Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

Good Thinking

ITER, the Fusion Device and the Remote Operation and Virtual Reality Centre

November 29, 2006 Every country should have one – it’s the US$10 Billion ITER Fusion Test Reactor currently being constructed in the South of France to provide the know-how to subsequently build the first electricity-generating power station based on magnetic confinement of high temperature plasma - in other words, to capture and use the power of the sun on earth for peaceful purposes. ITER is something to be proud of – it is a joint international research and development project that aims to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion as a source of power for mankind – ample power would significantly lessen the chance of war. The partners in the project are the European Union (represented by EURATOM), Japan, China, India, South Korea, the Russian Federation and America. On earth, the aim is to harness this energy source to produce electricity in a safe and environmentally benign way, with abundant fuel resources, to meet the needs of a growing world population. Ministers from the ITER parties came together recently to sign the agreement to establish the organization and it’s very likely these pictures will be in school text books a thousand years from now . The signature ceremony took place at the Elysée Palace in Paris and was hosted by the President Jacques Chirac and by the President of the European Commission, M. Jose Manuel Durao Barroso. ITER Director General Nominee Kaname Ikeda said the meeting, the ITER Organization would now embark on “its mission, as a worldwide international cooperation, to help create a new source of energy for humankind”. We’re not sure if we’re more excited about the FUSION device or the Remote Operation and Virtual Reality Centre (ROViR) development centre where the test equipment is located. ROViR develops industrial design and control systems, tapping the expertise of VTT and TUT's hydraulics and automation department. Remote operation and virtual technologies play a central role in the maintenance of the ITER reactor, but they also possess huge application potential for industry.  Read More

US$100 Loc8tor finds of your keys, personal electronics, pets, children and your business ...

November 21, 2006 There are few things more disarming than losing your keys, your convergent mobile device, your pet, your child or your Personal Media Player – with the possible exception of the last on that list, they are all stop-what-you-are-doing occurrences that require immediate attention elsewise life might go pear shaped for an indefinite period. Similarly, there are few things as frustrating as driving several miles down the road before remembering you’ve left one of them behind. Similarly, being advised immediately one of these items is leaving your vicinity in the wrong hands would be wonderful thing. Last but now least, if you could apply said functionality to any physical asset be it at home or at work, would it be worthwhile? Would you be prepared to pay a few hundred dollars to ensure you knew your loved ones and things were within safe distance, forever? The Loc8tor (UK site - US site) does all that - it helps find important possessions and can even stop them from getting lost in the first place. A blend of old and new technology, Loc8tor provides the first affordable personal homing device of its kind. On the business front, Loc8tor Plus is an affordable business tool for asset or stock auditing and a solution to the problem of theft from offices and warehouses. It's available now to buy, distribute or license.  Read More

Boeing begins using Moving Assembly Line for 777 Jetliners

November 14, 2006 The moving production line concept was around for more than a century before Henry Ford famously used it to speed output and cut costs and hence transform the automotive industry a century ago. So do we now know all there is to know about manufacturing efficiency? Not by a long shot! The Boeing Company has just started using a moving assembly line for the first time to build its market-leading 777 jetliner. Earlier this year, Boeing began work to transform its 777 assembly line into a leaner and more efficient production system. This initial use of a moving line during final assembly represents substantial progress with that transformation effort. Assembled one-by-one, it takes 26 days to assemble the 777’s three million constituent parts, but with a moving production line, the aim is to cut that time to just eight days. For now, the moving assembly line is used only during final assembly positions for the airplane, moving it at a steady pace of 1.6 inches per minute during production.  Read More

The internet cloud, the Petabyte Age and Bell’s Law

November 12, 2006 Wired Magazine was there at the origin of the internet magazine species. Seed-funded by MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte, it gave us the world’s first banner advert and continues to give and give. One of its primary drawcards is George Gilder whose columns are always worth reading, and if you’re looking towards the future from the point of view of an investor, the Gilder Technology Report is even more worthwhile. This month he writes a particularly insightful piece about “the dawning of the petabyte age”, and the coming of “the Internet cloud, where massive facilities across the globe will store all the data.” An excerpt: “Moore's law has a corollary that bears the name of Gordon Bell, the legendary engineer behind Digital Equipment's VAX line of advanced computers and now a principal researcher at Microsoft. According to Bell's law, every decade a new class of computer emerges from a hundredfold drop in the price of processing power. As we approach a billionth of a cent per byte of storage, and pennies per gigabit per second of bandwidth, what kind of machine labors to be born? How will we feed it? How will it be tamed? And how soon will it, in its inevitable turn, become a dinosaur?” Via Slashdot  Read More

