Communications

TR: Week in Review

The mobile Web gets split in two…Star Trek communicators and next-generation robots get developed…climate change is coming…and the FCC gets a new leader. Plus, one-offs and other news in The Week in Review.

When Two Webs Collide

There’s no doubt that the rise of a truly mobile Internet is here. But it’s bubbling up in two distinct flavors: computer-based providers using WiFi and future technologies such as UltraWideband and smart phone providers optimizing content for smaller screens.

Last week, the smart phone set got the biggest boost.

CIO Today reported that two multimedia content providers, CinemaNow and MediaPass Networks, plan to sell downloadable music videos for smart phones.

Meanwhile, Bitstream is developing an advanced phone browser called ThunderHawk that relies on data-compression so it can deliver full-blown HTML pages instead of scaled-down content.

TechWeb reported that Sprint launched a new suite of services that enables companies to manage smart phones and other wireless devices with the same level of control and security that they use for laptops.

As always, though, the biggest news comes from the adult entertainment industry. According to a Reuter’s story, the smart phone porn sales are about to explode.

During a seminar last week, one of the Web’s founders, Tim Berners-Lee, urged designers to make their pages accessible to browsers on cell phones if they want to stay competitive in the fast-growing world of the wireless Web.

All of this, though, doesn’t mean WiFi is being left behind. The new WiFi-enabled PlayStation Portable is not only good for gaming, but will soon also be good for accessing content and data using the Web.

While the two Webs continue to develop independently of each other, a relatively new company Clearwire is working on a way to bridge the two.

The telecom operator offers broadband service through cellular networks so that a computer can get the Internet anywhere a user can get a cellphone signal. Clearwire is also going to dive into Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – which means that the PC may soon have smart phone capabilities.

Science Fiction, Now

Even though we are not orbiting Europa a la 2001 (although it might happen fairly soon), the future depicted in science fiction novels is slowly coming true.

The BBC News reports that Hitachi has produced the first humanoid robot, Emiew, that could actual give Honda’s Asimo a roll for its money.

Siemens has developed a Bluetooth-enabled home communicator that Trekkers have been dreaming about for years. The device would allow the wearer to control in-home systems using voice commands. Oh, and it can also be used to make phone calls.

And, along the same lines, University of California at Berkeley students have developed the MicroJet, a needle-less system to deliver injections through skin pours without ever touching the body.

The army is going to re-deploy its laser-totin’ hummer that uses a Nd:YAG green laser to search out and destroy landmines.

And, the Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand has developed a virtual reality system that brings new meaning to the term “popup.”

The End of the World as We Know It

A new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research shows that, regardless of what technologies are developed, the world will experience severe consequences of climate change by the end of this century.

Even if the world doesn’t take a hit, acid rain is probably stunting the growth of U.S. forests, especially in the Northeast.

That may be the least of our problems, though, as Harvard researchers now believe that the growing obesity epidemic could actually cause life expectancy to drop for the next generation of Americans.

Copy Fight

The announcement that Kevin Martin has been named the new Federal Communications Commission chairman has elicited mixed emotions from technology industries.

Martin is generally more conservative than outgoing chairman Michael Powell, and may be even more vicious when it comes to regulating television programming. However, he has shown himself to be less aggressive about deregulation, especially when it comes to Internet providers.

In the meanwhile, Orrin Hatch will be in charge of a new Senate panel responsible for developing copyright laws. Hatch is best known to the digerati for his support for anti-file sharing legislation. The INDUCE Act, which he stands behind, would have made iPods illegal if he hadn’t agreed to special exemptions for such technologies.

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