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NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone, Alcatel, Siemens to build 'Super 3G' technology - report

TOKYO, Dec 31, 2004 (AFX-Europe via COMTEX) -- The world's 26 major mobile phone operators and telecommunication equipment-makers have agreed to work on a global standard for a super fast mobile transmission technology, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily reported, without quoting sources.

The group includes NTT DoCoMo and NEC of Japan, Britain's Vodafone Group PLC, US cellphone carrier Cingular Wireless, Alcatel of France and Siemens AG of Germany, the newspaper said.

Using the new technology called Super 3G, the group plans to launch by 2009 global services for transmitting large volumes of moving images by mobile phones at a speed 10 times faster than the current 3G (third-generation) technology, the report said.

Super 3G can boost mobile transmission speeds to a range of 30 to 100 megabits per second to match existing land line fiber optic telecom technology, allowing movies, games or home videos to be played on handsets with a much higher resolution, it said.

The report said the cost of upgrading the mobile telecommunication network for Super 3G in Japan may top 100 bln yen (975 mln usd).

The report could not be confirmed by Vodafone's Japan unit, NTT DoCoMo Inc, or NEC Corp.
More on Super 3G:

Cell cos link for high-speed norm

Mobile Phone Firms for New High-Speed Standard

'Super 3G' technology proposed for next-gen cell phones

The new technology, dubbed Super 3G, is said to capable of "almost instantaneously transmitting high-resolution video," the report said. Super 3G could hit the streets as early as 2009, according to the report.


Progress goes in one direction.

Progress. Change. The rate of change. I've used these kinds of abstractions a lot to describe the forces at work that are driving the world to the point of saturation of information and intelligence. Those of us who are parents can see these ideas in a very tangible form every day of our lives.

One day you've got a little tadpole-thing swimming in your wife's belly, the next you've got somebody kicking like crazy in there and doing loop-the-loops during the night. Eventually the baby is born and then you really get to see it happen. The baby who starts out as totally helpless and immobile quickly learns to sit up, crawl, and before you know it, is scurrying around the house on two feet as happy as can be. And every single milestone is a point of demarcation in time -- your baby only gets bigger and stronger and more capable and powerful every single day that passes.

'Remember when he was just a tiny little baby?' Yes! But that's what it is, remembering. Because there's no reversion, there's no going back. And this is how it is too as an investor in the information economy. It's pretty easy to remember a time not 10 years ago before widespread adoption of the internet, before WiFi, before picture phones and cell phone TV. But that's not the world we live in now, and it never will be again. The things that have been put in place through technological progress and standards adoption will only set the stage for more capable and powerful technologies to come -- and even more powerful waterfalls of economic growth than those that were spawned by their predecessors.

When you think of the information economy we know today as something that's still in its infant stages, it piques your curiosity. What forms will it take? What will be the engines of growth? What's going to surprise me?

It's impossible to know all the answers to those questions. But through a careful study of trends in existing technology, attention to the bleeding edges of research in all forms of IT, and immersion in the imaginations of the great writers and futurists of our time -- in particular Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec, one can arrive at an understanding of the kinds of things we're likely to see.

Intelligence Everywhere

Through a process of networking every single device that plugs into an electrical outlet, applying RFID tags to billions of items electronic and otherwise, and developing highly sophisticated geographic information systems, we will be able to saturate the world indoors and out with information and intelligence. The 'web page' will not be our point of interaction with the internet, but rather the internet will fade into the background of everyday life as a form of 'ambient intelligence'. Intelligent software agents will perform many of the mundane and repetitive tasks required of us to navigate cyberspace like checking for emails, emptying spam folders, clicking around, typing, etc.

The result of this will be an active, personalized 'information overlay' on top of the world as we know it, that allows us to control devices, interact with people around the world, receive and push information back out to others instananeously. Information relevant to each of us will be gathered from the web and displayed as it happens or as our preferences suggest. The familiar 'news crawl' from cable news will accompany us where ever we go, customized to meet our individual needs.

Microvision virtual display eyeglasses, and eventually contact lenses, will be the medium through which we interact and control our experience of this successor to the internet as we know it. The unique capabilities of these virtual displays will allow us to be able to enter augmented reality or virtual reality whenever we like by either overlaying see-through digital content onto our field of view, or creating an immersive 3D 'holodeck' experience that occludes the outside world. Virtual reality environments, seen today as 3D video games inhabited by character-representative avatars, will be as detailed and believable as our regular vision of life. This will be made possible through rapidly advancing graphic processing hardware and corresponding software.

If billions of dollars are spent today on cell phone ringtones, video games, wallpapers and screen savers, as well as fees for services like picture mail, and in the immediate term cell phone TV, it's easy to imagine that there are trillions of dollars to be made from these types of ambient intelligence services -- from the buildout of new types of networks that will connect everything to the chips that will provide the intelligence in it all, to the virtual displays that will be our window to the early 21st century.

And, all this just takes us to early adolescence! When you consider that all of these changes, once established, become the norm that is then necessarily put in the rear-view mirror, it can be mind-boggling to think of where we'll end up in just 20 or 30 years. Like all fathers, we will watch with amusement and wonder as our little boy internet grows into each new phase of his development. Planning in advance for these changes will allow us to put our real life kids through 'space college' without having to move into a trailer park, hopefully.

It's been a great year chronicling the convergence of forces that will result in the eventual mega-success of Microvision. Thanks to all the readers who wrote in over the course of the year! I really appreciate your feedback. Here are some of the kind things you've had to say about MVIS Blog during 2004:

"i enjoy your blog page, it is helping me understand the company." B.

"What is a guy to do on a slow day during the week of Christmas? He reads the Blog from start to finish." J.

"the blog's one stop shopping for important items is great." H.

"your blog is increasingly a work of genius and art." D.

"Congratulations to your Blog. It's very interesting." T.

"I so much appreciate your updates on the Microvision Blog." D.

"Your insight is amazing, and I am confident your vision is absolutely correct." D.

"again, my thanks for the mvis blog - you are really doing a great job!!!!!!!!!" S.

"I find myself waking up every morning and checking the MVIS stock price first and then going to your blog next to see if you have anything new to report. Thank you very much and keep up the great work!" P.

"Hello and thank you for the great work on organizing and providing us MVIS supporters with this information." D.

"wanted to say that you're doing a hell of a job on the blog and, quite honestly, are revealing yourself as an extremely clear thinking, balanced and foward looking fellow." D.

"Loved the 'Parallax Scan' - very interesting observations." J.

"Thanks for the great job you do on the Microvision Blog." D.

"I especially enjoy your commentary after each of the items you post. I like to get a long and the short of things from a MVIS fellow long." J.

"Thanks for all you do. Keep up the good work!" P.

"Thanks for doing the Blog, BJ." M.

"just to say thank you for your good work here and some nice greetings from Germany." M.

Yeah, I'm going on vacation, really...

But before I head off, here's an interesting link provided by view from afar:

Telephone Business Gears Up to Deliver TV

Telephone Business Gears Up to Deliver TV Via Phone, Cell Phone Lines With Technology Partners

NEW YORK (AP) -- If everything goes as planned, the telephone industry will be all about television in 2005. TV over your home phone line. TV on your cell phone. Few topics have been as popular this past year among phone companies and their technology partners.

"There's one application knocking on the door and consumers are truly hungering for it: real-time TV and streaming TV," Anssi Vanjoki, general manager for multimedia at cell phone maker Nokia Corp., proclaimed at a recent investment conference.

Similarly bold pronouncements have been emanating from a growing list of powerful names, from local phone giants Verizon Communications Inc. and SBC Communications Inc., to wireless chipmakers Qualcomm Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc., to Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and none other than Microsoft Corp.

Such talk is hardly new. But this time telephone companies are backing their words with billions of dollars to upgrade their networks.

Both wired and wireless players are intent on moving beyond simple phone calls, a business where revenues and customers are being lost to price wars and new rivals -- especially with the arrival of cheap voice-over-Internet phone services from cable TV companies, AT&T Corp. and dozens of smaller players.

While the strategy includes video games and other interactive offerings, the biggest revenue target is the cable TV market: In 2004, consumers paid more than $36 billion for their cable TV, and that programming generated nearly $19 billion in ad revenue, according to the National & Cable Telecommunications Association.

