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Tech-news archive: September-October 2006

Star Trek's universal translator
'Tower of Babel' translator made
(Oct 27, 2006)

A "Tower of Babel" device that gives the illusion of being bilingual is being developed by US scientists. Users simply have to silently mouth a word in their own language for it to be translated and read out in another. The researchers said the effect was like watching a television programme that had been dubbed. (Image: Universal translator from Star Trek.)

Read more. Source: BBC

computer game player
Fun solutions to serious problems
(Oct 15, 2006)

Scientists and researchers from around the world have been exhibiting their gadgets at New York's WIRED NextFest. And some of these products have the potential to change lives. Novelty technology is not just fun and games, it can also save lives. The NextFest exhibition in New York is a celebration of great ideas.

Read more. Source: BBC

Chinese Internet users
Warning over 'broken up' internet
(Oct 11, 2006)

The internet could one day be broken up into separate networks around the world, a leading light in the development of the net has warned. Nitin Desai, chair of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), set up by the UN, warned that concerns over the net's future could lead to separation.

Read more. Source: BBC

Halo 3
Halo universe expands as fans wait
(Oct 5, 2006)

The announcement of a new videogame spin-off from the popular Halo franchise has fans buzzing but the developers of a third title in the series remain tight-lipped. At the end of Microsoft's Xbox event last week, the lights dimmed and the screen filled with the recognisable characters and crafts from the Halo games.

Read more. Source: BBC

Engine on a chip drives laptops
(Sep 28, 2006)

It is one of the most hotly contested and closely watched areas of research – how to provide the most efficient energy source for the mobile devices we carry with us. Batteries and fuel cells are established contenders to power laptops and mobile phones, but now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have come up with a novel approach to the power conundrum – by building an engine on a chip.

Read more. Source: BBC

balloon-borne platform
Even on the ground, space elevators may have uses
(Sep 27, 2006)

Balloon-borne platforms developed as precursors to space elevators could be used as high-altitude relay stations for wireless communications, a 60-day field test suggests. The hope is that one day a space elevator, comprised of a robot that will climb a strong tether about 100,000 kilometres (60,000 miles) long, will be able to send humans or other cargo cheaply into space.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

shapeshifting metal
Roll-up screens 'moving closer'
(Sep 21, 2006)

Roll-up laptop screens may be a step closer, according to scientists. A Cambridge team have developed metal structures that can morph from flat screens into tubes and other shapes. They say in the future the structures could form the basis for electronic displays that could be rolled-up and placed in a bag or pocket.

Read more. Source: BBC

3D glasses
3D TV 'could be three years away'
(Sep 21, 2006)

3D television could be in homes within three years, according to a European research consortium. Levent Onural, co-ordinator of the multinational 3DTV network, said the technology was already in place for 3D TV and cinema to become commonplace. The consortium, funded by the European Commission, consists of about 200 researchers in seven countries, and is halfway through its four-year duration.

Read more. Source: BBC

miniature projector
Projector size of sugar cube made
(Sep 20, 2006)

A video projector that is the size of a sugar cube has been created by researchers. The miniature device could be used to project images from mobile phones, PDAs or laptops, according to the team. It was created by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany.

Read more. Source: BBC

computer motherboard
'Sticky' silicon could speed data
(Sep 19, 2006)

Data speeds inside computers or across continents could get a boost from Intel research into hybrid processors. Intel researchers have solved a manufacturing problem that has delayed the creation of devices that can both generate and route light. The breakthrough could mean cheaper and higher speed computer networks and help to speed up the transfer of data inside computers.

Read more. Source: BBC

Apple iTV device
Apple targets TV and film market
(Sep 13, 2006)

Computer firm Apple has announced plans it hopes will put it at the heart of consumers' home entertainment systems. On Tuesday it unveiled a device which will stream music and video wirelessly between televisons and computers. The plug-in hardware is due to be released early next year and has been given the temporary name of iTV.

Read more. Source: BBC

Blue Gene
Fastest supercomputer to be built
(Sep 7, 2006)

Computer giant IBM will build the world's most powerful supercomputer at a US government laboratory. The machine, codenamed Roadrunner, could be four times more potent than the current fastest machine, BlueGene/L [shown here], also built by IBM. The new computer is a "hybrid" design, using both conventional supercomputer processors and the new "cell" chip designed for Sony's PlayStation 3.

Read more. Source: BBC

Cambridge crest in miniature
Nanodoodling shows pipette power
(Sep 6, 2006)

It is highly accurate, but there is something unusual about this image of the Cambridge University crest. The picture is about the width of a human hair, and is made up entirely of gently fluorescing DNA. It is produced by a technique that lets scientists examine the body's tiniest machinery while it is still working.

Read more. Source: BBC


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