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Good Thinking

Photoshop CS3 Extended – multimedia workflow and efficiency

March 8, 2007 Adobe is to expand its digital imaging product line in Autumn 2007, offering two editions of Adobe Photoshop CS3. As well as Photoshop CS3 software (currently in beta and available for download here), there’s to be a CS3 Extended version – everything in CS3 plus a new set of capabilities for integration of 3-D and motion graphics, image measurement and analysis. Photoshop CS3 Extended could significantly simplify your workflow if you’re in architecture, engineering, healthcare and science. CS3 Extended is primarily intended for film, video and multimedia professionals, and graphic and web designers and the idea is to leverage the power of the Photoshop image-editing toolset and paint engine when editing 3D and motion-based content. Film and video specialists can perform 3-D model visualisation and texture editing, paint and clone over multiple video frames. Animators can now render and incorporate 3-D content into their 2-D compositions. Graphic and web designers can create an animation from a series of images – such as time series data – and export it to a wide variety of formats, including QuickTime, MPEG-4 and Adobe Flash Video.  Read More

Innovative machines invade the forest – the Sawfish Underwater Harvester

March 8, 2007 The logging of forests is a very expensive affair, and when there’s a lot of money involved, you can always count on some very special machinery. Two perfect illustrations of this are Plustech/TimberJack/John Deere’s walking tractor prototype (videos here, here and here) and Triton Logging's Sawfish Underwater Harvester. The value of underwater forests in Canada was deemed so large that Triton has developed the Sawfish, a 3-tonne, 3.5-metre-long, yellow submersible with high-resolution cameras so an operator can direct it from the surface. The Sawfish then grasps the base of the tree with its powerful pincers, attaches an inflatable flotation bag to the tree, fills the bag with compressed air and then it cuts the tree with its 1.5-metre chainsaw and the flotation bag carries it to the surface – it can actually handle larger trees than any land-based mechanical harvester due to water buoyancy. As the world’s only deep-water logging machine, it’s a mash-up of remote control, timber-harvesting and submarine technology that can cut down a dozen trees in an hour, at depths of up to 300 metres. The machines are now available to other logging companies at a price around US$750,000 and with no new roads to build and no fires to control, logging underwater suddenly makes economic sense.  Read More

Hands-off shoe fitting

March 5, 2007 While some people just adore trying on shoes, for most of us, it’s a drag, but the application of new technologies by adidas looks set to free us from this tedium and save considerable time for everybody. This entertaining new form of shopping can be found on the Avenue des Champs Elysees, where adidas has opened its latest and most modern shop anywhere in the world. Customers can now try on a variety of models in front of a virtual mirror without changing their shoes. They can navigate through the collection by simply pointing at products on a computer screen.  Read More

nTAG V2 smart badging offers real-time event data management

March 4, 2007 Three years ago we wrote of the potential being displayed by a new form of interactive name badge for conferences and social events that significantly improved the quality of people-to-people connectivity. The nTAG system automates several social technologies and takes them into the business event arena where both host and attendee derive numerous benefits compared to the paper badges of the past. While stimulating conversation between attendees, nTAGs also help organisers to deliver event information, track attendance, manage security, send messages, and evaluate surveys and polls in real time – think about that for a moment – that’s real-time audience response. Worn like regular paper badges, nTAGs exchange data with one another using infrared sensors. As attendees approach each other, information is automatically transferred from tag to tag, requiring no action from the wearer. Then the tags' LCD screens illuminate and display information on shared interests - "Hi Karen, we both work in the fashion apparel industry." The nTAG system can now be purchased through nTAG or nTAG certified resellers, international distributor enquiries should be directed here and the system can be hired for as little as US$15,000. Great Flash demo here.  Read More

The world’s first Parliamentary election with internet voting

March 4, 2007 Today is an important date in history in that the world’s first parliamentary election involving internet voting is being held in Estonia, and is the first implementation of what is surely the future of eGovernment. The electronic voting took place earlier this week on Monday through Wednesday and more than 30,000 of Estonia’s one million eligible voters cast their vote via the internet, though those same voters can still vote today and their second vote only will be counted. To vote via the internet, voter needed an Estonian ID card with valid certificates and PIN-codes (bottom left) and access to a computer with a smart card reader (bottom right), a driver for the ID card (download here) and a Windows or Linux operating system. Via Physorg, Slashdot, The Christian Science Monitor, the Estonian Government, and the Estonian National Electoral Commission (good powerpoints here that explain the process)  Read More