Although mobile service providers are rolling out next-generation technologies that are speedy enough to deliver a TV signal, there are limits to how much network capacity they can divert away from phone calls and wireless Internet access. And just as they interfere with calls, gaps in network coverage may disrupt a TV feed.

On the device side, while screen quality has improved, TV presents a challenge in terms of battery life, processing power and storage capacity.

And then there's the pesky question of whether people truly want to watch TV on such a tiny screen and would be willing to pay much extra for it. [ding, ding! we have a winner! -- Ed.]

Nevertheless, the buzz on cell TV has been coming in loud and clear on multiple fronts, with many proponents pointing to strong demand for mobile video services in South Korea. Usage became so heavy on one Korean carrier's network that it withdrew an all-you-can-eat pricing plan and switched to a pay-as-you-go approach.

Sprint Corp. already offers two premium TV services to its cell phone customers, using MobiTV from Idetic Inc., though the quality is crude compared with real television. Sprint won't disclose how many subscribers have signed on, but says the positive response to its first service was a driving force in launching the second this past summer.

Among content providers, Fox recently announced plans to produce one-minute episodes of its "24" television series for Vodafone Group PLC, the world's biggest cell phone company. Disney plans to launch an ESPN-brand cell phone company in 2005 featuring a wide range of sports content including streaming audio and video.

Qualcomm and Texas Instruments also appear to see potential in cell TV. The two rivals are developing competing wireless chips to receive and process TV signals in an efficient, high-quality manner.

Qualcomm is even hoping to address other obstacles to mobile TV beyond its normal expertise.

The company plans to launch a national cellular TV service in 2006 over its own spectrum, broadcasting up to 20 channels for wireless carriers to sell their customers.

Hey gang,

I'm heading off for a much needed vacation.

Have a great holiday and I'll get back with ya real soon!

Best regards,


The Top Ten Technologies: #3 Augmented Reality

The promise of immersive technology for education

An emerging technology promises to make "educational immersion" available to practically everyone. This technology is called augmented reality, and it works by overlaying seemingly-real experiences on top of a person's local environment. Let me explain:

A person who wishes to experience a learning session via augmented reality would don a pair of see-through glasses that also host two tiny video cameras and a pair of earphones. A tiny computer, perhaps worn on the wrist or around the waist, would recognize the geometry and content of the user's immediate environment and overlay that environment with meaningful images and sounds for a specific purpose.

From the user’s point of view, he or she would apparently see and hear other people, objects, or events taking place right in front of or around them. These augmented perceptions would appear to be completely real. In technical terms, they would be rendered by the wearable computer with light shading that takes into account both the ambient and directional light sources found in the user's immediate environment.

Put simply, the augmented reality system is "projecting" people, objects, environments or other elements onto the environment around you.

In its most simple form, an augmented reality system could, for example, project a different colored carpet or wallpaper as you stroll through your house. On a slightly more advanced level, it could project memory icons and appear to place them strategically throughout your house so that, for example, you would see a certain icon (with an attached note, perhaps) as you open your front door or medicine cabinet. In practical terms, this might serve as a personal reminder to make sure you pick up something at the grocery store or remember to take medications.

But these rudimentary applications are just the beginning. The more advanced applications of augmented reality have to do with learning. Augmented reality technology holds the promise of immersing individuals in experiential learning environments. Instead of reading about the Civil War in a textbook, a student could observe battles or conversations as if they were there. Animated, lifelike historical figures would seemingly appear right in front of them. The student would see and hear events at a level unmatched by today's outmoded lecture formats.

The applications are tremendous: students could learn anatomy by walking through a human body and observing the functioning of biological systems. Students could learn geography by "flying" around the globe, visiting any city they wished, zooming in and out of detailed renderings of geopolitical regions. Students could learn chemistry by observing, at a simulated microscopic level, chemical structures and reactions. These are but a few of the many potential applications.

Interactive learning

And yet even this does not explore the full potential of augmented reality. The best application comes from allowing students (the user) to interact with projected characters. For example, a student could see, hear and actually converse with historical figures such as Albert Einstein or Charles Dickens. Projected virtual characters could become teachers and coaches who hold ongoing mentoring conversations with the student and physically demonstrate skills and activities.

This level of augmented reality requires tremendous computational power. The systems and technologies needed to accomplish this include:

Real-time vision recognition (three-dimensional geometry mapping and more)

Voice recognition

Real-time overlay display technology (built in to the wearable glasses, must cover light shading, depth of field considerations, etc.)

Sound and voice rendering, including spatial considerations

Human character rendering (covering body mechanics, adherence to physical laws, etc.)

AI (artificial intelligence) technology for understanding user speech and creating intelligent, meaningful dialog

Miniaturization advances for wearable CPUs and sensory devices

Improvements in portable power

(Interestingly, several of these areas are being pushed forward through interactive gaming technology. First person games such as Microsoft's Halo are outstanding demonstrations of real-time visual and auditory rendering technology.)

Augmented reality: a massive global industry

I predict a tremendous augmented reality industry is waiting to emerge. This industry will dwarf today's software and computing industries and become one of the most influential technological shifts yet experienced by our civilization. With this technology in place, users could simply obtain different program modules and plug them into their standard augmented reality hardware systems. Available programs would certainly include:

Educational: Personal coaches, trainers and teachers enhance the knowledge of users through demonstrations, conversations and enactments.

Entertainment: Augmented reality systems offer unprecedented opportunities for entertainment. Imagine interactive theatrical presentations, augmented multiplayer gaming, "fly-through" movies, and other similar applications.

Mental health: Virtual mental health consultants can help users face and overcome challenging situations such as conversations with relatives, public speaking, relationships with the opposite sex and many others.

Reference: A virtual reference library would allow users to physically explore areas of interest by moving through a projected knowledge set and picking out images, movies, sounds or text.

Computer / human interfaces: Augmented reality opens up a whole new world of possibilities in computer / human interfaces. There's much more on this in a later section, but consider the possibility that a computer could potentially be located anywhere in your environment. Your living room wall could be rendered as a giant 2D display, or your back yard could become a giant interlinked Internet search result set that you could explore at will.

Personal environment enrichment: Don't like your office environment? Add plants, waterfalls, and hummingbirds to your office with the "sounds of nature" software module. Is your significant other unbearably ugly? Overlay their natural face with any character you want with the "augmented people" module. Want to bring a relative back from the dead and tell them something? Plug in the "reborn relatives" module and chat with them in your living room. The possibilities are endless.

Hopefully, you see the potential for this sort of technology in terms of uplifting humanity. The examples I've mentioned here barely scratch the surface.

How Pervasive Will 3G Data Be In The United States?

Business/laptop users will be the first on these [3G] networks, but the real boost in ARPU [average revenue per unit] will come when consumers are hooked on high-speed wireless. That will take cool handheld devices (which are becoming available), and some really great applications. I also think that over time it will require networks to build out high-speed services over a much broader area. Once customers are accustomed to having high-speed wireless data available, falling back to a slower connection is not very appealing.

It boils down to economics, of course. High-speed data will be installed and turned on where there are customers who will make use of it. So I believe that for the next year or eighteen months we will see the high-speed networks being built where there is high demand. Over time, these services will be spreading out across networks. Will it ever reach the point where we will have high-speed data services wherever we have voice? I certainly hope so, but the economics have to be in place first -- which means that we must make broadband wireless data services a must-have for millions of wireless customers.

We will NOT do that by offering browsers in a small handheld device so folks can access the Internet. We will accomplish that by introducing a new set of applications that require high-speed connections: business applications, multiplayer games, and other applications that make it easier to obtain an answer or information via a data connection than via a voice connection.

I am bullish on high-speed data services. I love using EV-DO where it is available and I hate having to fall back to the slower but more ubiquitous 1X network or EDGE. I hope that we can offer the devices and applications to make high-speed data a MUST for customers because the more customers there are, the more of the networks will be enabled with high-speed data.

It is not enough that network operators are deploying high-speed data. They need to work on bringing compelling devices and applications into their stores, training their sales people, and making sure the WOW factor is really there.

Andrew M. Seybold

Wow! That's fast TCP!

Data has been sent across a wide-area optical network at 101Gbit/sec., the fastest-ever sustained data transmission speed.

It was demonstrated by a High Energy Physics research team that included the California Institute of Technology, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratories (FNAL). The 101Gbit/sec. transmission from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles lasted several minutes as part of a 90-minute test and won the Supercomputing Bandwidth Challenge, intended to help increase network transmission speeds for grid computing such as CERN's Large Hadron Collider project.

