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Good Thinking

Comprehensive Wireless Sensor Networking Solution

March 22, 2006 The monitoring of every aspect of the manufacturing process is something that has traditionally been done by hand, but with the advent of reliable, flexible, wireless sensors solutions the opportunities exist to create very cost effective and comprehensive wireless sensor networks monitoring entire factories, warehouses and almost any industrial process. One that caught our eye at the National Manufacturing Week (NMW) Conference in Chicago this week was a system that integrates sensors, software, and mesh networking devices into a turnkey solution offering plant/building managers instant actionable measurements of key operational levels (temperature, power, voltage, steam, water, air, flow, and pressure).  Read More

The Connection Glass facilitates and enhances meeting compatible people

March 20, 2006 Computer Mediated Communication significantly increases the size of your usual social or business contact universe and can give you a far greater choice of prospects to mine. On the other hand, there’s no substitute for being there, so you can assess them in person. Computers hold great promise in matching us with particularly suitable partners and we’ve written up several such concepts over the last few years, from proximity-based Bluetooth introduction via cell phones, through Xenofreaks PIX interactive visual display device through to nTAG’s interactive name badge for conferences and social events and even real-world gaming using GPS-capable mobile phones. All of these concepts offer communication both in a virtual world level and in a physical environment. Now there’s another viable idea IOHO - Priscilla Bernikowicz’s interactive glasses are designed to help us pick the right person in a room full of people.  Read More

Bridge between worlds of simulation codes

March 8, 2006 Simulation is vital to design and engineering: without repeated virtual testing, few high-end products would be what they are now. With an increasing need for high quality and reliable simulations multidisciplinary solutions become more and more important. Simulation technology is everywhere. Whether they are developing rocket engines, vehicle exhaust systems, bridges, heart valves or pressure valves, engineers always start by drawing up numerical equations. The equations for determining the various forces that combustion chambers, buildings or valves have to withstand and those that they need to control come from diverse physical disciplines. They may deal with the flow characteristics of gases or liquids on one hand, and mechanical forces on the other. Established numeric simulation codes exist for a majority of problems, but these can only partially represent reality: Coupling of different simulation codes, each specialized for a specific physical regime, is becoming more and more important for numerical simulations, both in industry and in research. The reason is that in many real-world applications the interaction of different physical phenomena must be taken into consideration in order to achieve high-quality predictions. The magic formula is known as 'code coupling'.  Read More

Layered fabrication now growing solid metal parts

March 6, 2006 A new rapid manufacturing and prototyping system that makes 100 percent solid metal parts has been introduced to the market - the ARCAM EBM S400. Employing a patented CAD-to-Metal process, which is based on Electron-Beam Melting (EBM), the highly efficient system produces parts from titanium powder and does so between three and five times faster than other additive fabrication methods. In contrast to laser sintering (SLS), the electron beam fully melts the metal particles to produce a void-free part. The process occurs in a high vacuum, which ensures the part is completely solid, without imperfections caused by oxidation.  Read More

Shipping container with a mind of its own

March 5, 2006 Radio frequency identification (RFID) of goods is currently revolutionising logistics. One practical application of the new technology is the Smart Box, a shipping container that can be located during transit and offers numerous other useful functions. One of the many applications for the new RFID tags is that of locating goods and containers in transit. German scientists have developed the “IFF Smart Box”, a container equipped with a scanning device that can check its contents by means of RFID. The data are forwarded to a small computer unit. A software combines them with the current geographical location determined by a GPS receiver. Various sensors can be integrated in the box, too, in order to measure parameters such as pressure, temperature or vibration. The information is transmitted to a database by mobile radio.  Read More

