Archive for the 'Tech' Category
You know that impossible-to-miss NASDAQ sign on Broadway at 43rd Street in New York City? Yeah, the one that’s 11,000-square feet in size. The Walgreen Company has set out to make that look like child’s play, as it aims to erect a 250,000-pound sign at a three-level emporium in Times Square. Said display will reportedly be used to “raise [the drugstore's] visibility in New York,” while doubling as a “focal point for it nationally.” This beast will be covered in 12 million LEDs — 17,000 square feet of them, to be exact — and you can only imagine the hardware that will be required behind the scenes to keep this thing up and running. If you just can’t wait until next fall to peep this in person, head southward to the read link and dig in.
Ask yourself this: Are you a statistic or a specific example? That’s the question being raised in the aftermath of a study in which researchers secretly tracked the locations of 100,000 people to determine their movement patterns. Such studies are considered invasions of privacy — and illegal — in the United States, but this one was done in an undisclosed industrialized nation. The subjects were chosen at random out of a pool of 6 million from a mystery wireless provider and tracked based on cell tower triangulation and other “tracking devices.” Study co-author Cesar Hidalgo at Northeastern University promises that researchers didn’t know the individuals’ phone numbers or identities, and offers that the results are a major advance for science. The study found that people are homebodies — most stay within 20 miles of their home and are rather habitual. Scientists say the findings — to be published in Nature on Thursday — can help improve public transit systems and even fight contagious diseases.
It’s gone by a couple names since we first heard about it two CESs ago (Zink, Digital Instant Mobile Photo Printer, etc.) but the first Zink-based product is finally on its way to buyers as the Polaroid PoGo Instant Mobile Printer. It’ll run you $150 for the unit (and $10 per pack of 30 sheets), and can print up to fifteen 2 x 3-inch photos on its rechargeable battery from any PictBridge capable camera or over Bluetooth. PC Magazine took a peek and found each print took between a minute and a half to two minutes (the latter over Bluetooth), and felt the quality was adequate at best, albeit sufficient for such small prints. Still, it’s no secret that your options are extremely limited when it comes to pocketable printers, even of the dye-sub variety (which Zink-based devices like the PoGo hope to put out to pasture).
Oh sure, GalleryPlayer enables your HDTV to instantly turn into an art display, but it doesn’t even pretend to be anything classier than a multifaceted television. Samsung, however, is looking to change the game by partnering with Thomas Kinkade on a new 46-inch prototype Digital Masterworks Art-TV. The unit was recently showcased to news media, and it’s said to be “housed n a Thomas Kinkade frame designed to accentuate the fine art theme.” From what we can gather, it’s being aimed at folks who’d love a nice piece of art sitting above their mantel, but when the time comes, they can switch off the paintings and throw on a day’s worth of NFL in HD. The wild thing here is how important the actual art aspect is to the display, with hidden touch controls planned to enable viewers to flip through artworks and zoom in / out as they please. Heck, there’s even integrated WiFi, a 40GB hard drive, 3,000:1 contrast ratio, 8ms response time and 500 nits of brightness. The set is due out exclusively through Thomas Kinkade’s Signature Gallery later this year, with iffy plans to release it to other retailers in 2H 2009.
It looks like relative upstart Seegrid is doing its part to help robots snag a few more jobs normally reserved from us humans, with it now showing off its autonomous Industrial Mobile Robot system (or IMR), which promises to let self-navigating material handling vehicles work in environments that were previously not economically or technically feasible for them to serve. At the heart of the system is a beefed up “tugger” ordinarily used for pushing shopping carts around, which has been outfitted with four pairs of cheap CMOS cameras that are connected via plain old USB to the computer under the hood. That allows the bot to look around and build a 3D map of just about any area, which it can then follow to a tee over and over again. Head on past the break to check it out in action.
[Via Engineering TV]
Verizon has certainly courted Alltel before, but this time, the two could finally be rounding third base. According to a breaking report at CNBC, Verizon is “in deep in talks to acquire Alltel,” which of course is America’s fifth largest wireless carrier. It’s no secret that Alltel has been riding fairly high of late, and unless your memory is totally shot, you’ll likely recall that it was just recently “taken private by TPG and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners in a $27.5 billion deal.” Not surprisingly, officials at both outfits refused to comment on the rumblings, but if this does indeed go down, analysts are expecting Verizon to pay around 8x Alltel’s current EBITDA, whereas TPG / Goldman Sachs paid 9.2x. We’ll keep you posted on any developments.
Update: The talks have been confirmed by Vodafone which owns a 45% stake in VZW.
We’ve already seen a number of attempts to more seamlessly integrate solar cells into everyday environments, but none have quite gone as far as this latest prototype from the folks at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Mitsubishi, and Tokki Corp. As you can see above, they’ve come up with a solution that shouldn’t look too out of place nestled in with some actual foliage, with a special protective film encapsulating each of the solar models to ensure they stand up to the outdoors. The institute (no stranger to unique concepts) apparently isn’t stopping there, however, saying that it also has plans to expand its use of organic thin-film solar cells into other areas where design is important, including walls, windows, clothing, and livingware, to name but a few.
Putting cameras in billboards to measure how many people look at them isn’t a new idea, but it’s starting to get a little more creepily-high-tech, with several advertisers now using facial-recognition software to record things like age and gender. A company called Quividi has supplied camera-equipped ads to McDonald’s in Singapore and Ikea in Europe, and it’s now bringing the tech to the States, where it’s been deployed in New York in ads for A&E’s The Andromeda Strain mini-series and in Philadelphia in train station ads for the Philadelphia Soul. Another company called TruMedia Technologies has supplied similar tech to about 30 locations in the US, including malls in Chesterfield, Missouri, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Monroeville, Pennsylvania. None of the systems currently record or store video, but no one’s ruling that out as a possibility — and even worse, there’s talk of gathering racial data in an effort to even further target ads. Great, now we have yet another reason to break out the Nixon mask every time we leave the house.
Unless you’ve specifically been lookin’ out, you may have very well forgotten about WowWee’s crazed robotic dog that was uncaged at CES. After lasting through its first few days of training (which we’ll call a review for our purposes), we’re led to believe that this pup is “the silliest robot you’ll ever love.” Reviewers weren’t shy in calling it like it saw it, as Wrex was hailed as “absolutely terrible at being a dog and even worse at being a robot.” Of course, it’s fairly easy to see this bugger was meant to provide comedic relief and not sophisticated companionship, so those pointers aren’t exactly negative. Overall, Wrex is almost guaranteed to make you chuckle on a daily basis, and if you don’t believe that, just check out the video waiting after the break. [Via MAKE]
This whole “it’s web video, on your TV!” space is getting crowded fast, but we’d say there’s certainly room from this new “PoD” device from Verismo Networks. Not content to merely concentrate on one form of content, the PoD can handle content from YouTube, BitTorrent, vTap, Amazon Unbox, CinemaNow, you name it. It’s a pretty simple box, with an Ethernet plug, a couple of USB ports for flash storage, some sort of wireless (we’re guessing WiFi), and outputs for S-Video or HDMI, up to HD resolutions. It’ll sell later this summer for $99, with a bit of a marketing push from YouTube, so this probably won’t be the last you hear of PoD.
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