Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

China plans virtual world for commerce

October 15, 2007

Your favorite pants are fraying? You may soon be able to order replacements directly from the factory where they were made, according to the chief scientist of an ambitious Chinese Internet project.

China’s government is building a vast virtual world dubbed Beijing Cyber Recreation District, which founders say will help the manufacturing superpower evolve into an e-commerce juggernaut.

Some supply-chain experts say the project is impossibly grandiose in its goal to provide direct links between tens of thousands of Chinese manufacturers and millions of individual customers around the world.

But every “Made in China” label eventually could include a Web site where customers could order more — and Chinese factories would produce custom-made goods and send them directly to consumers’ homes, mused Chi Tau Robert Lai, chief scientist of the virtual world.

Full article:  Associated Press


Online worlds to be AI incubators

September 13, 2007

Screenshot of Second Life, Linden LabsOnline worlds such as Second Life will soon become training grounds for artificial intelligences.

Researchers at US firm Novamente have created software that learns by controlling avatars in virtual worlds.

Initially the AIs will be embodied in pets that will get smarter by interacting with the avatars controlled by their human owners.

Novamente said it eventually aimed to create more sophisticated avatars such as talking parrots and even babies.

Source:  BBC News

Cerf predicts the end of TV as we know it

August 28, 2007

Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf – one of the handful of researchers who helped build the internet in the 1970s – said that the television industry would change rapidly as it approached its “iPod moment”.  The 64-year-old told an audience of media moguls that TV was rapidly approaching the same kind of crunch moment that the music industry faced with the arrival of the MP3 player.

“85% of all video we watch is pre-recorded, so you can set your system to download it all the time,” he said. “You’re still going to need live television for certain things – like news, sporting events and emergencies – but increasingly it is going to be almost like the iPod, where you download content to look at later.”

Dr Cerf also revealed that he has been working on future developments for the Internet, taking it beyond the confines of planet Earth. He has been helping develop systems for using the net to communicate and control space vehicles, including interplanetary landers sent to explore the surface of Mars.

Source:  Guardian

Younger for longer

June 3, 2007

Severe calorie restriction extends life-span in mice and other species, but how near-starvation can prolong life remained a mystery.

Now at last, specific links between calorie restriction and longevity have been found in that workhorse of ageing research, the nematode C. elegans

Nicholas Bishop and Leonard Guarente find that dietary restriction activates transcription factor SKN-1 in ASI neurons in the head, which signal peripheral tissues to increase metabolic activity, a mechanism suggestive of the involvement of an endocrine system.

Source:  Nature (registration required)

New Internet umbrella created

May 16, 2007

Rainy days will never seem as dull again thanks to a new Internet umbrella.The high-tech brolly allows you to take pictures with a built-in camera. These can be uploaded to Flickr (a photo-sharing website) via a wireless internet connection and within two minutes you can watch downloaded photo-streams on your umbrella screen with a simple wrist-snapping movement.

Invented in Tokyo (where else?) the Pileus umbrella also has GPS and a digital compass, which uses Google Earth to help you navigate yourself around the world. They are working on incorparating a video camera as well.

Source:  Daily Mail

Top 25 things that changed the Internet

April 30, 2007

In celebration of the 25-year anniversary of the birth of today’s Internet, USA Today has an interesting article on what they think are the 25 things that made cyberspace what it is today.  Here are the Top Five:

World Wide Web

Tim Berners-Lee created user-friendly “Web pages” that could travel over the Internet, a network built to shuttle research between universities. The world logged on: 747 million adults in January.


Tech’s answer to the Pony Express. Programs such as 1988’s Eudora made it easy to use. In-boxes have been filling up ever since. Nearly 97 billion e-mails are sent each day.

 Graphical user interface (GUI)

Most computer displays were blinking lines of text until Apple featured clickable icons and other graphic tools in its 1984 Mac. Microsoft’s Windows took GUI — pronounced “gooey” — to the masses.


AOL turned people on to Web portals, chat rooms and instant messaging. Early subscribers paid by the hour. AOL once boasted 35 million subscribers. It bought Time Warner for $106 billion in 2001.


The answer to the drip-drip-drip of dial-up, high-speed Internet service fuels online entertainment. About 78% of home Internet users in the U.S. have broadband, up from less than 1% in 1998.

Media partners take further step into virtual world

April 17, 2007

An ambitious partnership between the production company responsible for Big Brother and the US video gaming giant behind The Sims yesterday offered a glimpse of the future and brought a Truman Show-style reality one step closer.

Endemol and Electronic Arts [EA] will team up to allow viewers to create online representations of themselves which they can enter into virtual versions of hit television programs. Among the first fruits of the partnership will be a version of Big Brother allowing users at home to compete against each other in their own versions of the show.

The “avatars” will also be able to take part in versions of other Endemol shows such as Deal or No Deal.

Source:  Guardian

Net reaches out to final frontier

April 14, 2007

A program to kick-start the use of Internet communications in space has been announced by the U.S. government.

The Department of Defense’s Iris project will put an internet router in space by the start of 2009.  It will allow voice, video and data communications for US troops using standards developed for the Internet.

More info:  BBC News

For Chatting Face to Face, Webcams With a Clearer View

April 1, 2007

New York Times article on how better cameras and video services are making it easier for people to talk and see each other over the Internet.

Companies that once offered only instant messaging services have been adding and improving video messaging programs that allow subscribers to see and talk to one another, too, with tolerable sound and image quality.

To tap this potential world of video buddies, manufacturers are offering high-quality portable Web cameras that clip neatly onto laptops, or pack up in small containers to be taken along on business trips.

The cameras are about the size of a lipstick and plug directly into the U.S.B. port on a computer. They have built-in microphones and wide-angle lenses. Because they can be mounted securely to the top of the monitor, they will not wobble or produce unflattering, under-the-chin views of faces, as desktop Webcams are prone to do when perched on the arm of a chair or hitched temporarily to a laptop.

Virtual-space gurus build final frontier

March 30, 2007

Shuttle and station

MSNBC’s Alan Boyle reports that Second Life now has floating launch pads, mini-planets, space shuttles and an international space station. 

More is on the way: environments that look and feel like the moon, for instance, or simulated lava tubes that could help researchers build real-life bases on the moon or Mars.

The colonization of virtual outer space hints at the shape of things to come, for NASA as well as less traditional players on the final frontier. And along the way, the virtual-world pioneers are encountering some of the same technical and bureaucratic challenges they deal with in the real world.

Science fiction is a huge draw in Second Life — an online environment where more than 5 million user-controlled characters, or “avatars,” can interact with each other. There are virtual enclaves for fans of “Star Trek,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Serenity” and other outer-space realms from films and TV shows. But what we’re talking about here is a different level of virtual space, drawing upon real spacecraft and real-life organizations.