Innovative use of SMS by public utilities

February 23, 2006 As mobile phone penetration approaches ubiquity, the potential for technology to make our lives more productive grows daily. Two glowing examples of this have just been launched in Australia from organizations intent on changing public perception of them from low-tech utilities to high-tech service organizations. Mobile phone penetration in Australia is expected to reach 94% by mid-2006, enabling personalised information services to be delivered at new levels. Connex Melbourne operates 15 rail lines, 300+ trains, 200+ stations and carries 145 million passengers a year. Transport users can now register for SMS updates via the Connex web site, providing details of their travel patterns. When a train is delayed or cancelled, a personalised SMS message is sent advising of the delay and next scheduled service. Interactive SMS queries are also possible. Similarly, Australia Post’s new 'Mail2Day’ service is a notification service that lets Post Office Box customers know when they have received mail either by SMS or email.  Read More

Aliens closing at UK Science Museum and going on tour to France, Spain, USA

February 18, 2006 The Science of Aliens exhibition at the UK Science Museum is in its last week and will be closing on 26 February before it goes on its international tour. This much-praised exhibition is great brain fodder for anyone who has ever wondered what life may be like on other planets, enabling you to take a close look at famous aliens we all know, dive into the deep seas to find the alien creatures here on Earth and get interactive with a series of unique hands-on exhibits. The Science of Aliens blends our eternal fascination with life on other planets with the work of leading scientists who used the latest discoveries and scientific principles to imagine alien worlds and creatures, exploring the very real possibilities for alien life. Cutting edge hands-on displays will give visitors the chance to actually interact with these scientifically based creatures. The exhibition tour will start with Thinktank in Birmingham, UK, then onto France and Spain. There will also be a duplicate exhibition opening in Miami, USA in October.  Read More

The temporary physical Virtual Store

February 14, 2006 We’ve been hearing about the virtual store for many years now, with the hype growing to a crescendo during the first coming of the internet, and peaking just before the tech wreck. Since then, e-commerce has been growing steadily towards inevitable dominance at some point in the distant future. A spectacular initiative from American department store retailing institution J. C. Penney yesterday might cause everybody to rethink how e-commerce and the future of retailing might unfold though. The company will construct a 15, 000-square-foot physical manifestation of the virtual store at One Times Square on the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway, New York. In our humble opinion, the opening of this temporary virtual store from March 3-26, in which shoppers can purchase the company's full range of merchandise at interactive kiosks, marks a significant development in the history of retail. We believe that traveling virtual superstores could be a part of retailing’s future.  Read More

Web 2.0 – new tools, amazing functionality, vast opportunities

February 1, 2006 Do yourself a favour and follow this link, click on any of the pushpins on the map, suspend the disbelief for a moment and pretend you’re looking for an apartment to buy – apart from the wonderful organization of complex information, it’s a perfect example of the amazing functionality which could both disrupt and enhance current practices in the real estate industry and a great example of what a lot of people are referring to as “Web 2.0.” The term does not refer to a new version of the internet, but another fundamental development in the way that web sites are working together to provide an experience previously unthinkable. The concept of Web 2.0 is explained well here, and technology behind these wonderful new web applications is called Ajax, which is explained in laymans terms here and given some perspective here. Ajax has become the driving force behind some exciting new free web-based applications such as the Writely word-processor, NumSum spreadsheet and our favourite, Voo2do, a site that "offers advanced task and priority management for busy, ambitious individuals". Ajax threatens the very existence of PC-based software applications, and might even reinvent the entire software and internet industries, not to mention offering myriad new business possibilities. What a wonderful time to be alive!  Read More

3 billion people seek basic financial services – is Microfinance the answer?

January 29, 2006 Access to financial services can help poor and low-income clients increase and stabilize their incomes, build assets, and invest in their own future. A new book, Access for All: Building Inclusive Financial Systems published by CGAP and the World Bank, offers a fresh vision for the future. Drawing on lessons from 10 years of research, the book describes how microfinance can help poor people to become part of the financial mainstream. Access for All addresses the hotly-debated topics in microfinance today – the role of donors and governments; how to reach poorer clients, and those living in more remote rural regions; and the potential for new technology to reduce costs, allowing commercial businesses to serve poor clients. With only about one sixth of those who could use basic financial services currently having access, the book shows how to bridge that gap and reach the majority of the world’s population – the poor.  Read More

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