The team set a new world record aggregate bandwidth peak of 101.13Gbit/sec., far in excess of the 2003 record of 23.21Gbit/sec., and beating the nearest contender by more than 300%.

The research team's "High-Speed TeraByte Transfers for Physics" record data transfer speed -- 12.6 Gbit/sec. or 4.6TB an hour -- is equivalent to downloading three full DVD movies per second, or transmitting all of the content of the Library of Congress in 15 minutes.

The sending and receiving servers were Sun Microsystem's Fire V20z servers, based on the AMD Opteron processor, running Solaris 10 and Linux. SLAC was able to completely fill a 10Gbit/sec. transcontinental network path for a sustained time with standard 1,500B packets, and the team achieved more than 15Gbit/sec. (9.43Gbit/sec .in one direction and 5.65Gbit/sec in the other simultaneously) on a single 10Gbit/sec. wavelength path.

The key was to use a Fast TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), developed by Professor Steven Low and his Caltech Netlab team. This prevents buffer overflow and packet-dropping better than the standard TCP method, which counts packet drops as a congestion measure.

Glenn Weinberg, vice president, operating platform group at Sun, said, "Blistering TCP/IP network performance with Solaris 10 allowed this collaborative effort ... to blow away previous records."

Future optical networks, incorporating multiple 10Gbit/sec. links, are expected to be the foundation of grid computing systems. A hybrid network integrating both traditional switching and routing of packets, and dynamically constructed optical paths to support the largest data flows, is a central part of the near-term future vision that the scientific community has adopted to meet the challenges of data intensive activities.

By demonstrating that many 10Gbit/sec. wavelengths can be used efficiently over continental and transoceanic distances (often in both directions simultaneously), the High Energy Physics team showed that this vision of a worldwide dynamic grid supporting many-terabyte and larger data transactions is practical.

It also means that SANs will be able to accommodate remote components as if they were local. It will also strengthen moves to storage consolidation as remote access will be as fast as local access.

NTU designs Vietnam's first virtual reality laboratory

Nanyang Technological University's School of Computer Engineering is helping to design Vietnam's first virtual reality laboratory. The laboratory will be based at the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology's Institute of Information Technology, which is a national research institute of Vietnam.

A team of 10 Nanyang Technological University (NTU) professors and researchers has been working with the Institute of Information Technology (IOIT) since January 2004 to design and set up the laboratory. NTU will continue to have a role in the laboratory even after it is opened in April 2005 as it would still be providing human resource training and technical support to the IOIT.

Dr Le Hai Khoi, the Director of IOIT, says that the IOIT Virtual Reality Laboratory is part of Vietnam's National Key Lab on Network Technology and Multimedia, and represents a major thrust for Vietnam in IT research. Says Dr Le, "We are impressed with NTU's reputation for and expertise in virtual reality and augmented virtual reality, and more so with their willingness to share their expertise."

The IOIT Virtual Reality Laboratory will be equipped with VR technology and applications that are designed by the NTU team. Equipped with such capabilities, the laboratory will also be able to employ virtual reality as a tool for teaching and education.

Los Alamos quantum cryptography team is co-winner of prestigious European research prize

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Dec. 7, 2004 -- Los Alamos researchers and other members of a multi-nation collaboration that is developing a revolutionary technology for information security have captured half of the European Union's Descartes Prize for Research.

Los Alamos' quantum cryptography team and six other institutions in the Information Society Technologies (IST) QuComm collaboration received the prize for their project to build a secure global communication system using particles of light.

Quantum cryptography makes a more secure global infrastructure possible by enabling two parties to encode a secret key with single photons so they can communicate much more securely than with other cryptographic techniques. Once the quantum key is encoded through polarization, any attempt by a third party to eavesdrop on the communications is easily detected. Among potential applications for quantum cryptography include nearly all forms of electronic communications, and electronic banking and voting.

"The idea behind our collaboration was to take quantum encryption out of the laboratory and show that that you can do something useful with it," said Richard Hughes of Los Alamos' Physics Division, who leads the Laboratory's quantum cryptography projects.

"These days the ability to ensure privacy is immensely important, and obviously the jury thought that our work was significant for business, government and eventually for the average computer user," Hughes said. "The prize is awarded specifically for things that will have a major impact on improving society, so we were very pleased to win competing against projects in the biosciences, nanotechnology, chemistry and other equally important fields."

Progress in quantum cryptography and related areas has been rapid in recent years. A key breakthrough came two years ago, when Los Alamos researchers sent an encrypted quantum key nearly six miles from the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center to the Pajarito Ski Area, still the only demonstration of quantum key distribution through the atmosphere in daylight.

Last year, IST-QuComm physicists at the University of Vienna succeeded in sending encrypted photons more than one-third of a mile across the river Danube, while a group at the University of Geneva recently demonstrated quantum teleportation at wavelengths used in telecommunications through a 2-1/2 mile fiber-optic cable. The IST-QuComm consortium also performed the first-ever bank transfer guaranteed by quantum technologies over a 3.7-mile fiber-optic cable in Vienna this summer. Four years ago, the Los Alamos team made headlines when it sent encrypted photons through 30 miles of fiber-optic cable across the Laboratory grounds.

Two of my favorite things -- wine, and Microvision products...together!

Intelliscanner Wine Collector

The revolutionary new Wine Collector makes organzing your wine collection easy -- just scan the retail barcode on the label to automatically identify the name, varietal, winery, country, type, color, region, and more. With all the hardware and software you need in one box for automatic wine collection management, keeping track has never been easier.

Wine Collector uses both barcode data and an integrated, Internet-enabled database to obtain detailed product information about your wine. Available with either corded USB or Bluetooth® wireless technology, you can scan bottles of wine at your convenience, then AutoFill the details to quickly organize your collection.

Keep track of wine maturity and location -- automatically.

Wine Collector includes a comprehensive wine management application that makes it easy to track wine bottles as they mature, build lists with custom criteria, print customized reports, search for specific information, and share your collection information with others via the Internet. Add reviews, tasting notes, bottle locations -- even label artwork. Wine Collector's integrated maturity indicators keep you informed as each bottle reaches its peak, with optimal drinking times and color indicators.
Thanks to bzprof2002.

Rolling Out the WiMAX

A wireless sector development to watch closely is the implementation of WiMAX technology, scheduled for interoperability testing with broad implementation expected by the end of 2005. WiMAX is a licensed networking technology that provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. WiMAX can be used in a diverse arsenal of applications, including "last mile" broadband connections, hotspot and cellular backhaul, and high-speed enterprise connectivity for businesses.

Anticipating the impact of the evolving WiMAX technology, the Lumera Corporation will very shortly be introducing their complementary device, a beam forming smart antenna, which can adapt to changing data transmission environments and maximize data communication capacity and quality. This is the first smart antenna to integrate specifically into customer premise equipment. Lumera expects to have their antennas available in early 2005, said Dan Lykken, VP of sales and marketing with Lumera.

Once WIMAX usage becomes more standard, base stations will be deployed, which will necessitate end user reception by either terminals or customer premise equipment. “Although the average range is typically good,” said Lykken, “our smart antenna is designed for longer ranges. What we are hearing from some WiMAX market participants is that a dipole antenna will work up to a distance of 1 – 2 miles, depending on conditions. In contrast, we expect our smart antenna will work for up to 7 miles for rural applications and those needing more range.”

Through its beam forming technology, Lumera’s smart antenna will maximize received energy from the base station by flexibly forming the beam in the proper direction. This eliminates the need for a dish to be positioned with minute accuracy in order to pick up a signal, making deployment much easier than it is now. WiMAX providers are seeking smart antennas so they do not have to ‘roll out truck’ to complete an install thereby reducing costs for business and end users.

Lykken expects that the WiMAX platform will first introduce fixed portable broadband, and, eventually, could offer a fully mobile solution. “Our product is designed for the enterprise portable broadband market, where the antenna will configure itself in the optimum way to communicate with the tower. In addition to WiMAX, when deployed with an access point in the enterprise, it is suitable for MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) applications. “We have been speaking to a number of industry participants about IP data and with broadband IP we expect multiple user applications to be extended to voice and video. Some of our partners want to roll this technology out to provide video for developing countries where they hope to beam video for the last mile. Think of it as ‘broadband on demand’,” said Lykken.

