Wi-Fi is fast emerging as the most popular technology for wireless communication between disparate gadgets, but security remains a major concern. However, researchers at Boston University’s College of Engineering are working on an alternative way of connecting devices that will be innately more secure than Wi-Fi.
Moreover, an LED-based communication technology will enjoy a distinct security advantage. It will be more secure compared to Wi-Fi due to the inability of light to penetrate through opaque surfaces like walls.
“Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires,” said an ebullient Thomas Little, a BU engineering professor, about the idea. Soon, our networks will quite literally “light up”.
Just as we nerds have overhyped some technologies, we've also overlooked some even better alternatives. PC World has put on its thinking cap and posted its picks for the ten most overrated technology products and services - and alternatives that deserve a closer look.
So, How Would You Rate These Contenders?
Ultra-portable laptops versus mini-laptops
Microsoft Zune versus Apple iPod Touch
Windows XP versus Windows Vista
To discover which ones get the overrated razz, and which ones deserve some unexpected love, join us after the break.
Asus has recently admitted that some of their Eee Box desktop PC’s have shipped with a virus. While they’ve claimed that they’ve only sent boxes with viruses to Japan, it can be confirmed that other territories have received units as well.
As stated by an email sent out by Asus, the Eee Box’s 80GB hard drive has the “recycled.exe” virus files hidden in the drive’s D: partition. Once the drive is opened, the virus activates and infects the C: drive, as well as any removable drives connected to the system. Symantec states that the malware is likely to be a W32/Usbalex worm, which creates an “autorun.inf” file to trigger “recycled.exe” from D:.
With any luck, Asus will have this under control before they send out their next shipments. Until then though, be sure to look out for any of these new boxes shipping to a desk near you, they could be waiting to take all of your precious information.
E-waste is a global concern that is being deliberated upon by many researchers, legislators, activists and jurists globally. It seems all these people – at least in the U.S. – have more to think about, as it has come to light that e-waste is piling along the U.S. coastline. The large number of ships that sink around the U.S. don’t drown alone, but they carry computers that leach hazardous chemicals with them. The number of sunken vessels around the U.S. coastline is estimated to be around 10,000.
At this month’s Professional Developer Conference Microsoft will be handing out the software development kit for their Surface tabletop computer. In an announcement made on the PDC’s site, Robert Levy sates that attendees will be able to “learn how you can become a part of the expanding partner ecosystem for Microsoft Surface and leverage your existing investments in WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) and Visual Studio to build engaging end user applications. Attendees will receive access to the Microsoft Surface SDK.”
This announcement comes as a sigh of relief to developers, who have been promised the SDK for some time now. The only known companies with access to the SDK are AT&T and Starwood hotels, whose projects are unknown. Microsoft has also been stating that the multitouch interface will be part of Windows 7, but is yet to detail how.
Let’s just hope that Chris Taylor and his boys get started on their version of Supreme Commander for the Surface ASAP!
So you’re enjoying watching the baseball playoffs in HD, are you? Well, imagine yourself in the next 10 years watching these same playoffs in 3D. Dr. Nasser Peyghambarian (say that three times fast) of the University of Arizona is claiming that this could be possible, all thanks to hologram technology.
Dr. Peyghambarian, the chair of photonics and lasers at the University of Arizona’s Optical Sciences department claims that his crack team of scientists have broken a barrier by creating the first updatable three-dimensional displays with memory. "This is a prerequisite for any type of moving holographic technology. The way it works presently is not suitable for 3-D images," said Peyghambarian.
In order to create a television that’s capable of displaying 3D images they’ll need to create displays that can update multiple times per second, whereas they’ve only created displays that can update on a minute-by-minute basis.
Dr. Peyghambarian’s team has been hard at work on the technology since 1990, and believes that now that this breakthrough has been made the rest of the essentials will soon follow. "It took us a while to make that first breakthrough, but as soon as you have the first element of it working the rest often comes more rapidly," he said. "What we are doing now is trying to make the model better. What we showed is just one color, what we are doing now is trying to use three colors. The original display was four inches by four inches and now we're going for something at least as big as a computer screen."
