competition has suddenly become intense. At least 60 million people regularly consult online maps, and last year 1.2 million cars were sold with built-in navigation systems, a number that has quadrupled over the past three years. Cell phone manufacturers are starting to install GPS, too. The quest in on.
Pair Your Wristwatch With Your Handset
Fossil and Sony Ericsson have partnered to develop Bluetooth-enabled watches, several of which have been unveiled. Three Fossil watches -- the FX6001 boasting the Fossil brand and the AU6001 and AU6002 under the Abacus moniker -- can connect with your Sony Ericsson cell phone to provide caller ID and alert you to voice and text messages via the small LCD at the bottom of the watch face. The watch also lets you mute or reject the call without having to access your phone directly. A fourth watch, the MBW-100, carries the Sony Ericsson brand and features the same functions, plus the ability to control the music player on several Sony Ericsson phones.
Study links overeating to emotions
Researchers at Brookhaven National Lab in Upton, N.Y., report evidence linking the brain and stomach with emotions to cause overeating and obesity. By looking at how the human brain responds to fullness messages sent to the brain by an implanted device, the scientists have identified brain circuits that motivate the desire to overeat. The study says these circuits are the same that make addicted people crave drugs. The scientists have also verified that these circuits play a critical role in eating behaviors linked to soothing negative emotions.
Next time you have a videoconference, instead of putting on a suit, just put on half of one. The Half Suit is jacket, shirt and tie combined into one bib-length garment that'll have you ready for your close-up with a minimum of fuss. We suspect sports broadcasters and TV-news anchormen have been pulling this trick off for years, so why should you do any less? Prices range from USD 135 to USD 150.
Huge numbers of dinosaurs lie in wait
They are natural history's superstars, yet we know surprisingly little about the diversity of dinosaurs. Now a mathematical model provides an estimate of how many different genera of dinosaurs there were. The good news is that at least 70% are still waiting to be found. The work could also stoke the debate about what killed the dinosaurs off in the first place. Steve Wang, a statistician at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, and Peter Dodson, a palaeontologist at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia totted up the skeletons found so far from each known dinosaur genus and plugged the figures into an established mathematical model that links observed data to unseen genera. Only 527 genera have so far been described, but the model estimated that there should be about 1850 in total leaving plenty yet to be discovered. When Wang and Dodson compared the dinosaur diversity in the last six million years of the Cretaceous the Maastrichtian Stage with the previous six million years they found no change. However, the model the researchers used was not detailed enough to show whether a slight decline had already set in by the time the meteorites struck, Dodson says. Paul Barrett, a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, UK, says that climate change and volcanic activity probably contributed to a decrease in dinosaur diversity before the end of Cretaceous, and the meteorite strike finished them off.
Back to the Drawing Board
If you love the tactile pleasure of putting pen to paper, check out the Adesso CyberTablet M17. This 17-inch display doubles as a graphics tablet for digital pen-based applications, and supports document annotation and handwriting recognition. The monitor supports up to 1280x1024 pixel (SXGA) resolution, with an active area of 13.3 by 10.7 inches and comes with a pen featuring 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. It's compatible with both Mac and Windows. The CyberTablet is available for USD 1,700.
Scream for Your Cell Phone
Does it pay to scream if your cell phone is stolen? Synchronica, a mobile device management company, thinks so. If you use the company's Mobile Manager service and your handset is stolen, the company, once contacted, will remotely lockdown your phone, erase all its data and trigger it to emit a blood-curdling scream to scare the bejesus out of the thief. Granted, this won't get your phone back for you but it will probably give you a certain amount of satisfaction. While the Synchronica Scream is undoubtedly one of the more unique security measures we've heard about, it seems to have more potential as a prank to pull on friends.
Three Times a Display Screen
No more fighting with the family over what to watch in the car. Sharp has developed a Triple Directional Viewing LCD, which controls the viewing angle so it simultaneously displays different images from the left, right and centre. That means you can view the GPS screen while the missus checks out restaurants and the backseat passengers can watch a DVD -- all in full-screen mode. The screen uses a proprietary parallax barrier on a standard TFT LCD to split light in three directions -- left, right and centre -- and display three separate images on the same screen at once. Expect the LCD to also be used for public signs to display three different advertisements targeted at different directions of foot traffic.
Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN
Source: New Scientist, Wired and Webindia123
(R) thedailystar.net 2006