The Smart Antenna in Defense

In addition to the many business and personal communications uses, the smart antenna could also be deployed to benefit the Homeland Defense sector.

In its defense strategy against biological and chemical attacks, the US has established the Project Bioshield Act of 2004, which utilizes a network of environmental sensors to detect biological weapons attacks against major cities in the United States. Biodetectors (which are expected to be introduced soon in many major American cities) collect samples, conduct tests right on location, and send the results to the lab wirelessly.

“One of the benefits that our product presents,” said Lumera’s Lykken, “is that in this scenario smart antenna technology could be deployed. Rather than utilizing a number of fixed antennas pointing at bio-sensors, you could have a smart antenna with beam scanning technology that could scan multiple sensors at once.”

The future of everyday life in 2010

Ian Pearson, Futurologist

Where appropriate, images can be displayed on imaginary screens floating in space. Users would simply wear lightweight glasses with projectors built into each arm [um, close enough! -- Ed.] and semi-reflective lens to give full 3 dimensional pictures. Active contact lenses that use laser beams drawing pictures straight onto the wearer's retinas would be in late stages of development by 2010. We could expect to have robocop style information in our field of view, overlaid on the real world. Finding somewhere will mean following the arrow floating in front of you. Satellite positioning and navigation will do all the hard work. Later still, we will see video relayed to computers that recognise people in our field of view, telling us who they are and a little about them if we want. The embarrassment of forgetting someone's name or where you met them will be history.

This will all be available at affordable prices, since computer power will continue to grow rapidly for decades yet. Already, powerful computers are readily available for less than an average television. By 2010, they will be as easy to use as they are cheap. Information technology will be truly ubiquitous.

Network based life will affect home too. A selection of screens hanging on walls may display works of art, static or moving. Or they may act as virtual fish tanks, or virtual windows looking out onto a Bahamas beach. Or you may have a cup of coffee with a distant friend, with life sized video images.

Entertainment might use the same electronic glasses that we use for work, [which] could also be full 3D if we want. We could have computer games that give us the equivalent of the Star Trek holodeck. Instead of watching a television travel programme from the couch, you could experience being shown round the destination as if you were there, wandering off on your own if you prefer. Some of the people we see in these places may not be people at all, but computer programmes. Our interpreter may be just a programme, but dressed to look like an attractive person just for fun.

You will make new friends in these places, introduced to you by the computer according to your personality. We may have more friends in far off countries than we have at home. With computers pretending to be people and people pretending to be someone else, relationships in the networked world will be risky and confusing, but certainly not dull.

Of course, seeing all these people and places on screens will not be enough, even if the images are realistic, immersive and 3D. Sometimes we will still want to go places for real, and as we will meet far more people and see far more exciting places, we may want to travel even more than today. Technology around us will be able to organise the trip, the flights and tell us when to do what. Travel will become less stressful as the computers take care of the administration.

We have experienced a lot of change over the last few years, but all the signs are that change is accelerating. The future looks exciting indeed and if we choose, the new technologies can make our world a much better place, with a higher quality of life for all.

Wireless network smashes world speed record

A new world record has been set for transmitting data across a wireless network, claim researchers in Germany.

A team at Siemens Communications research laboratory in Munich, have transmitted one gigabit (one billion bits) of data per second across their mobile network. By contrast, the average wireless computer network can send only around 50 megabits (50 million bits) of data per second.

The researchers used three transmitting and four receiving antennas and a technique for boosting the amount of data that can be sent wirelessly, called Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM), to set their record.

"With our experimental system, we've been able to demonstrate how powerful [multiple] antennas can be in combination with OFDM," says Christoph Caselitz, president of the Mobile Networks Division at Siemens Communications. Caselitz estimates that wireless networks will be expected to cope with 10 times as much data by 2015.

Avoiding interference

"Future mobile communications systems will have to utilise the frequency band as efficiently as possible," Caselitz adds. This means using the lowest possible transmit power to keep phone devices from running down, he explains.

Frequency-division multiplexing involves simultaneously sending multiple signals over different frequencies between two points. The technique can be prone to interference between different signals.

But OFDM splits carrier signals into smaller sub-units which are synchronised to reduce interference. The technique has already been implemented in some wireless computer networks and digital television broadcasting systems.

Recombining smaller signals in real time, however, requires considerable computing power. So the Siemens team developed new computer algorithms in order to send more data using existing hardware.

The speedy OFDM network was developed in cooperation with the Heinrich Hertz Institute and the Institute for Applied Radio System Technology, both in Germany. It will be demonstrated at the 3GSM World Congress in February, 2005.

The compact disc as we know it was first sold in the US in 1983, over 20 years ago. And after all that time, the same old 74 minute, 16-bit, 44.1 khz sampling rate CD is still the most popular method of music delivery around the world. The competing Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio formats came out a couple of years ago and offered dramatically higher sound quality. I heard 'Dark Side of the Moon' on SA-CD and was floored. But, both formats are going nowhere fast.

This is because the powers that be are coming to the conclusion that it will be more profitable to distribute music files instead of packaged music. There's no box, no printing, no shipping, no manufacturing. The same thing is happening to DVDs. Video rental stores are dinosaur businesses. Now, the only reason that NetFlix, and music and video stores still exist is because there's not enough bandwidth available to deliver the amount of data encoded on a CD or DVD in an acceptable amount of time.

Since MP3s sound 'close enough' to what people are used to, can be downloaded in less than a minute, and stored in massive quantities on computer hard disks, they've proliferated as the initial format of choice for digital music distribution. But, they leave a lot to be desired, from this audiophile's point of view.

Now, imagine that it's a few years out, and there's just miles of bandwidth. Enough to download a full CD of high-quality audio in seconds, and store thousands of them on a hard disk, whether they're stored on your own PC or some servers you access via subscription. Enough bandwidth that any movie or TV show you ever wanted to see can be brought up and played at the press of a button. With the popularity of Tivo, 'Video On Demand' cable services, and the iPod, this scenario is already taking place, in a crude nascent form.

This is a pretty easy scenario to imagine. More bandwidth, more media consumption, fewer physical artifacts like spinning optical disks to collect and store. No surprises here.

It just goes to show you that people pretty easily accept paradigm shifts in their use of and relationship with technology -- it's the corporations that have trouble. Look at the Recording Industry suing 12 year old girls for downloading a Britney Spears single off of Napster. Now that's just low. Instead of immediately identifying the opportunity created by digital music file distribution, they clinged to their existing business model and fought tooth and nail to hurt consumers and protect what they see as their best interests.

So worldwide we have consumers that readily adopt new technology that can make their lives easier, more fun or more productive -- irrespective of the degree of change in usage behavior that's required. Files on a hard disk vs. CDs stored on a shelf represents a huge change. But it doesn't feel like much of a big deal from the consumer's point of view, because it's faster, cheaper and more convenient.

So when wearable displays become available to consumers, it's fair to assume that they will be adopted on a massive scale, despite the degree of change they represent in consumer behavior. Just like the guy on ZDNet said in his blog entry, "Now, imagine continuous, large-screen, wireless access to e-mail, IM, your files and Google--from a professional perspective, you'd be unstoppable."

New user-interface metaphors will need to be invented -- the 'desktop' with its folders and file cabinets is hopelessly antiquated and inadequate to provide meaningful interaction for users in a pervasive, wireless computing environment.

All this is to say that no matter how big a shift is required in the behavior of consumers, they will readily take up new technologies that make their lives easier and better. Over the next few years, wearable displays and augmented reality software will seem to come out of nowhere and will quickly reach mass adoption. Constant connectivity and internet availability will augment our capabilities as people and effectively make us more intelligent (or at least give us a whole lot more information!). There isn't a lot of resistance to change. Having leading edge technological capabilities is a status symbol.

Looking a few years further out, there will be some interesting implications of this tendency among people to quickly, and in massive numbers, bring new technologies into their lives. I'll share my thoughts on these implications in another post to come soon.

The Money Show Digest by Steven Halpern

"The booming video-game business has finally gone wireless and there is a new crop of players taking the helm," says wireless industry expert Nikhil Hutheesing.

"The market for mobile gaming is just beginning to take off and it stands to become huge. As high speed, third generation networks are deployed and new multimedia handsets come onto the market, demand is going to surge. Wireless gaming revenue could more than double to $203.8 million this year. By 2009, wireless games are expected to generate $1.8 billion annually and worldwide revenue will reach $9 billion. Fueling all this will be not just multiplayer games, which will quickly become commonplace, but demand for 3-D graphics and even location-based games.