Philips Digital Pocket Memo 9600 heralds a new era in productivity

March 2, 2007 To say that the Digital Pocket Memo 9600 is an important new tool for business professionals is an understatement. Even to state that the new 9600 represents the next generation of digital dictation technology is underplaying its importance way too much. Until now, dictation has been a largely under-utilised tool because for it to be used in an office environment, a dictation system and a secretary are required, and only the legal system has ever been organised enough to effectively employ dictation as an industry-wide productivity tool. With the new functionality of the Philips Digital Pocket Memo 9600, the device provides a ready-made system which can easily incorporate a dictation system into any office. Couple the 9600 with one of the new LAN Docking Station and it will transfer dictations through your LAN (local area network) to a transcriptionist or a speech recognition system without connecting to a PC. Encryption ensures that dictations are sent securely through the company network or the Internet, regardless of whether the destination is next door or on the other side of the world. There’s also a Barcode Module which snaps onto the 9600 - a highly compact laser scanner that retrieves important patient or client information by scanning the barcode. The scanned information is securely attached to the dictation, saving time and minimizing the risk of errors. The Barcode Module can also be used as a USB scanner device, directly transferring the barcode information to a PC. That’s the system – as far as the 9600 itself, well that is just a straightforward better mousetrap than has previously existed.  Read More

New Soil Moisture Smart Sensors

February 25, 2007 Sensors might never cost-efficiently replace the keen eye of a farmer for spotting fungus, signs of vermin or bird attack, growth rate, weed levels and a host of other almost intuitive inspections, but they are already offering a viable method of ensuring that precious crops are perfectly watered. Data Logging specialist Onset has just added two new plug-and-play Soil Moisture Smart Sensors to its wares, with the new sensors promising precise, long-term soil moisture monitoring. The Decagon ECH2O dielectric probes offer highly accurate measurements of volumetric water content in soil, and have low sensitivity to temperature and saline effects, broadening the range of soil types in which they can be used to include sandy and high-salinity soils and their compact form factor means they can be used in pots and greenhouses. The US$139-a-pop smart sensor design enables the sensors to be plugged into Onset’s 15-channel HOBO Weather Station and 4-channel HOBO Micro Station and automatically recognized without complicated wiring, programming or calibration.  Read More

First a nanobattery, now an ultra-sensitive Magnetometer

February 25, 2007 mPhase Technologies has been very successful in taking its message direct to the people in recent weeks with a video demonstration of its Smart Nanobattery on YouTube. The nanotech-based smart batteries (pictured bottom) can store reserve power for decades and generate electric current virtually on demand. Now mPhase has released another video, this time demonstrating its ultra-sensitive sensor magnetometer. “The extreme advantage of size, sensitivity and low cost allows us to develop the next generation of military and homeland security sensor applications while also addressing a number of commercial markets as well,” said mPhase Technologies’, Ron Durando. That's the magnetometer on the coin.  Read More

The Privacy-enhanced SmartCheck System

February 25, 2007 Ever since Al Queda ever so kindly pointed out the vulnerability of domestic airliners, the world has been paying a hefty bill in the form of added security. At first it was very costly, because much of it was labour-intensive, but then industry responded with ever-more-clever devices to screen humans and ensure they were weapon free. So good have the machines become at peering through clothing that many scanning techniques have become very invasive. It will hence be of some comfort to know that the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun testing the privacy enhanced SmartCheck personnel screening system today at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. SmartCheck provides optimum security by safely screening for a wide variety of threats concealed on a passenger, while ensuring their privacy. The SmartCheck system creates an image that looks like a chalk outline of the passenger with threats and contraband outlined, but does not reveal facial features. A product of X-ray detection technology specialist American Science and Engineering, the SmartCheck system installed in Phoenix cannot store, export, print, or transmit images. The machine produces images such as this privacy-enhanced SmartCheck scan of a female (front and back) which presents only an outline of the scanned individual and an outline of any threats on the person.  Read More

The Little White Purse by Saab

February 20, 2007 Targeted promotional opportunities for premium brands often makes for some strange bedfellows, and resulted this week in premium aerospace and automotive brand Saab releasing ‘The Little White Purse.’ Created by Fashion designer Osman Yousefzada, the purse was designed as an innovative way to keep a woman’s keys stylishly at hand. It banishes those clumsy key-fumbling moments so you look fashionably efficient while stepping into your car, home or workplace. According to Saab, on average a woman wastes one day each year fumbling around for keys in the bottom of her handbag, which does seem a lamentable waste of time. The clever design means the purse can be worn as a necklace, attached inside a handbag, or around a wrist where it could no doubt double as a weapon should the need arise.  Read More

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