Peripherals

Microsoft Creates Operating System for Your Home

The “smart home” has been promised to us for years, mostly through press releases and the occasional TV commercial where someone’s refrigerator calls the repairman before they know there’s a problem, or you can remotely open and close your garage door with a smartphone from miles away.

Unfortunately, all of these efforts have involved a patchwork of communication capabilities from a variety of appliance, electronics, security system, and heating and cooling vendors, none of which can work together. Microsoft thinks it may have an answer with its HomeOS, which could provide centralized control of smart devices.

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Universal Translator Becomes Science Fact

One of the biggest tropes for sci-fi is the concept of the universal translator. A universal translator bypasses all sorts of possible complications with communication, keeping the story from being hijacked by questions about a language barrier. I don’t know if the term was created by Gene Roddenberry, but Star Trek certainly helped spread its use.

Now, AT&T is bringing the universal translator to an app store near you. Well, OK, maybe it isn’t quite universal yet. For now, the AT&T Translator is capable of seven languages. Thus far the app supports English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. It seems reasonable to assume that if the app catches on that more languages will eventually be added.

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LG Looks to Launch Flexible e-Paper

Claims that paper is dead are multiplying, but just how comfortable do you find those fancy e-readers? The Kindle just too bulky for you at 6 oz.? I suppose you think the Nook is even worse at 7.5 oz. Have no fear, LG is coming to your rescue with an e-reader so light you might forget you’re holding it.

Researchers at the electronics company have managed a breakthrough in what they are calling electronic paper display (EPD). EPD is basically an e-reader on an extremely thin piece of plastic that is flexible. Until the recent thin film transfer (TFT) breakthrough, LG hadn’t figured out a way to mass produce EPD to make it a viable product.

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Portable Alternative Energy Generators Gather Juice from Everyday Activities

For most tech-savvy folks, the best seat in the house is usually the one nearest a power outlet. Making sure that every device you own is constantly powered is almost a hobby, especially if you rely on those devices for work in the field. Enterprising engineers across the country are coming up with portable means of generating the energy you need, without resorting to bulky battery packs.

The nPower PEG (stands for personal energy generator) is a 9-in. rod that gathers kinetic energy from the up-and-down movement produced by walking. The PEG comes with a power cord that fits most handheld mobile devices. Walking for a minute provides a minute of power for an iPod Nano, 11 minutes of walking will charge up a minute worth of time for an iPhone 3G.

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IBM Researchers Create Nanotech Memory

Every time I buy a new hard drive, I always feel like I’ll never fill it. That was the case with my 8GB hard drive and continued to be true when I got my terabyte drive. Of course, I’ve always filled them, or come close enough that I’ve had to whittle down non-essential files. One part of the problem is that programs continue to grow larger, and the other part is that more and more information has become digital. I used to keep photos in a shoebox, now they are on my hard drive. The same is true for CAD files, simulation data and more.

So, if you are like me, you should rejoice at the recent findings by an IBM research team. As part of a five-year drive to devise a new angle on data storage, the team turned to nanotechnology. They began by seeing how much information they could store on a single atom, but they quickly learned that even a combination of two atoms wasn’t stable enough to maintain information integrity.

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