"The mobile gaming market is also at an inflection point. Currently, ringtones are the drivers of the mobile entertainment marketplace, but I believe that will change and that carriers will increasingly demand more advanced applications, such as games to increase their average revenue per user. The cell phone gaming business could become the biggest aspect of the video game business because many more people own and use cell phones than own game consoles or gaming PCs."

IT for the paperless MRO environment (PDF)

The Nomad Expert Technician System

We now switch our attention from system-wide IT solutions to a specific tool that can help make paperless MRO operation a reality. In January 2004, Microvision (a Bothell, WA based company) launched the Nomad Expert Technician System, a wireless wearable computer with a headworn, head-up display. By allowing technicians to superimpose text and diagrams from electronic service manuals directly over their workspace, the Nomad Expert Technician System is intended to help them stay focused on their task and perform diagnostic and repair work faster and more accurately. Weighing only 4.5 ounces, the Nomad head-worn Display Module delivers high contrast, highresolution (SVGA) transparent images that can be overlaid on the user’s vision. The unit can either be mounted under the brim of a cap or integrated into a headband.

The Nomad Expert Technician System includes a fully integrated wireless (802.11b) Windows CE.Net ‘thin client’ computer, enabling it to be connected to an existing computer terminal or remote server to access web-based content via the included Internet Explorer browser. The user controls input and navigation through a touch pad and keypad on the belt-mounted Nomad Control Module.

“Our technology allows us to be daylight-readable and see-through,” says Bruce Westcoat, Microvision’s marketing manager for defence and aviation. “This device automatically adjusts to the bright sunlight, and we can control and modulate that light source and put plenty of brightness in the image right at the eye. Competing technologies such as AML CDs or LEDs can’t get that bright image to the eye in a see-through format: because of the technology, it washes out in the sunlight, or they have to occlude the image which means you can no longer see through it.”

The Nomad Expert Technician System was originally developed for the automotive industry, with Honda as its launch customer. “They’ve done field trials that resulted in a 40 per cent increase in productivity,” says Wescoat, “and the reason for that increase is, [previously] a lot of the technicians were having to stop what they were doing, go to a terminal, pull out the manual, go back to their vehicle, try and relate it to the vehicle, maybe forget a couple of the parameters... This resulted in a 40 per cent improvement [for that reason].”

The FAA has deemed the product a secondary flight instrument not requiring certification, and Microvision is now hoping to establish it in the commercial aerospace arena. “We’ve been quite extensive testing with one of the major turbine engine manufacturers,” says Westcoat. “We have talked to airframers — of course, we’re near Seattle, which is home to one of the world’s major airframers; they’re extremely interested — but I think our best entry point right now is the engine side, and I think you’re going to see, in the next [couple of] quarters, one or two announcements in that area.”
Thanks to rrknowsmore.

Nerd fashion dilemma

Microvision has built a laser HUD (heads-up display), a lightweight unit that fits above your brow and projects a see-through monochrome image onto your retina using a very, very, very low-power red laser. (Full color will have to wait for cheap green and blue lasers.) Microvision sells it as part of a system designed to superimpose schematic diagrams over machinery that's being worked on by a mechanic.

So what?

I admit that I'm not secure enough to adopt this device--I'd need to see Tom Cruise (or at least Tom Arnold) wearing one before I took the plunge--and it weighs in at $4,000, which is a bit outside my range. But cell phones were exotic and expensive when they came out, too. Then it emerged that they conferred a distinct advantage in your business--and personal life--so the rest of us dived in and penetration increased as prices plummeted.

Now, imagine continuous, large-screen (this is important--cell phone screens are fatally cramped for most applications), wireless access to e-mail, IM, your files and Google--from a professional perspective, you d be unstoppable. If someone comes up with a cheap, tiny, high-resolution version of the laser HUD--perhaps integrated with a Bluetooth headset and Blackberry-style keypad--I predict a pretty dramatic take-up, even if it does make you look like Wonder Geek. You heard it here first.--Ed Gottsman
Well, we didn't hear it there first, but a great post all the same.

Head-up displays get second glance

PARK RIDGE, Ill. — The emergence of bright, multicolor light-emitting diodes (LEDs), combined with breakthroughs in windshield optics, is laying the groundwork for a new generation of head-up automotive displays that carmakers and suppliers said will enhance safety while delivering navigational and other information to drivers.

BMW plans to roll out a multicolor head-up display (HUD) on its new 5 Series this spring, and General Motors Corp. said that HUD penetration in its flagship performance car, the Chevrolet Corvette, has climbed from 25 percent in 1999 to 90 percent today. GM said it expects to put the technology in two new vehicle platforms by the 2006 model year. BMW said it will soon launch HUDs in the 6 Series coupe and expects the technology will spread from there.

"Right now, we're launching it in upper- to medium-priced spheres, where the customers are more affluent," noted Martin Birkmann, product advocate for BMW's 5 Series.

"But later on, we expect it to trickle down into less expensive vehicles."

Suppliers said that HUD technology is spreading into other, unnamed automotive programs as well. "We know that it's going into some lower-end luxury vehicles in the 2006 time frame," said Mark Brainard, business development manager for Siemens VDO (Auburn Hills, Mich.), a maker of HUD systems. "We see this technology really taking off and becoming more embedded in the midlevel market segment later in this decade."

Indeed, besides signaling speed, like the first-generation HUDs, the new models will work in tandem with vehicular global-positioning systems to tell a driver, for example, to turn right at the next intersection. Suppliers and automakers maintain that HUDs will grow even more valuable as next-generation technologies, such as adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance, reach the market in greater numbers. There, HUDs could help save lives, they said, as the "floating displays" use red icons to warn drivers that they are coming too close to the car in front of them.

Industry observers said the time could be right for a HUD renaissance, especially as automotive instrument clusters continue to grow more complex. "The market didn't really respond to this technology when it first came out," noted David Cole, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research (Ann Arbor, Mich.). "But it's not unusual for a technology to creep in, go away for awhile, and then come back as a more mature product. That's what happened to the airbag in the 1970s and '80s."

Both BMW and General Motors are also incorporating navigation information onto the HUD, enabling vehicles to display directions without ever requiring drivers to take their eyes off the road.

"First and foremost, we want this technology to enhance safety," said Brainard of Siemens. "With more and more information overload on drivers, it's going to be more important to reduce the driver's 'glance time.' "

For that reason, GM, which already has HUDs on nine different models, is hoping that success in competing platforms will bolster its own effort. "We want to see BMW pick it up and do a good job with it," Stringfellow said. "If they do, they're going to help to spread the technology."
Thanks to Sturocks.

Airlines Spending Money on IT

Airlines are willing to spend money to increase productivity and cut costs if the payback period is quick. Real quick. Software suppliers understand this and are creating solutions that can be as broad or as narrow as operators choose. So while airlines are renegotiating labor agreements and aircraft leases to quell costs, they are planning to invest in information technology to help myriad operational quandaries.

Between April 2003 and June of this year, Delta made a major investment in web-based delivery of technical manuals via the company's intranet site. The new system, known as Flightline, supplied by InfoTrust of Lafayette, Colo., hosts 70 maintenance manuals and illustrated parts catalogs covering all aircraft and engines in Delta's fleet. Preliminary planning to make the manuals available on hand-held devices via wireless transmission now is going forward, and will be presented to Delta's management in 2005 for approval.

As Lane said, hand-held devices will allow the technicians to access manuals at their work sites, including base facilities, back shops or on the line. "A (line service) technician may have to leave the airplane and walk three to four gates away to access the maintenance data," he said. "Using a hand-held device, he won't have to leave the side of the airplane."

..."This will be particularly beneficial for line maintenance at the hangar and at airports where the mechanics mostly work out on the ramp and gate areas," said Clark. "The technology we buy for this will then interface with our existing data system.

...Hopkins emphasized that this is but one of numerous major IT initiatives American currently is pursuing. "Mechanics will be able to access all data pertaining to the aircraft, troubleshoot any problems, determine the solution, look up the parts needed, and sign off on the paperwork without having to leave the side of the airplane," he said.

Pemco Aviation Group of Birmingham, Ala., has seen a substantial reduction in overhead with the implementation of a wireless IT system, interfaced by hand-held devices. "It has been especially valuable for non-routine maintenance problems that we find during the inspection process about 50% of the time," said Steve Miller, the company's vice president and corporate controller.

