October 1999 Archives

A new estate in Hertfordshire, UK, will be "smart homes", with operations like adjusting heating, lights, alarm from any Net connection. Webcams point outside the house and videoconferencing facilities are built in. Being able to switch on the coffee machine in the kitchen from the bedroom is cited as a great benefit. The houses have all been sold, some before completion.

On the third page of this good report on the arrival of the next wave of games consoles it notes "Square, the publisher of the Final Fantasy game series, says it expects to spend $40 million on the next instalment -- the largest game development project in history." How long until an interactive "thing" beats the biggest movie production cost?

British life in 2010

Generally unremarkable report on a report about Britain in 2010: Continuing wealth divide, ageing population, end of youth culture dominance, less childhood, virtual offices and education.

Cross-pollinating super trees

The World Wide Fund for Nature says 116 GM tree trials have taken place since 1988 and these trees can cross pollinate with native trees over a distance of 400 miles. "Other GM modifications under trial raise the prospect of silent forests, devoid of insects, flowers and birds. The idea is to create super-trees that grow rapidly, resist rot, and defy insect attack. The trees would be sprayed from planes to kill all life around them."

UN report says there are almost 400 million mobiles in use with 250,000 being added each day. Some countries already have more mobiles than land lines, like Finland (51% of the market), Cambodia (58%) and Rwanda (72%). Pre-paid phones are the big success, with 75% of cellular users in Italy on pre-pay, 60% in Mexico.

Seeing through a cat's eyes

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A group at University of California, Berkeley, have reconstructed what a cat sees by connecting electrodes to 177 cells in its brain directly to a computer.

The two companies have set up a joint venture which intends to sell Net-connectable household appliances within a year. Ericsson already have a head start with their Screenfridge.

Thin, flexible computers and displays

A Cornell University group is working on flexible, thin computers: a layer of polymer-based transistors bonded to a sheet of silicon. Effectively a computer and its screen in a single sheet, "as large as meters on a side." The article seems to think this makes them "disposable." The difficulty, and what their research grant is for, is bonding the polymer and silicon layers together.

Article about a report by Greenpeace, European Wind Energy Association and the Forum for Energy and Development that says it's technically possible over the next 20 years to install enough wind-power generators to satisfy 10% of global electricity needs.

UN says robots will be as common as PCs

Report on a survey by UN Economic Commission for Europe (co-authored by the International Federation of Robotics) which expects domestic robots to be taken up by the wealthy, to be integrated into their fully wired homes.

140 GB disk

US firm C3D has a working prototype of 140 GB CD-sized disk and 10 GB card (both read only). They're planning to start pilot production with the disks going by the un-catchy name of FMD-ROM disk (for Fluorescent Multi-layer Disk).