Reinventing the Clock

November 7, 2006
Reinventing the Clock

November 8, 2006 This is huge we tell ya – huge! We’ve written about Ambient Devices before – it’s a very clever company that produces “glanceable” information displays to provide people with constant awareness of important information, but without increasing anxiety due to information overload. Ambient's vision is to embed information representation into everyday objects such as lamps, pens, watches, walls, and wearables so the physical environment becomes an interface to digital information rendered in subtle changes in form, movement sound, colour or light. Now the company is working on a tabletop clock that integrates and displays your daily calendar schedule and the equally innovative design process is garnering input directly from Google Calendar users. This population consists largely of "Lead Users," defined by Dr. Eric von Hippel from the MIT Sloan School of Management as customers at the "leading edge" that are currently experiencing needs that will later be experienced by the majority (you!). You can setup and test your own online version of the clock here and integrate it into your Google Homepage or Google Desktop and there are alternate designs available for viewing and comment. Like we said ... HUGE!  Read More

Aeros to develop peacetime Walrus that will will do to the cargo industry what Internet di...

November 6, 2006 The DARPA Walrus program, one of the most ambitious projects ever scoped, may have been officially wound up due to budgetary constraints, but in achieving the program objectives, chief contractor Aeros Aeronautical Systems believes that the technological concepts successfully demonstrated by the program provides a basis of confidence on which to launch a new commercial effort to build a full scale demonstration vehicle. Aeros President Igor Pasternak believes that "Aeroscraft will do to the cargo industry what Internet did for information exchange. With continuous development of this technology we move a step closer to the next breakthrough in aerospace innovation." The Walrus is a massive blimp that can transport 500 military units in their entirety but could equally offer myriad peacetime solutions, opening land-locked countries to trade, enabling heavy construction materials to be delivered into urban centres with minimum disruption and facilitating a more robust and agile air transportation network. Indeed, business logistics could be completely rethought because many physical transportation limits would no longer apply once a fleet of commercial Walruses (Aeroscraft) became available. The Aeroscraft does not require an airstrip and can land on water or on open ground.  Read More

The Wallet Pen

October 29, 2006
The Wallet Pen

October 30, 2006 People often write to us to ask what the criteria are for a story on Gizmag.com and we respond that a great concept is the key and there are no rules beyond that because if we applied strict criteria, we might discourage or exclude something. The Wallet Pen is a perfect example – it’s simply a three inch sterling silver pen that’s small enough to fit in your wallet and still allow the wallet to be slipped into a pocket without endangering your private parts. It fits that empty space at the fold of every wallet and it ensures that when we need a pen, we’ve got one. To add to the illusion we’re classy folk, the Wallet Pen is an ideal prop, being handcrafted from solid Sterling Silver and clearly quality stuff – indeed, it’s guaranteed forever. How many times have you had to borrow a pen?  Read More

Palm Vein-based Biometric ID system for schools

October 26, 2006 When we first saw Fujitsu Europe’s plans to develop a palm vein biometric identification system for schools, we thought that perhaps it was a case of overkill, but the more we looked, the more it made sense. The initial system installation in a Scottish primary school addresses the need for a secure non-token or cashless system to provide Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) for their catering facilities. The system uses pre-registered palm vein patterns from the pupils and staff to manage individual accounts thereby creating a cashless catering solution. The flexibility of the PalmReader design means that the technology can be expanded to provide biometric access control applications to monitor truancy levels, facilitate accurate attendance at classes and overall better time management for teachers. The installation provides a glimpse of the coming cashless society and also the school of the future.  Read More

Grancrete – could a new concrete solve many of the world’s most pressing problems?

October 20, 2006 The United Nations estimates there are almost a billion poor people in the world, 750 million of whom live in urban areas without adequate shelter and basic services. An ingenious new building technology from scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and Casa Grande LLC could help alleviate and perhaps even solve that major humanitarian problem by providing affordable housing for the world's poorest. A tough new ceramic material that is almost twice as strong as concrete may be the key to providing high-quality, low-cost housing throughout developing nations. The ceramic is called Grancrete, which, when sprayed onto a rudimentary Styrofoam frame, dries to form a lightweight but durable surface. The resulting house is a major upgrade to the fragile structures in which millions of the world's poorest currently live. Using conventional techniques, it takes 20 men two weeks to build a house. A five person crew can construct two grancrete homes in one day. There’s also plenty of commercial upside in developed nations, making low-cost buildings viable for a variety of purposes – we can see inflatable technology marrying with Grancrete construction to evolve an entirely new way of building lavishly complex structures that would be impossible any other way.  Read More

A glimpse at the future of the Human-Computer Interface

October 20, 2006 With applications in just about every forseeable field of personal and business computing, we're expecting the Upravlator keyboard (the latest concept from Art Lebedev, and the cousin of the Optimus keyboard) to do very well when it hits the market. It's a 10.8 inch, 640x480 LCD with twelve square buttons occupying it's surface. The twelve buttons each have five contacts - one in the center, top, bottom, left and right, which are freely assignable to UI elements in the software of your choice.  Read More

Looking for something? Search our 31,683 articles