John Snow, Enigma vice president, marketing and business development, agreed with Miller that IT investments must enable significant productivity improvements. Snow said mechanics can spend as much as 40% of their time away from an aircraft undergoing repair to access information at multiple locations. "Our job is to reduce that amount of time by providing a single source of information about the aircraft which can be accessed by keying in a tail number without having to leave the job site," he said.
Thanks to R.

Real world gaming with a GPS-capable mobile phone

Glofun Homepage

December 6, 2004 The growing utilisation of GPS technology in mobile phones has spawned an interesting new form of real-world interaction with with the announcement of the "RayGun" a fast-paced location game from Glofun. RayGun combines the mental intensity of a video game with the physical intensity of a sport, where the real world serves as the game board.

Making Fun of GPS

In order to "make a move" in location-based games, the player must move in the real world. Most location-based games make use of relatively low-precision location data derived solely from cellular technology. As a consequence, their real-world play spaces are large (typically an entire city), and the players' movements must be correspondingly large (typically a city block or more). The large scale of such games means that they are relatively slow-playing. RayGun makes the most of the handset's GPS, tracking the player's location, bearing, and velocity precisely and rapidly - throughout the game - which increases a game's mental and physical intensity: The physical area of the game can be reduced to a more human scale and played entirely within an area the size of a soccer field, or even a suburban backyard. Smaller scale translates into faster game play because players' moves are measured in seconds rather than minutes, creating an immediacy that's not possible with yesterday's location technology.

How to Play

A mobile phone loaded with RayGun software emits "spectral" energy that lets you attract and track ghosts. Unfortunately, the energy also annoys the ghosts, so you'd better "ionize" them before they get to you. To aim the raygun at a ghost, you move toward it. Moving quickly increases the raygun's range. You can adjust your beam to long and narrow (good for zapping ghosts while they're still far away) or short and wide (good for zapping them when they're closing in on you). The longer you play, the more ghosts you attract, and the faster you have to move to stay ahead.

The future of GPS locator games

The RayGun GPS location game follows on the heels of similar prototypes for "augmented reality" games like "Human Pac-Man" that involve GPS and mobile phones for real-virtual gaming interaction. Other GPS based real-world games are gaining in popularity, including "Geo-caching" and "Geo-Dashing" that reinvent the concept of the scavenger hunt with digital technology, and "Swordfish" from Blister Entertainment. Analysts at Frost & Sullivan predict that the mobile gaming market will jump to almost $7 billion in 2006. IDC expects the number of wireless gamers to grow from 7.9% of all U.S. wireless subscribers in 2003 to 34.7%, or 65.2 million users, by 2008.

RayGun currently runs on the Nextel i710 and i730 handsets and is expected to be released early in 2005.

American Honda Motor Company To Deploy Nomad in its U.S. Based Training Centers

Approximately 1,500 to 1,800 Honda service technicians are trained annually in 12 U.S. training centers

BOTHELL, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 7, 2004-- Microvision Inc. (Nasdaq:MVIS - News) announced today that American Honda Motor Company has ordered 14 Nomad Expert Technician Systems to be deployed in its 12 U.S. training centers. The centers provide training for service technicians with a wide range of skills, from entry level technicians to experienced technicians needing to keep current with repair procedures.

"We are very pleased with Honda's decision to install the Nomad System within their training facilities," said Tom Sanko, Microvision's VP of Marketing. "These facilities support the required training of technicians from Honda and Acura dealerships throughout North America. Nearly 2,000 technicians each year will be exposed to the Nomad system during their training and will experience first hand the value of hands-free access and the system's compact package and ease of operation. Establishing a presence in automotive training centers, like our Reference Account program, is part of our strategy to broaden market awareness and promote familiarity with the Nomad system."

American Honda Motor Company has a car and light truck U.S. market share of 7% with over 1,300 Honda and Acura dealerships, about 18,000 technicians, and an additional 50,000 technicians at independent repair shops across the country. Since service technicians are paid by the jobs they perform, Microvision believes that many of these technicians will want to own or lease the Nomad system to increase individual earnings potential.

Post #36627 by View From Afar

What's particularly bizarre is that so many of these so called experts have invariably come across Microvision at various times (probably more than once) in their travels, by way of industry reports and lectures by Kurzweil and others, yet still the implications of RSD do not sink in. While some have undoubtedly tried out RSD microdisplay prototypes, most haven't and remain prisoners of the 'small screen' paradigm. Thus, they don't see what's staring them straight in the face, and won't until big companies like Canon come out of deep stealth. Then, BANG, it will hit them all, all at once. The result: a stampede.

It's a mindset really: the ingrained notion of looking 'at' things. To me, RSD is more akin to looking 'through' things. I always think of Microvision’s RSD microdisplay in terms of a keyhole or a knot hole in a wooden fence. At first glance, it's just a hole. But as you get closer, you can see there's something on the other side. When you get your eye right up to the hole, it's almost like you've stepped through the door or fence, finding yourself fully immersed in what's happening on the other side.

In this regard, patents describing increases in exit pupil size and fields of view make more sense. The ‘keyhole’ or ‘knot hole’ gets bigger and bigger; the fence or door gets thinner and thinner, permitting wider and wider viewing angles. The result: the viewer sees the whole image from further and further away.

I foresee a time where these capabilities combined with powerful light sources and advanced optics permit a multi-faceted crystalline device the size of a golf ball to sit on a coffee table allowing an effectively unlimited number of people anywhere in the room to see the same image just by looking at the crystal, even from a distance away. To see what I mean, hold a piece of crystal up to your eye while watching television and count the number of screens you see. Now think of it in reverse, i.e., where the image generator is inside the crystal, with each facet projecting the image out to a slice of the room.

Such a ‘television’ would be revolutionary not just technologically, but in other more subtle ways, for example, how we arrange our living rooms. I have two types of friends: those who entertain in a room with a television and those who entertain in a room without a television. Each presents a trade off. In the former, the room tends to be set up like a movie theatre, discouraging conversation in favour of viewing even when there is nothing worth viewing. In the other, the chairs tend to face each other, encouraging interaction, but often at the expense of doing so while sharing a common visual experience – an archetypical human activity. Sitting around a campfire is an example of the latter.

By placing images ‘in the eye of the beholder’ instead of a fixed point in space, Microvision’s technology has the capacity to resolve many trade offs and bottlenecks we assume exist as an unavoidable consequence of reality. In truth however, it is often our view of reality that creates the bottleneck or trade off. Change that view, create a new reality. Some longs understand this. Most experts do not.

In response to Post 36514 by Kaniksu3

From an article in SKY Magazine, the in-flight mag of Delta Air Lines. It is an article about 3G and whether or not people will use it since the display experience is so limited....

"Of course, it could be convincingly argued that European consumers are very different from those in the United States. But what troubles analysts is that 3G SPs are fixated on the paradigm of the PC. As more people got broadband access at work and home, use of the Internet exploded. Phone companies hope the same model will apply to cell phones. What they need to think about, analysts say, is that an information system that worked fine on a 19-inch personal computer screen may not be quite as captivating on a 3-ounce cell phone with a 2-inch screen.

“On the one hand, you can say it’s great to have all this speed,” says Ken Dulaney, an analyst at the Gartner research firm. “But as I look at what’s going on in mobile, I say, ‘What are we going to do with it?’”

For Dulaney, speed is not the answer. “[The SPs] think that the introduction of more speed will fix all the problems,” he says. “What they continue to do is take the PC paradigm of the browser and shrink it down onto a little tiny screen. And frankly, users don’t find it compelling.”

Bingo! Microvision's scanned beam tech will enable an entire industry. It's just a matter of time....tick, tick, tick....sleep well longs.


Pure Silicon Laser Debuts

Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles have made a prototype laser from the stuff of computer chips -- silicon. The laser is tunable, meaning it can lase in a range of wavelengths, or colors, and it works at room temperature.

The silicon laser could be used to provide optical wireless communications at a wavelength that is optimal for transmission through air and even fog, to detect chemicals and biological molecules, and to provide an infrared countermeasure capable of jamming heat-seeking missiles, according to the researchers.

The device promises to be compatible with today's silicon manufacturing processes because it amplifies light using the natural atomic vibrations of silicon rather than a mix of materials or a particular nanoscale physical structure. This makes silicon lasers potentially inexpensive.

