Archive for the 'Technology' Category

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The Next-Gen iPhone

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Get ready for another reason to buy an iPhone. A new version of the popular phone/music player/web browsing device will be released in the next year. This one will be compatible with third-generation (3G) wireless broadband service.

The lack of support for 3G broadband has been a major critique of the iPhone. Steve Jobs claimed last fall that Apple had not yet developed a 3G compatible iPhone with a reasonable battery life. These issues appear to be clearing up, however, and a new edition will likely be released within the year.

Coordinating with the newest iPhone is the expansion of AT&T’s 3G wireless network. AT&T plans to add 80 cities to its 3G network, upgrading these locations from its slower ATT&T Edge wireless network. Download times for the 3G network are about three times faster than those on the ATT&T Edge network.

Yet Another Music Format: On Your Wrist!

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It used to be vinyl. Then it was audiotapes and CD’s, and later, MP3’s. (Wait! Did I forget the 8-track?)

Music formats are eternally changing. It seems that music distribution today is a battle between the consumer (who doesn’t want DRM to interfere with their music listening) and the record company (forced to take drastic measures to combat illegal piracy).

The newest innovation may satisfy everybody. Many bands are releasing albums on a small USB stick embedded into a trendy bracelet. This combines actual merchandise with digital access — the music can be played on any USB-enabled music player or downloaded to a computer.

The new format is attracting all kinds of artists, from big names like Erykah Badu and Ringo Starr to local, indie acts. Music fans like it because the format is flexible and free of digital rights management restrictions.

Unfortunately, the technology is still expensive. It’s offered now mainly as a collector’s item. But as USB and Flash technology become cheaper, this could become the new favorite way to buy music.

Find out more about music on USB bracelets at .

An Android in Your Pocket

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With the shear volume of cell phone manufacturers and wireless telephone service providers, the market is becoming very fragmented. It’s a little like the days of the railroads before everybody decided on a specific track gauge to use.

The problem? Most cell phone components use proprietary software that will not work with components and services from other brands. You’re probably familiar with this if you’ve switched cell networks and been told that you had to purchase a new phone (or else come up with a dubious way to "unlock" your old one).

Google’s Android technology is meant to solve this issue by providing a general framework for cell phone devices that is easy to modify for specific components. The best part? It’s an open development platform, allowing software designers much more freedom in the applications they offer.

The new Android prototype premiered at the SGMA’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. So far, there is no word on when the technology will reach the consumer market.

Get the most from your laptop battery

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In this world of revolutionary wireless technology, there is one thing still keeping you wired to the wall, and that’s your power cord.

Widespread access to wireless networks means that you can take your laptop with you and work most anywhere. But the lithium battery in your laptop only lasts a few hours. This means that you will inevitably find yourself searching your surroundings for a power outlet.

Recently, researchers at Stanford University have found a way to make a silicon lithium battery that will last 10 times as long as conventional laptop batteries. The secret is the use of silicon nanowires — small strands that are smaller than a human hair.

These silicon nanowires have the ability to soak up a great deal of lithium ions, meaning that you can store much more energy than in conventional lithium batteries. So far, the result has only been seen in the laboratory, but this new technology should find its way to the consumer market (and your laptop) before long.

IPS picks up where GPS leaves off

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Lost in the woods? If you have a GPS device with you, you can easily recover your path. But if you’re indoors, you’re out of luck. GPS signals cannot penetrate solid obstacles, making them useless inside most buildings. Here’s where local wireless networks may come to the rescue. An IPS, or indoor positioning system, uses ultrasound, infrared, or radio waves to obtain the position of an IPS device. This means you could strap on an IPS wristband, and your movements could be tracked, even inside buildings!

Cause for privacy concern? Certainly. If you were forced to wear a wristband, anyone with access to the network could track your movements. But just as GPS systems have helped to rescue stranded hikers in the wilderness, IPS systems could help firefighters navigate a burning building to find trapped victims. Hospitals are already using a similar ultrasound-based technology to help patients recognize the myriads of doctors, nurses, and other workers who attend to their needs.