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Good Thinking

Custom Gift Card Kiosks

December 15, 2006 Since the first Christmas card was sent in the year 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, the traditional has caught on and the Christian Festival is now the largest card-sending occasion in most European countries, the United States, Australia and a bunch of others. As far as we’re aware, George W Bush sends the most Christmas cards each year (approx. 1.4 million Christmas cards), America sends 1.9 billion Christmas cards and we warrant there’d be a few more sent across the rest of the world too. So it’s interesting to see the development of the Christmas card via personalised gift kiosks and on-line services such as Cardways. The Macy's Custom Gift Card Kiosk by Cardways is being tested in select locations in San Francisco and San Jose to give customers a more personal gift card experience. You can personalize your cards with photos and the message you want for that person, and ordered online or at the kiosk, the company prints, addresses and mails your cards for you.  Read More

Lab-grown diamonds now an alternative

December 14, 2006 Diamonds may well be the world’s most beautiful gem, though we suspect there are many factors contributing to why they remain a “girl’s best friend.” The association with love may soon be tested as technological advances have finally enabled laboratory-created diamonds which have a distinct advantage over their naturally occurring identical twins - they are 100% conflict-free and have not paid the wages of a child soldier, been exchanged for armaments, financed a brutal civil war or have been smuggled at least part of the way to landing on that engagement ring. The New York Times writes ,“Across vast stretches of Africa, diamonds fuel war. Diamonds are so lucrative for predatory governments and marauding rebels that war has become a useful cover for hugely profitable smuggling enterprises. But for millions of Africans who happen to get in the way, diamonds are agents of terror.” In addition to their humane aspects, lab-diamonds also have virtually no environmental impact and they are physically, chemically and optically identical to mined diamonds yet a fraction of the cost. Of course, there are those not even convinced in the worth of diamonds in the first place. For example, “the diamond engagement ring is a 63-year-old invention of N.W.Ayer advertising agency. The De Beers diamond cartel contracted N.W.Ayer to create a demand for what are, essentially, useless hunks of rock.”  Read More

An iPat image

December 14, 2006 Just the thing for checking whether that’s a gun in their pocket or they’re just pleased to see you. Sago’s full body imager, iPat, recently completed and passed rigorous location and identification testing on a variety of explosive threats. The tests took place in cooperation with a leading security equipment provider. iPat was unveiled in September during the ASIS security show in San Diego. The aPat handheld personnel screening tool and iPat do not radiate X-rays or microwaves at any level. Both products are designed to provide primary or secondary screening in high security applications such as airline passenger screening or access control. They passive millimeter-wave/thermal imaging products image a person’s natural body heat to detect the presence of hidden threats such as explosives, liquids, guns, and knives.  Read More

Figure 1 - World Wealth Levels in Year 2000

December 7, 2006 A new study on The World Distribution of Household Wealth by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University was launched earlier this week. The study shows the richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth. The most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken also reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth. The research finds that assets of US$2,200 per adult placed a household in the top half of the world wealth distribution in the year 2000. To be among the richest 10% of adults in the world required US$61,000 in assets, and more than US$500,000 was needed to belong to the richest 1%, a group which — with 37 million members worldwide — is far from an exclusive club.  Read More

Research shows the message in advertising is irrelevant

December 5, 2006 Now here’s a story that is certain to fuel debate – new research undertaken by the University of Bath’s School of Management shows that creativity and emotion are what makes advertising successful, not the message it is trying to get over. University of Bath’s Dr Robert Heath (pictured) found that advertisements with high levels of emotional content enhanced how people felt about brands, even when there was no real message. However, advertisements which were low on emotional content had no effect on how favourable the public were towards brands, even if the ad was high in news and information.  Read More

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

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