There is some criticism though. Justin Lawrence, an authority on Electric Engineering at Bangor University in Wales said that while small steps are being made on technology like 3D holograms, but he can’t see it being available within the next ten years. "It's one thing to demonstrate something in a lab but it's another thing to be able to produce it cheaply and efficiently enough to distribute it to the mass market," said Lawrence.
A study by market research firm In-Stat has found that our dependence on wires is rapidly waning with the rise in the sales of embedded Wi-Fi devices. The study pegged the sale of embedded Wi-Fi devices around the world at 294 million units in 2007. It expects the figure to leapfrog to 1 billion by 2012.
According to the study, Wi-Fi enabled cell phones will usurp PCs as the most popular (largest) category of Wi-Fi devices. Even digital TVs are expected to interact with a wide gamut of devices using Wi-Fi in the imminent future. As Wi-Fi marches towards ubiquity, there are some compatibility and security issues that need to be addressed urgently.
Recording to Blu-ray media looks to get a big boost from Sanyo, who announced the development of a new blue laser diode the company says is capable of burning 100GB of data in as little as 10 minutes.
Current Blu-ray media tops out at 50GB of storage space (dual-layer), but Sanyo's 5.6mm diode can emit a beam of 450 milliwatts, or roughly twice that of Sanyo's currently highest power laser for Blu-ray devices. The high power laser makes it possible to read and write data on up to four layers at a 12x speed. To put that into perspective, Sanyo says one disc could record up to 8 hours of high-definition content.
It will be awhile before the new diode finds its way into consumer products. Sanyo says it will be another 2 to 3 years before production takes place, and by then, who knows what the state of Blu-ray will be like.
A machine’s ability to think is something that’s been questioned for nearly half a century, thanks to mathematician Alan Turing. Turing, who helped decipher German military codes during WWII, created a test that is designed to find out if a machine can think on its own. The test consists of a machine attempting to fool a judge into believing that it could be a human by having a text-based conversation on any subject. If the computer’s responses convince the judge that they are speaking with a human, then it has passed the Turing test, and is believed to be capable of thought.
This Sunday, six computer programs will be put through the Turing test in an attempt to win their creator not only an 18-carat gold medal and $100,000, but to prove that computers are capable of thought. The programs competing for the prize go by the names Alice, Brother Jerome, Elbot, Eugene Goostman, Jabberwacky and Ultra Hal. While the names sound like those of rejected VH1 reality show contestant names, they’re far more intelligent, and won’t be spitting on any of their opponents anytime soon.
Should the computers be found to have the ability to think, it’ll raise ethical questions as to how conscious a computer is, and if humans have the “right” to switch them off.
But the Turing test isn’t for everyone. "The test is misguided. Everyone thinks it's you pitting yourself against a computer and a human, but it's you pitting yourself against a computer and computer programmer,” criticizes Professor AC Grayling of Birkbeck College, “AI is an exciting subject, but the Turing test is pretty crude."
Do you think you’ve got what it takes to decipher whether or not you’re talking to a computer? Test your mental mettle after the jump.
Last Friday the world’s largest computing grid was launched in order to help tackle the nearly 15 million gigabytes of data that will be coming out of the Large Hadron Collider every year. 33 countries are already contributing 140 computer centers to the project, but with that much data, they’ll need worldwide assistance.
Here in the U.S. we’ve got 15 universities and three Department of Energy national laboratories contributing their power to the project (and maybe you, if you’ve decided to contribute your spare CPU cycles to the project). And every last bit of that help will be needed, because when the LHC finally gets up to full speed it will produce enough data to fill six CD’s per second.
Once the data has been processed, physicists from around the world will begin searching for he tiny signals that will lead them to discoveries about the nature of the physical universe. And perhaps then, they’ll be able to explain just why they LHC will rock us in the head.