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The Last Ride of the Pony Express - painted by  George M. Ottinger in 1873 - showing a Pon...

After linking the world for 167 years, the commercial electric telegraph is no more. The speed with which electromagnetic telegraph systems took over both short- and long-distance communication in the mid 19th century set the pattern which telephones and the internet would follow, spawning the connected world we now live in. The closing down of India's state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam, Ltd. (BSNL) network on Monday sparked a last-minute rush of people looking to send a souvenir telegram to mark the historic event before the electric telegraph was relegated to the history books.  Read More

This artist's concept of OPALS in operatin (Image: NASA)

In internet engineering, there’s a problem called the “last half mile," which looks at how to connect users to high-speed fiber optic networks without going through old-fashioned copper wires that can slow data down to a crawl. NASA has more of a “last 250 miles” problem in making data connections with the International Space Station (ISS). The upcoming Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) project is an optical technology demonstration for using lasers to improve communications with the ISS and other spacecraft in hopes of boosting connection speeds by a factor of 10 to 100.  Read More

Ford's Electronic Brake Light system alerts drivers to other vehicles that are braking in ...

The Ford Motor Company recently tested its experimental “Electronic Brake Light” system, as part of the 4-year Safe Intelligent Mobility - Testfield Germany (simTD) joint industry research project. The technology causes a dashboard light to illuminate in your car, when a vehicle in front of you applies its brakes.  Read More

PayPal is looking to extend its brand across the Solar System (Image: Digitally-altered fr...

PayPal has teamed with the SETI Institute and the Space Tourism Society to start preparations for the coming upheavals of Solar System commerce. Having whetted their teeth on global commerce, PayPal is looking forward to the challenge of figuring out how to let John or Jill check their balance when they are living on Mars or visiting the Orbital Technologies commercial space station. It's answer is PayPal Galactic.  Read More

One of the PairASight prototypes shown at CE Week in New York

Imagine if you were having a real-time conversation with someone at another location, and wanted them to see what you were seeing, from the perspective you were seeing it. Well, you soon may be able to do just that, once the PairASight project is up and running.  Read More

GiraffPlus is an assisted living system for the elderly

GiraffPlus is an EU-funded project that uses telepresence technology to monitor the elderly in their own homes. The system has already been tested in a demo apartment in Örebro, Sweden. Now GiraffPlus is being taken further afield to be tested in real homes in Sweden, Italy and Spain.  Read More

The Car-to-X system will warn drivers of hazards and obstacles

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications are a fundamental pillar of autonomous, self-driving cars. Once vehicles can exchange data with each other and the greater driving infrastructure, they'll be able to "see" and adapt to driving obstacles more completely, preventing accidents and delivering more efficient driving. Mercedes plans to be the first automaker to bring a Car-to-X vehicle-to-vehicle communications system to market.  Read More

MIT has developed a computer program that assesses its user's conversational skills

Whether it’s a job interview or a hot date, there are certain interpersonal situations where we really want to be at our best. In some cases, we may even run through possible conversational scenarios in our heads beforehand, in order to “train” for the big event. The problem is, those imaginary interactions can’t provide us with unbiased feedback on what we could stand to improve. MIT’s new MACH (My Automated Conversation coacH) software, however, does exactly that.  Read More

Atrist's concept of a PCAS heads-up display

The popular image of modern warfare is the digital battlefield where cyber soldiers have Terminator-like video displays and can call in an airstrike with the shine of a laser beam. While information technologies are revolutionizing the military, when it comes to calling in Close Air Support (CAS), it’s still World War One – where a misread or misheard grid reference can end up with soldiers being hit by their own artillery. DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program hopes to improve this.  Read More

An Intelligent Transport System being developed at La Trobe University is aimed at prevent...

In the quest for smarter and safer transportation networks, automakers have been working on communication systems that use wireless technologies to share information between vehicles and infrastructure, such as traffic lights, road works, intersections and stop signs. The potential applications of these vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) systems are constantly being expanded, and while GM has been working to bring cyclists and pedestrians into the mix, a team from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, is looking to improve safety at railway crossings by developing a system that enables communication between trains and road vehicles.  Read More

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