Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #200
February 3rd, 2008

Welcome to the 200th issue of this weekly press review! And now, on with the show…

Cell Phone Can Read Documents for Blind

Chris Danielsen fidgets with the cell phone, holding it over a $20 bill. “Detecting orientation, processing U.S. currency image,” the phone says in a flat monotone before Danielsen snaps a photo. A few seconds later, the phone says, “Twenty dollars.” Danielsen, a spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, is holding the next generation of computerized aids for the blind and visually impaired.
Source: Alex Dominguez, Associated Press, January 28, 2008

Thinking About Tomorrow

How will technology change the way we shop, learn and entertain ourselves? How will it change the way we get news, protect our privacy, connect with friends? We look ahead 10 years, and imagine a whole different world. Let’s get this out of the way first — in the next 10 years, no one will travel to work by jet pack or have robot maids that serve dinner. But technology will continue to transform the rituals of everyday life — sometimes in startling ways.
[Note: this long article will certainly be worth reading in 2018…]
Source: Jessica E. Vascellaro, The Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2008

Phoning Home Without a Phone

A new simple device alerts emergency contacts from remote areas. When activated, the $170 SPOT Satellite Messenger from SPOT Inc., the Milpitas, Calif., unit of Globalstar Inc., emits a signal to GPS satellites, which notify SPOT’s messaging service. The service then sends a message to friends, family or emergency rescue teams about your current status. Because it uses GPS technology, the SPOT will work even when you’re far from cellphone signal range and anywhere in the world.
Source: Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2008

Smart Badges Track Human Behavior

MIT researchers used conference badges to collect data on people’s interactions and visualize the social network. Ben Waber, an MIT researcher who worked on the project (and blogged about it here), gave souped-up badges to 70 participants at a Media Lab event. These badges use an infrared sensor to gather data about face-to-face interactions, a wireless radio to collect data regarding proximity to other badges and send it to a central computer, an accelerometer to track motion of the participant, and a microphone to monitor speech patterns. At the event, the data from the infrared sensors was wirelessly transmitted to a computer that crunched the numbers, producing a real-time visualization of the event’s social graph.
Source: Kate Greene, Technology Review, January 30, 2008

Air Your Security Gripes on TSA Blog

Frustrated by long airport-security lines? Certain those screeners aren’t paying attention? Wondering why your grandma always gets frisked? The federal government wants to hear – or at least read – your gripes at the “Evolution of Security” blog the Transportation Security Administration introduced Wednesday. And it promises those complaints and suggestions won’t vanish into thin air. The blog, at http://www.tsa.gov/blog , is getting a rather “blah” response from aviation analysts and passengers advocates who say it will do little to improve process or perception.
Source: Dan Caterinicchia, Associated Press, January 31, 2008

New algorithm for digital map technology

New technology to enhance digital map technology will be presented by a University of Southampton academic at a conference in California next week. Dr Jonathon Hare from the University’s School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS) will deliver a presentation entitled MapSnapper: engineering an efficient algorithm for matching images of maps from mobile phones, at the Electronic Imaging conference which will take place in San Jose, California, USA from 27-31 January.
Source: innovations report, January 25, 2008

BART tries pay-by-phone system

BART became the first transit agency in the country Tuesday to test a system-wide cell phone payment program that allows riders to pass through the gates with a wave of their handset. The $200,000 pilot project, which will be tested by about 230 riders for the next four months, utilizes a wireless chip that lets people pay by passing their phone over a wireless reader.
Source: Ryan Kim, San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 2008

Social Search

A new website will offer personalized search results based on the user’s social network. A company called Delver, which presented at Demo earlier this week, is working on a search engine that uses social-network data to return personalized results from the larger Web. Liad Agmon, CEO of Delver, says that the site connects information about a user’s social network with Web search results, “so you are searching the Web through the prism of your social graph.”
Source: Erica Naone, Technology Review, February 1, 2008


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