Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #207
March 23rd, 2008

HP launches smaller Halo telepresence system

Hoping to capitalize on the rising costs of energy and travel, Hewlett-Packard Co. announced today a two- and four-seat versions of its room-size high-end Halo videoconferencing system. The new HP Halo Collaboration Center can be moved to multiple locations, such as a conference room or an executive’s office. Pricing will start at $120,000 for hardware in each room, in addition to a monthly $12,000 service fee that includes network costs, HP officials said.
Source: Matt Hamblen, Computerworld, March 18, 2008

Long-Distance Wi-Fi

Intel has found a way to stretch a Wi-Fi signal from one antenna to another located more than 60 miles away. Intel has announced plans to sell a specialized Wi-Fi platform later this year that can send data from a city to outlying rural areas tens of miles away, connecting sparsely populated villages to the Internet. The wireless technology, called the rural connectivity platform (RCP), will be helpful to computer-equipped students in poor countries, says Jeff Galinovsky, a senior platform manager at Intel. And the data rates are high enough — up to about 6.5 megabits per second — that the connection could be used for video conferencing and telemedicine, he says.
Source: Kate Greene, Technology Review, March 18, 2008

Cork firm aims to e-tag 600 million smart phones

A Cork-based firm which offers an innovative service reuniting lost laptops with their owners is set to launch a new electronic tagging technology aimed at the 600 million new smart phones and 100 million laptops shipping worldwide every year. Frank Hannigan, managing director of, has received support from Enterprise Ireland and private investors to develop a unique electronic tagging technology that will help users track lost or stolen laptops and even build up a warrant against the thief.
Source: John Kennedy,, March 18, 2008

How To Make Your Phone Untappable

Phillip Zimmermann, [the guy behind Pretty Good Privacy, and] the CEO of PGP Corp., has found himself back in the fiery debate between federal investigators and those who oppose their snooping–this time thanks to ZRTP, a technology for encrypting Internet telephone calls. ZRTP throws a wrench in the Bush administration’s controversial warrant-free wiretapping program and its proposed legal immunity for the telecommunications companies. So far, not even teams of supercomputers and cyberspies at the National Security Agency have cracked ZRTP. That means anyone who uses Zimmermann’s Zfone software, a ZRTP-enabled voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) program available for free on his Web site, can skirt the feds’ wiretapping altogether.
Source: Andy Greenberg,, March 18, 2008

At airport check-in, cellphones replace paper

Airline tries cellphone as boarding pass: Continental is the only carrier in the United States to begin testing the electronic passes, allowing those travelers to pass through security and board the plane without handling a piece of paper. Their boarding pass is an image of an encrypted bar code displayed on the phone’s screen, which can be scanned by gate agents and security personnel. When using the other airlines’ mobile check-in services, customers still have to print a boarding pass at an airport kiosk, though most carriers are eager to eliminate this step once the Transportation Security Administration gives its approval.
Source: Susan Stellin, The New York Times, March 18, 2008

Algorithm finds the network — for genes or the Internet

Human diseases and social networks seem to have little in common. However, at the crux of these two lies a network, communities within the network, and farther even, substructures of the communities. […] Many complex systems can be represented as networks including the genetic networks he studies, social networks and the Internet itself. The community structure of networks features a natural division in which the vertices in each subnetwork are highly involved with each other, though connected less strongly with the rest of the network. Communities are relatively independent of one another structurally, but researchers think that each community may correspond to a fundamental functional unit. A community in a genetic network usually contains genes with similar functions, just as a community on the World Wide Web often corresponds to Web pages on similar topics.
Source: Tony Fitzpatrick, Washington University in St. Louis, March 12, 2008

Voting for more than just either-or

Benjamin Mako Hill, while he was a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab’s Computing Culture group, created a system called Selectricity, which has been online as a free service since last fall and is about to unveil an upgraded version with more options. With this software, any user can go to the website ( and set up a “Quickvote” in just a few seconds, and users anywhere who have access to the Internet can then cast their votes, providing an instant tally. There’s even an ultra-simple version that works through cellphones using basic text messaging. The system is so simple that hundreds of people have been using it for decisions as simple and immediate as where to go for dinner or when to hold a meeting. But the system is also sophisticated enough to handle real elections, at least on a small scale.
Source: David Chandler, MIT News Office, March 14, 2008

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