A laser, short for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, energizes matter. When an atom absorbs energy its electrons move to higher energy levels.

Ordinarily silicon makes a poor laser medium because when its electrons drop to a lower energy level more energy is channeled into the material as vibrations or heat than is emitted as light. The researchers got around this problem using the Raman effect.

When photons strike atoms, many are absorbed and some scatter. The scattered photons gain or lose energy depending on whether the atoms they struck are in a high or low energy state. The energy change causes the photons' wavelength to shift.

When a powerful enough laser strikes a material, the scattered photons induce lasing at the Raman-shifted wavelength. Raman lasers made from glass optical fiber are common. The researchers found that the Raman effect is 10,000 times stronger in silicon than in optical fiber.

A practical silicon Raman laser could be ready in two years. The work appeared in the October 18, 2004 issue of Optics Express.

U.S. Army Reserve to Use Commercial Nomad Systems to Help Meet Readiness Requirements

Orders 37 Nomad Systems for Initial Fielding

BOTHELL, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 6, 2004--Microvision Inc. (Nasdaq:MVIS - News) today announced the U.S. Army Reserve has purchased 37 units of the commercial Nomad Expert Technician System for immediate fielding in U.S. based Army Reserve maintenance facilities. The system implementation is planned to take place in over 10 locations and has the potential to lead to follow-on orders.

"The Army's interest in our commercial off the shelf (COTS) Nomad Expert Technician System is a result of our automotive maintenance studies showing productivity improvements as high as 40% and product demonstrations at military maintenance facilities," said Tom Sanko, Microvision's V.P. of Marketing. "The recent move in all branches of the military to digitize maintenance manuals makes it possible for the Nomad System to now support the defense maintenance, repair and equipment overhaul sector at a time when personnel resources are scarce due to pressures from overseas operations."

The U.S. Department of Defense estimates there are 700,000 military and civilian personnel involved in defense maintenance activities. "Microvision believes these personnel can benefit from the same type of increased productivity, improved repair quality and mobile information currently being experienced by service technicians in the automotive sector," said Sanko. "The efficiency gains provided by the Nomad Expert Technician System with its wireless, head-up, hands-free access to information should help shorthanded Army maintenance facilities meet wartime readiness requirements.

"This purchase by the U.S. Army Reserve of the commercial Nomad solution for maintenance applications is a second major defense related milestone for Microvision. The first milestone was the fielding of a military version of the Nomad as a helmet mounted display by the Stryker Brigade to provide improved situational awareness capabilities to vehicle commanders on the battlefield in Iraq. We look forward to the opportunity to provide the Nomad for additional defense related uses in the near future."

I'd just like to take a moment to thank all the readers of MVIS Blog for their support, encouragement and readership over this year. It's been great to hear from those folks that have written in to share their experiences or posted comments on different blog entries.

Tonight I celebrate my 20,000th page view since I started keeping track at the end of June. It's pretty awesome to have reached that many people with my little website (especially considering the advertising budget!). I hope very much that this site has been enjoyable to read and hopefully provided some insight into the the broader picture of advancing technologies and the implications for Microvision and its shareholders.

There are about a million references to Ray Kurzweil on MVIS Blog. When he says that Microvision devices will be in widespread consumer use by 2009 in his book The Age of Spiritual Machines, I take him at face value.

There's just about 4 years between now and the start of 2009. A little over 200 weeks. Around 1000 trading days.

I don't think MVIS Blog will still be updating by then. But hopefully some folks will look back on it using their imagic glasses and think 'hey, that guy saw it all coming beforehand'. Me, and all you guys too.

Here's to an overnight sensation that's been years in the making.



Playboy's cell phone centerfolds

Giving new meaning to the term “phone sex,” Playboy Enterprises Inc. announced that it will be distributing adult-oriented content via wireless phones throughout the U.S.

Working with Dwango Wireless, a mobile-phone content developer, Playboy plans to make content available on-demand to 170 million North American wireless subscribers. Cell phone users will have access to Playboy-themed games, images, video clips, voice clips and ring tones as soon as “early 2005,” according to the company.

In addition to the North American market, Playboy currently offers mobile phone content in 17 other countries, including Germany and Brazil.

A recent study by the Yankee Group, a Boston-based communications research firm, predicted that mobile porn will be a $1 billion global market by 2008. Of that, $90 million will be in the U.S., a figure that would constitute just 2 percent of US spending on adult content in all media.

The idea of viewing porn on a pixilated 2-square-inch screen may seem like an odd concept, but cell phone users already get various kinds of pictorial and digital content on their phones, including TV-style news clips.

“It’s probably too early to tell how this will play,” says entertainment industry analyst Dennis McAlpine of McAlpine Associates. “There isn’t a big market for it yet, but it says that Playboy wants to be there when the demand comes.” That stands in contrast, Mr. McAlpine says, to video-on-demand. “That snuck up on them,” he says. “I don’t’ think they saw that developing.”

Terms of Playboy’s alliance with Seattle-based Dwango were not released.
This will work a lot better when the content is delivered directly to your retina and it is impossible for anyone to look over your shoulder and freeload your subscription.

Thanks to J.

The Soul Laser

I've read a whole lot of futuristic and transhumanist stuff over the last couple years. Stuff about uploading our consciousness into some supercomputer and living for a theoretical eternity as billions of little 'life emulations' running at light speed. Reconciling these notions of preserving our fundamental identity patterns forever while our physical bodies have long ago been turned to dust -- and imagining what the post-human existence as dreamed up by Kurzweil and Moravec would be like has provided me with a whole lot of ideas, that I ended up turning into a rock album called New Neural Substrate.

Whether we can truly capture our life essence as routines in a computer supposes that our true nature is purely physical -- or that our physical form embodies our spiritual selves somehow. On that philosophical note, here's an excerpt from a pretty amazing article that uses the laser as an allegory for humanity's quest to transcend mortality.

Just as a regular laser brings about a ray of coherent light, perhaps this universe is designed to bring about coherent, synchronized souls who can leap beyond the physical once they've attained the correct energy and orientation.

The reason for this physical universe may be to transform raw matter into consciousness (people), and help that consciousness become coherent "light" (awakened souls who can transcend physicality). I see strong parallels:

Lasing medium = The matrix of physical existence. The cosmos. Earth and everyone on it.

Energy pump = As time passes, everything is urged to a higher energy state by "collisions" with other things. In the strong teleological view (as found in many NDE stories), this "nudging" is precisely orchestrated for maximum effect.

Electron in the ground state = An incarnated, unawakened soul.

Electron in the pumped state = An incarnated soul raised to a higher energy state by life experiences (collisions).

Stimulated emission = Spiritual awakening, usually through contact with another awakened soul, but sometimes arising spontaneously from perfectly timed life-experience collisions.

Photon = An awakened soul, no longer bound to the incarnation.

Resonance = Awakened souls gradually being nudged into alignment with each other. "Love" describes the phase and orientation of the exit path.

Laser output = Awakened souls that have achieved the proper synchrony and alignment. They are now free to exit the physical medium and enter into a realm of coherent light.

Isn't it interesting that almost all NDE [Near Death Experience] stories describe travelling through a tunnel of light? And that only those who have learned the necessary lessons can escape a return to an Earthly life? I wonder if the realm described in NDE accounts isn't simply a universe in which organized light is the basis of existence.

A laser isn't really an amplifier, it's an oscillator. The trick lies in synchronizing the oscillations. Life is like that, too. Consciousness is all about taking the random oscillations of life and matter and synchronizing them into a desired state: a loving, compassionate frame of mind unfettered by material attachments.
There's a whole lot more very interesting stuff by this same author. See, MVIS Blog isn't always just about investing and making money...

As another way to add value for readers, I am pleased to offer these terrific wallpapers created by MVIS Blog friend, Mycomputerknows. Enjoy!

Click links for full size versions:

Nomad Girl with Wrench * Nomad Bull

Does anybody know if there are other dedicated investor resource blogs written by shareholders of public companies?

I was just thinking 'I wonder if there's an' or something similar. I poked around for a while but didn't turn any up.

It doesn't seem like the most original idea in the world so I'm sure it's being done somewhere else for some other company by some other investor. But, maybe I really am alone in the universe...

Drop me a line if you've got any ideas.


