Technology to watch - Ultrawide Band (UWB) for HDTV streaming and indoor GPS

uwb_TVEvery few years we get a new technology buzzword to watch; it was nano technology, then RFID and now it is UWB (Ultra Wide Band).

What is Ultra Wide Band and why should you care? Let me explain what it can do and then I’ll give you 30 seconds to come up with an application for it.

Ultra Wide Band is (i) short range and (ii) high bandwidth wireless technology. The current UWB wireless data speed exceeds 500Mbps.

As a comparison, a full HD video streaming at 1072p, requires about 150Mbps data speed (35Mbps for basic streaming and 150Mbps for stream manipulating applications like pause, replay, fast forward); UWB can easily accommodate this level of data speed requirements. Freescale semiconductor showcased their first prototype consumer TV with Ultra Wideband several years ago.

There are 2 billion peripheral USB devices connected to computers right now, they can all loose the wires and work with UWB. UWB is a natural extension of Bluetooth and WiFi.

Here is how the network scales looks like:

network scales

The standard setting body for UWB is WiMedia Alliance. It is an open industry association that promotes and enables the rapid adoption, regulation, standardization and interoperability of UWB. (IEEE attempted to define working standard called IEEE 802.15.3 for UWB but it got trapped in the quagmire of internal politics.)

According to the most recent report from market researcher In-Stat, in very near future UWB sales will overtake WiFi sales volume ($300M+ this year). The current predictions are that UWB-enabled notebook PCs hit the market soon and PC peripherals will follow shortly thereafter. CE and communications applications with UWB will hit the market in 2010 and in 2011, over 400 million UWB-enabled devices will ship. Of course, one expects several delays and I have heard of issues with the current state of UWB technology and its low power constraint, but I am hopeful.

Another really interesting use of UWB is for indoor GPS services. Last week, Thales, a French Aerospace company, said that it has developed indoor positioning system (IPS) that was aimed at helping fire services pinpoint people inside a smoke filled building. Traditional Global Positioning System (GPS) devices are of no use inside buildings because their signals are too weak and frequently bounce off surfaces, causing confusion.

The UWB IPS system will work seamlessly with GPS. All big box stores and all malls can use a system like this to help customers get to the right place, to the right store and to the right product. All major car park systems can use a system like this to help patrons find their cars.

Micro Nuclear Reactor - only real way to go green is to go nuclear


It has been more than 100 years since we learned of E=mc^2, and yet we insist on pathetic chemical reactions to power our gadgets and use one of the most unclean methods, digging out the stored carbon, to run those chemical reactions. Something is wrong with that picture.

Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks.

The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet; about the size of a small truck. It is self sustaining, and can provide power for about 40 years for 200 families at 5 cents a kilowatt.

The 200 kilowatt Toshiba designed reactor is engineered to be fail-safe and totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. ( Next Energy News)

I don’t want micro reactors, I want nano or pico reactors. I want to buy a car that has a safe reactor built in. I want a car that comes with 200,000 miles warranty and fuel that will last 200,000 miles. I haven’t been very good this year, so I doubt Santa will bring me this present as yet, but very soon I hope.

The only real way to go green is to go nuclear.

Oblong’s point and click glove palms $8.8 million

image Oblong industries, a Los Angeles based company has raised $8.8 million in funding  from the Foundry group (picked up from regulatory filings).The company has interesting “gesture recognition” technology developed by founder and Chief Scientist John Underkoffler at MIT. John is a scientific and technical advisor to the movie industry (he has consulted for movies such as the Minority Report and The Hulk) and has designed human-machine feedback loop devices.

The latest gizmo is a glove that is more logical to use than a computer mouse, which is expected to become the first commercial gesture recognition device.

According to a patent filed in August 2006 by inventors, John Underkoffler and Kevin Parent (#20060187196):

image The system provides a gestural interface to various visually presented elements, presented on a display screen or screens. A gestural vocabulary includes `instantaneous` commands, in which forming one or both hands into the appropriate `pose` results in an immediate, one-time action; and `spatial` commands, in which the operator either refers directly to elements on the screen by way of literal `pointing` gestures or performs navigational maneuvers by way of relative or “offset” gestures. The system contemplates the ability to identify the users hands in the form of a glove or gloves with certain indicia provided thereon, or any suitable means for providing recognizable indicia on a user’s hands or body parts. A system of cameras can detect the position, orientation, and movement of the user’s hands and translate that information into executable commands.

In short, by using a special glove, a user’s gestures, such as pointing, can be translated into commands using cameras that pick up the position and orientation of the hands.

Finally, a true point and click device!


Technorati Tags: gesture recognition, John Underkoffler, oblong industries

Three cool things you can do with your DNA

Now that the holidays are upon us, what do you get for the person who has everything?

Well, you give them the gift of what they love the most - themselves!

image The field of “personal genetics” is seeing a gigantic explosion. For a price, you can find out who your ancestors were and what genetic afflictions you might have a predisposition for. And if that does not ring in the holiday cheer, you can (for a small amount of money) pass on your legacy by saving your genetic material for future generations!

Genetic archiving: DNA Direct $175

You can send out a simple cheek swab along with a small payment of $175 to DNA direct, a Genetic archiving company, which will conveniently “shrink wrap” your DNA is a synthetic medium and send it back to you “in lab-quality tubes and UV-resistant packaging for safe, stable storage”. And why would you want to do anything as creepy as storing your DNA?
According to DNA Direct:

There are a number of reasons people from all walks of life are choosing to store their DNA. Storing DNA is a good way to prepare for the future when genetic testing becomes more affordable, new genes are discovered, and genetic technologies continue to advance and bring new medical insight.


Stored DNA can be used to:
* Understand your family’s medical history
* Understand your inherited physical characteristics
* Understand your family tree

and, of course, spend some money and support the economy!

Genetic blueprint: 23andme $1000

If ever there was a company that had success coded into its genetics, it is the hot startup 23andme. Co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google’s founder Sergey Brin, and armed with a $3.9 million cash infusion from Google, the company is bringing Genetic blueprinting within the reach of the average Joe.

If you have ever lain awake wondering if you are going to inherit your Mom’s arthritis or your Dad’s heart problems, you might find it easier to get up and write a check for $1000 and send it off to 23andme along with your DNA, to find out all about your genetic future.

Disease risk: Navigenics $2500

This Silicon Valley company has racked up an impressive $25 million investment into its personal genomics service that is expected to scan your DNA and compare them to reference DNA, and correlate the genetic profile to the risk for specific diseases.

The test is not currently available to the public, but is expected to be released in 2008.

Technorati Tags: personal genetics, genetics, genome, dna direct, 23andme, navigenics

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