Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #191
December 2nd, 2007

No cash, no card, just a fingerprint

The technology to shop without cash or cards is right at our fingertips. Thanks to a revolutionary new system which is being introduced in Europe, you can just pay by fingerprint.
In Germany, 150,000 customers are pulling their fingers out at around 150 different outlets, from supermarkets to clothes stores, restaurants and even school canteens, mainly in the region between Frankfurt and Stuttgart.
Source: Kate Jackson, Sunday Mirror, UK, November 26, 2007

Keep your shoes on: T-rays can see right through

Imagine a trip to the airport without having to slip off your shoes. A scanner using T-rays, a form of electromagnetic radiation believed to be harmless, could make that possible, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory said Tuesday.
Source: Reuters, November 27, 2007

U.K. insurer computes pay-as-you-drive rates

By tracking vehicle journeys, taking into account factors such as route, time of day, braking, age of driver, and so on, Norwich Union promises to be able to reward the best drivers with lower insurance premiums. It maintains this doesn’t equate to losing customers paying the highest premiums. These individuals tend to call on their insurance more often and lead to lower margins–far better to leave them to the competition. Tony Lovick, pricing actuary at NU, said a trial using GPS-based IVUs (in-vehicle units) provided by Trafficmaster began in November 2003 and finished 11 months later. It involved 5,000 devices, 8 million journeys, and 15 billion journey points.
Source: Tony Hallett,, UK, November 27, 2007

Google introduces locator system for cell phone users

Internet search leader Google Inc. is testing technology that will find the location of people using its mobile mapping service, even if the phone making the connection isn’t equipped with a GPS receiver. […] Using the technology, dubbed “My Location,” simply requires pressing zero on a mobile handset equipped with the new software. The sender’s location shows up as a blue dot on Google’s mobile maps.
Source: Michael Liedtke, Associated Press, November 28, 2007

NEC develops first translation software on cellphone

Japanese electronics giant NEC Corp. said Friday it has created a world-first real-time translator on a cellphone, which can instantly turn Japanese travellers’ words into English. One second after the phone hears speech in Japanese, the cellphone with the new technology shows the text on the screen. One second later, an English version appears. […] The software, which can recognise some 50,000 Japanese words, is especially designed for smooth translation of travel phrases such as “Can I have a subway route map?”.
Source: AFP, November 30, 2007

Toilet-finding service offers relief

First came SatNav for lost drivers. Now there’s SatLav, a toilet-finding service to help people caught short in central London. On Thursday, Westminster City Council launched a new text message service that will guide Londoners and tourists to their nearest public lavatory.
Source: Reuters, November 30, 2007

Futurologist predicts life in 2030

Neurological interfaces to a super-intelligent internet are among the predictions of what life will be like in 2030. We should also prepare for robot nannies, replacement organs grown to order and an average age of 130 for Europeans, according to futurologist and author Ray Hammond.
Source: Ian Williams,, November 26, 2007

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