Army science conference speaker forecasts replacement of computers by 2010

By 2010, computers will be replaced by electronics so tiny they can be embedded in clothing or eyeglasses and broadcast on the human retina, a noted inventor predicted at the Army Science Conference.

Dr. Ray Kurzweil, creator of the first synthesizer, inventor of the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition machine and winner of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for invention and innovation, also foresaw the introduction of realistic 3-D holographic projection and machines that instantly translate the spoken word from one language to another.

His presentation Nov. 29 capped off the first day of the 24th Army-sponsored biennial conference, sponsored by the United States Army, to explore how transformational science is transforming our world and the Soldier fighting force. Senior Army leaders, industry experts and noted academia joined together here to build collaborative relationships and develop the technologies and capabilities that will be the hallmark of the future force.

Technological advance has incredible potential to improve the warfighting effort, Kurzweil said. New virtual technologies will reduce – and in many ways, are already reducing – the time it takes to develop new combat systems, he said.

Miniaturization, or the process of condensing more powerful technologies into smaller packages, will help the Army create more and better unmanned machines that remove Soldiers from dangerous combat situations. Some fighting will be done by remote control, Kurzweil said.

Today we have smart bombs, but tomorrow we may have smart bullets, he added.

Human knowledge of information technology, computer technology and health science is doubling annually, Kurzweil said. In nearly every area, we are experiencing exponential growth in knowledge.

This knowledge does not only have military applications; its possibilities across the spectrum of human existence are astounding, he said.

Kurzweil offered the example of genetics. It took 15 years to sequence the HIV virus, the cause of AIDS, but it took only 31 days to sequence the SARS virus. This knowledge allows scientists to explore gene suppression, a possible key to unlocking a cure for dozens of diseases, he said.

“There are new drugs… kind of like smart weapons, that zero in on specific targets with no side effects,” Kurzweil said.

Another example is the development of instantaneous language translation devices, which Kurzweil predicted will be common on cellular telephones by the end of the decade.

“Within a few years, we will be able to talk to anyone, regardless of language,” he said.

Because of the importance of technology, the threat to the military and economic dominance of the United States lies in the decline of Americans pursuing careers in fields such as engineering and natural science.

Kurzweil admitted while technology will solve many problems we face today, a utopia is not on the horizon. He concedes this development will unlock new problems we do not fully understand today.

Commissioned by Claude M. Bolton, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, the conference has two focuses: to discuss the current state of technology and how it is being used to support the Global War on Terror; and to forecast how emerging technologies will be harnessed in the future.
Thanks to HerbertNerd.

On the tech radar

Looking out 10 years, Gartner predicts that more than 30 percent of mobile workers will combine the virtual and real world using augmented reality and wearable environments such as head-up displays. Rather than accessing a separate device to glean data relevant to a specific task, relevant information-such as text, graphics and video-will be superimposed on a head-up display. For example, people performing equipment repair and medical procedures could benefit from more integrated data displays and advanced interfaces, such as voice and gesture. Advances in screen technology, including low-cost flexible screens and low-power consumption displays, will enable more rich media experiences on smaller devices.

Given current trends, Gartner's prediction that by 2010, 70 percent of the population in developed nations will spend 10 times longer per day interacting with people in the digital world than in the physical one is not surprising. Coincident with that trend, collaboration tools for enabling electronic interaction -- ranging from Wikis to sites that can identify and provide specific expertise to a group -- will take on more prominence, as will tools for monitoring and managing collaborative environments. Gartner predicts that collaboration tools for collective content creation will be available in mainstream products, resulting in more distributed decision-making.

In addition, the infrastructure for e-commerce will be transformed over the next 10 years with the availability of improved micropayment schemes and services. According to Gartner, services such as parking, taxi dispatching, security or other more granular location-based tasks will be available within micropayment environments.

All of the Gartner predictions fall within the range of reasonable and inevitable transformations that will gradually evolve into the mainstream. What is less predictable is the social impact of embedded computing, in which the entire environment of everyday objects is invested with some form of computing power and possibly intelligence. It's also likely that in the next decade computers will get much smarter, not just faster and cheaper, and understand more about content in context. PalmPilot inventor Jeff Hawkins has a book, On Intelligence, that proposes a way to create smart machines by applying principles from artificial intelligence and neural network studies. It will take a breakthrough in developing machine intelligence modeled on human brain function to make another great technology leap forward.

current cover

Microvision Inc. in Bothell, Wash., has developed a head-mountable scanned beam display system that uses 52 LEDs coupled to a two-dimensional scanning micromirror to produce high-resolution images. The resolution and illumination intensity are good enough that HDTV quality is a reasonable expectation, according to the company's Randy Sprague. The displays, with their direct-to-the-eye geometry, don't require as much intensity as that required by room projectors.

New competitive strategy: the power of a patent portfolio

Of all the strategic arrows in a company's quiver, patenting typically hasn't been considered much of a weapon.

For decades, many businesses obtained patents for unique technology, then buried them in a legal department box, to be dusted off only in cases of obvious infringement. But as intellectual property is increasingly viewed as a way to gain a competitive advantage, patent pursuit is taking on a strategic edge.

Through tactics such as staking out patents early and often, as well as expanding patent portfolios to include different types of patents, companies are strengthening their intellectual property holdings.

"There's been a switch, from companies just looking at which patent infringers to prosecute," said David Schultz, shareholder in Minneapolis-based Halleland Lewis Nilan & Johnson. "Now, they're using patents to negotiate a niche in the market."

This shift from defensive to offense patent strategy has been seen most acutely within the past five years, said Jon Garon, dean and professor of law at Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul. "As recently as 10 years ago, patents were ignored by management. Now, there's tremendous awareness that patents and other intellectual property are key corporate assets."

Patent primer

Although companies have been using patents more strategically in the past five years, in some ways, they're simply using the laws properly, Garon said. "Patent law was designed to be offensive in nature rather than defensive. It was created to encourage companies to go into the market."

"There's been a complete change in mindset in terms of these patents," he said. "People have come to see them as an important form of protection."

"Just having one patent isn't enough to stop the competition," Lasky said. "But, when you have many together, they represent a true strategy in terms of a company's direction, and it can be very powerful."

Getting strategic

Adonis Neblett, chair of the Intellectual Property Group at Minneapolis-based Fredrikson & Byron, said companies now look at how patents fit into broad strategies. "Patents give you a picket fence to shore up your technology, and make sure someone else doesn't enter your area of innovation," Neblett said. "But they also give you the opportunity to look at broader applications of what you have."

Happy Thanksgiving to all MVIS Blog readers.

Stay safe out there!

We've got a lot to look forward to.

Microtechnology: Changing the World Little by Little (PDF)

Another WTC client is Microvision, a leader in the photonics industry that is also based in Bothell, Wash. [NWS&T, Autumn 2003, p.20]. Microvision’s patented MEMS devices, in which optical surfaces and small hinges are formed on a silicon chip roughly one fourth the size of a dime, have enabled the development of a number of products with mobile display and imaging applications.

Microvision’s Nomad Augmented Vision System is able to project an image from a source, such as a computer or video camera, through the viewer’s pupil onto the retina. The image is created as the MEMS device paints as many as 30 million pixels per second onto the retina using a low-intensity light beam. In this way, the Nomad System superimposes high-contrast, high resolution images on its user’s view of the surrounding environment.

In October of 2003, the American Honda Motor Company announced plans to supply their dealers and technicians with Nomad Systems as early as 2004. Because the system can overlay automobile diagnostics and repair instructions directly on a technician’s vision, Honda believes it will increase the efficiency and accuracy of technicians performing complex repairs.

Other applications reported by Microvision for the Nomad Augmented Vision System include the positioning and alignment of surgical tools for surgeons, navigation and mapping for security personnel and military troops, and wearable displays for pilots.
Thanks to rrknowsmore.

Power Outage

We just had a power outage. For a while, the house was dark. There was no wireless Internet, no satellite TV -- nothing but candlelight. I found my acoustic guitar in the dark and started plucking out some melodies as our family sat together in the dim, flickering light.

It was like being sent back in time 150 years.

It just goes to show you that all the advances of the last few generations can be taken back just like that. We can revert to 'failure mode' pretty quickly.

We sat in the candlelight and thought, 'gee, this is kind of nice'. Just a family spending a few moments together, without all the distractions of modern life.

Then the lights kicked on, the clocks started flashing 12:00, 12:00, the fridge whirred to life. And we thought, 'thank God that's over!'

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