by April 1, 2000 0 comments

Net-savvy Mars
In an amazing development, NASA has announced that it would be deploying a
fleet of satellites around Mars, giving the planet its own Internet. The
Martian “Local Area Network” would be extensively used in research
projects on the red planet.

Mind-boggling Millipede
“We’re at the stage where if everything works out, the potential is
huge, but we don’t know if it’ll work out”, was all that Mark
Lutwyche, an enthusiastic IBM researcher had to say about a technology that,
in a few years, may lead to minute devices with 100 times the density of
today’s hard drives. The Millipede system uses an array of minute sensor
arms to read the pattern of indentations in a tiny square of plastic, which
resembles one of the earliest storage media in computing–punch cards.
Millipede technology could increase the density of data storage by
unthinkable dimensions. The system can store 400 GB per square inch. A
prototype, measuring 3 square mm, stores just under 1 GB of data.

Intelligent mobile-phone
keypad

The increasing popularity of wireless application protocol (WAP) services,
mobile e-mail, mobile micro-browsers, and short messaging service (SMS) has
left mobile phone manufacturers craving for technological developments which
could make cellphones more useful for these applications. Now, they have
something to look forward to. Motorola’s Lexicus Division recently
announced the general availability of its ITAP Intelligent Keypad Entry
System. ITAP is an application that manufacturers can install on mobile
phones and wireless devices to let end-users key in words with the telephone’s
keypad, without needing the cumbersome multiple-key pressing system that’s
currently used. On a typical mobile phone, to type in a word, say
“GURU”, the user presses the “4” button once,
“8” twice, “7” twice and “8” twice again. ITAP
enables the user to type in “GURU” simply by pressing
“4878”. If the word appearing on the screen is not the required
word, you can select some other combination out of a customizable loaded
diction
ary of over 40,000 words. ITAP has enough potential to take
the field of mobile networking by storm. More information is available at:
www.mot.com/MIMS/lexicus.

After Myst and Riven
It’s a well-known fact that Cyan Technologies’ Myst is the best-selling
game ever. They followed it up with another mega-selling game–Riven.
However, it’s now been nearly two years since Cyan has come up with
anything. Ever wondered what they were up to? Well, people at Cyan have been
busy writing novels–about the fantasy land D’ni which was the focal
point in both Myst and Riven. If you remember, D’Ni was referred to as
Dunny in Myst. These novels–three in number–tell the stories preceding
Myst. The novels are so well researched that Cyan has created a completely
new D’Ni script to make it appear original. Cyan is still tightlipped
about a sequel to Riven, which was promised in the last scenes of the game.
They are meanwhile, releasing Myst Millennium Edition, which is essentially
Myst with enhanced graphics and sound and more animation sequences. Watch
this space for further developments.Broadband through
satellite

Ever got irritated with the excruciatingly long delay between action and
reaction when playing online? There’s a solution for it round the corner–satellites
that would have two-way broadband services. Two-way broadband Web-access isn’t
new. Both cable and DSL support this feature, but this is the first time
that Web-access through satellites would support it.

MSN and Gilat Satellite are
among the companies who plan to go live by the year-end. Whereas the
downstream access will reach speeds of 400 kbps, upstream (information you
send to the Internet) speeds would be limited to 56 kbps. The first truly
two-way broadband satellite Internet service won’t be available until the
end of 2001. The service, produced by iSky, would offer 1.5 Mbps downstream
and 0.5-1.0 Mbps upstream access speeds. Other companies in the fray include
Hughes, Astrolink and Teledesic. Hughes Electronics, working in conjunction
with AOL, plans to introduce an interactive DirecTV/AOL TV set-top box with
AOL Internet service. Speeds would be similar to the MSN/Gilat service.
Hughes is also developing a two-way broadband satellite service called
Spaceway, to be launched in 2003.

Astrolink’s two-way
broadband satellite service is scheduled to go live in 2003. Service speeds
will vary but are expected to go as high as 226 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps
upstream. However, it’ll be far more expensive than the other services,
with installation prices ranging from around $1,000 to $8,000, plus monthly
fees.

Teledesic, in the meantime,
is targeting its two-way broadband satellite Internet service for 2004. The
speeds could range from 64 Mbps downstream and 2 Mbps upstream.

Convergence all the way…
Convergence is a hot
word today. Integration of the Internet and mobile computing, and of various
services related to voice, data, and visual communications, is assuming
realistic proportions. Carrying forward the trend of forming companies which
provide seamless integration of such services to customers, two of the
largest players in the US market recently unveiled plans to merge into a
single company, which provides what they call an “All-Distance
Carrier”.

The idea is quite simple. If
you have a number of independent players providing services that can finally
be converged, you’ll have to deal with issues like compatibility in
protocols, problems in switching, and above all–market competition, when
you try to converge them. The solution is to form a single service provider,
which combines together all these under a common umbrella, and caters to the
needs of customers on the move. This means integrating local, long distance,
and international calls, data, Internet, wireline and wireless services.

MCI and Sprint, the number
two and the number three long-distance service providers in the United
States, are carrying this idea forward through a possible merger. Steps
taken under such a plan would include providing broadband services to rural
areas, convenient service packages to infrequent callers, etc. This scheme
of things could be of importance to Indian customers, since it’s likely to
encourage mergers between players in the Indian market as well, more so
after the handshake between AT&T and Time-Warner.Network your home

You get to hear about it in science fiction, but the promise of a home
strewn with intelligent appliances—all networked together seamlessly
through a central home PC, has come a step closer to reality with the
release of MediaWire. MediaWire is designed to solve the problems of
distributing broadband multimedia content throughout the home, while also
meeting the needs of the more casual user seeking to network PCs and
peripherals. The technology uses the familiar RJ-45 (the type that your
modem uses) connectors and is fully self-configuring. Examples of products
that will be a part of this system are mid- to high-end consumer electronics
devices, including DVD video and audio players, televisions, and stereo
systems.

Developed by Avio Digital,
MediaWire is essentially a phone-line home network, which would support both
high-quality categorized UTP wire (category 3 and category 5 phone wire) as
well as many types of existing in-wall phone wiring. When used with
categorized wiring, the first-generation MediaWire chipset delivers 100 Mbps
full duplex throughput—more bandwidth than 100BaseT corporate networks and
up to 100 times faster than alternative home networking solutions. The
bandwidth of this scheme enables a single telephone line to simultaneously
multiplex 32 24-bit audio channels, eight MPEG-2 video channels (6 Mbps
each), 16 digital phone or ISDN lines, and over 12 Mbps of serial control or
TCP/IP data. MediaWire is designed to network devices anywhere in the home
up to 33 meters apart, and is based on a logical ring topology, which is
both synchronous and stream-based.

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