While it is still a couple of hours before Bill Gates makes his final keynote at CES as grand pooba of Microsoft, apparently he has been bandying about his own prognostications that touch, as well as voice and vision, interfaces are the coming trend that will have a significant impact on computing technologies over the next 5 years. I guess that Frank’s statement that this will be the year of touch should be stretched out a bit more. Oh well, now we just have to wait for the webcast of the keynote to see if they talk about Surface and the newly leaked Windows Mobile 7.
Crunch Gear offers up the next LBS device. The SPOT Communicator is a GPS unit that can send your current position via satellite. The press release shows that the target market is the outdoor enthusiast and field workers who are often outside of cell range. Battery life is pretty good given the lack of screen, just four buttons: Help, On/Off, OK, and 911. Given its orange case, it is great if you want to add a bit of safety in hunting season.
The first bit of GPS news out of CES this year has Magellan releasing the Maestro 5340 which will include GPRS for cell network connectivity. This network connectivity will be used to connect to…you guessed it…Google search and data services. At almost $1300 for the unit it will not be for small of purse, and don’t forget the charge for the GPRS connection.
Japan has set a target to increase it’s number of solar powered houses to 14 million by 2030. It’s a fairly lofty goal. The exceptionally noteworthy part of this is that Japan is focusing on reducing the costs of panels, increasing the power output, and increasing the ease of installation. Since Japan produces roughly half the solar panels in the world, hopefully some of these improvements will find their way to other shores. I know I looked at solar panels for my house a couple of years ago when I was building. It just wasn’t cost effective for our area at the time. Hopefully with the rising price of electricity, these potential improvements will be a big boon!
Engadget is reporting a pretty cool device that projects navigation information on your windshield. The navigation is really nothing more than a red line indicating which direction you should travel. The nice thing is that it places the line into your real world context, plus it doesn’t require the driver to take his or her eyes off the road. The company that makes the product, Making Virtual Solid, says it can be implemented for around $400. No working demos quite yet, but hopefully there’s something available in the coming year. It’s a pretty cool idea if they can get it implemented!
Engadget is reporting a news item that the UK is planning on powering all the home in Britain via off shore wind power by 2020. That’s a pretty ambitious project. The interesting portion of this is the off shore wind farms, which have been in use in Europe for upwards of a couple decades. The US has been rather slow to adopt off shore wind farms for a variety of reasons. Hopefully plans like these – even if ultimately unsuccessful – will spur the US to explore the technology further.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this project, as I’m a HUGE proponent of offshore wind energy.
Fairly old news, but I was just adding some widgets to my Chumby and found that someone has finally made a Yahoo! Maps widget. Since the Chumby runs Flash-based widgets it was to be expected Yahoo! would be the first to show up. I am still hoping that Loki will decide to build a widget for the Chumby for the location-based goodness
There are only a few days left in a great promotion over at the One Laptop Per Child project where for $399 you donate a laptop to a child overseas AND get one for yourself (to keep or give away…your choice). An added bonus is that T-Mobile is offering one year of wireless access on their Hot Spot wifi network . You only have until November 26th to take advantage of the promotion.
So, the next multitouch to market is Jeff Hann’s wall (first shown at the Ted conference a couple of years ago). I am not sure that at $100,000 it is for most in the geospatial industry, especially since the TouchTable has been around for a couple of years. After playing with the iPod Touch I know that multitouch is the way it is going…and while Microsoft’s Surface promises a lower cost entry point for the large multitouch systems, will it be sold through Neiman Marcus?
I came across Zonbu on a couple of tech blogs today and was curious about the many claims…inexpensive, green, silent, data service. After wandering the website it actually looks promising for folks who have minimal computing needs. It runs on a Linux variant and is preinstalled with your standard software: Firefox, OpenOffice, IM, Skype, but it is locked down. No installing your own software, not that there is much room to do so since it has no hard drive so your OS and apps live on 4GB of flash memory and your files live on the Zonbu servers. They offer multiple plans for storage which are pretty reasonable and I wouldn’t be too surprised if folks didn’t buy it more for the accessibility of data (you can log in to your Zonbu account from any computer).
With a 2 year account the little machine is $99, but you can buy it out right for $250 which is where things get interesting. There are plenty of USB ports for external drives and if you aren’t connecting to the Zonbu servers there shouldn’t be a problem with formatting the drive and putting your OS of choice on the system (as long as it is less than 4GB, or if the box can boot to USB). There is no hard drive or DVD/CD and it runs a low power processor so there is no need for a fan (very important if you are recording a podcast). So all in all it seems to live up to its hype and looks imminently hackable.