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     Volume 4 Issue 20 | November 5, 2004 |

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Microsoft Teams with Swatch on Paparazzi
The new Paparazzi watches from Swatch come in four colours and are equipped to receive news, sports, weather and other personalised programming via MSN Direct. Subscribers can choose from a range of pricing options, some of which include synchronisation with MSN Messenger and Outlook. Microsoft has hooked up with Swatch to deliver the latest in a line of smart wristwatches using the software giant's MSN Direct wireless content-delivery technology. Rather than using cellular or wireless local area networks, MSN Direct operates on a nation-wide wide-area network based on FM subcarrier technology -- much like that used by the Muzak piped-in music service. Known as "DirectBand," this technology includes a custom radio-receiver chip and new radio protocols to transmit information to smart objects via FM broadcast bands currently not in use. By using radio-frequency spectrum, Microsoft has access to nearly every FM station in the country. The Paparazzi marketing blitz features the Swatch Meet sweepstakes, with winners earning a chance to rub elbows with celebrities in business, sports, music and film. The ultimate objective is to have these devices, PCs and other computing hardware communicate with each other, creating a well connected home.

If Bluetooth Is Up, What's Down?
Infrared remains effective for some short-range applications, such as PDA programmes that allow users to exchange business cards but Bluetooth trumps it in the area of wireless communications. As Bluetooth climbs slowly toward mass acceptance, it appears to have nudged aside older technologies, such as infrared (IR) wireless, as the preferred route to short-range connectivity between devices. But experts noted that in the fast-changing world of wireless tech, Bluetooth is not yet ready to be crowned champion. In fact, it could be eclipsed by other technologies coming onto the scene. According to Andrew Hogg, desktop product manager at data-syncing technology provider Pumatech , IR has always been limited by the fact that it can operate at a maximum distance of slightly more than three feet between devices -- compared with more than 30 feet for Bluetooth. In addition, IR usually requires devices to be pointing directly at one another, and it cannot penetrate walls. Bluetooth, which uses short-range radio technology, has neither of those limitations. "They're really very different technologies in the way that they are used," Hogg told Wireless NewsFactor. Infrared wireless uses radiation to transmit data at wavelengths equivalent to those of red light. "But in a way, Bluetooth is doing a lot of things that IR could not do, and it is picking up where infrared left off."

Pinecone-Inspired "Smart" Clothes Expand
We're accustomed to borrowing from animals and plants when it comes to clothing ourselves. Wool, cashmere, cotton and the like--all help to keep out the cold.

But what about clothing that keeps us from overheating? Short of stripping, this isn't such an easy problem to solve. Yet scientists may have done just that. Again, their inspiration comes from nature, but not from sheep or cotton plants. Actually, it grows on evergreen trees. Britain-based researchers are now creating a new fabric that they claim adjusts automatically to changing body temperatures to keep the wearer cool. Its design is based on the mechanism used by pine cones to shed their seeds. This so-called smart clothing is being developed in England at the University of Bath's Centre for Biomimetics. The department's head, Julian Vincent, said, "We've all known days when the weather alters quickly and it's difficult to dress to match the changing temperature. The new smart clothing will make all that unnecessary." Biomimetics is the concept of taking ideas fine-tuned by nature over millions of years and mimicking them to develop cutting edge designs and products. This isn't a new discipline in the 15th century Leonardo da Vinci designed flying machines based on his studies of birds. But recently biomimetics has become the focus of increased scientific investigation. Military chiefs were seeking a more efficient field-clothing system for Britain's armed forces. Vincent said, "When you get hot you produce perspiration, and we wanted something to get rid of the sweat. So we looked around in the plant world for mechanisms where a change in humidity causes a change in shape. Actually, there are quite a lot of them, such as peapods, which go bang when they dry out. But the pinecone turned out to be the best model."

Ads Insinuated Into Video Games
Roar down city streets in the upcoming "Need for Speed Underground 2" racing game and you'll see a Best Buy store amid the skyscrapers along with bright billboards hawking, Old Spice and Burger King. The fictional landscapes of video games are increasingly being dotted with product placements, pitching everything from athletic shoes to movies. And that's not all -- advertisers will soon be able to update the ads over the Internet whenever they want, long after the games are sold. The plugs reflect a growing business reality -- video games are stealing eyeballs from movies and television, where product placement has long been a staple. TV viewership among men aged 18 to 34 declined by about 12 percent last year while that group spent 20 percent more time on games, according to Nielsen Media Research. Video games now attract not just hard-core gamers, but people of all ages and more women than ever. In the United States, overall sales reached $10.7 billion last year -- more than movie box-office receipts -- and is expected to reach nearly $16.9 billion in 2008, according to market research firm DFC Intelligence. Revenues from game advertising worldwide are following the migration from remote control to joystick, expected to grow from $200 million a year today to $1 billion in 2008. "If the audience is there, the advertiser will be there," said Anthony Noto, a media entertainment and Internet analyst at Goldman Sachs.

Mobile Phones to be Powered by Jet Engines
Get set for some jetting mobile phones, as engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have deciphered a technique to produce miniaturised jet engine-based generators from a single stack of bonded silicon wafers, which could one day power mobile electronic devices. By spinning a tiny magnet above a mesh of interleaved coils etched into a wafer, David Arnold and Mark Allen have succeeded in building the first silicon-compatible device capable of converting mechanical energy into usable amounts of electrical energy. The key advantage of these micro-engines is that they pack in at least 10 times more energy per volume of fuel than conventional lithium batteries, take up less space and work more smoothly than the much-touted fuel cells. "Jet engines are remarkable pieces of equipment in terms of efficiency. For the first time we have got macro-sized amounts of energy from a micro-scale device," Stuart Jacobson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, who collaborates with Arnold and Allen, was quoted by the News Scientist as saying. The most apt usage of these micro-engines would be for the armies which generally rely on battery-powered laptops, night-vision goggles and GPS systems, "The army has a tremendous power problem soldiers get bogged down by their batteries," Jacobson added.

Source: Webindia123.com / Newsfactor.com / Nationalgeographic.com


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