15 Tech Concepts to Know

[via Slashdot] Popular Mechanics offers some things we need to know for the coming year. Among them:

Body Area Network (BAN)
Like everything else, implantable medical devices are going wireless. A new in-body antenna chip from Zarlink Semiconductor is in preproduction, and should appear in pacemakers and hearing implants this year. By transmitting data to and receiving instructions from nearby base stations, BAN chips can reprogram your heartbeat at your doctor’s office or make a diagnosis from a bedside wireless monitor at home.

NAND Flash Memory
Compared to the mini hard drives used in portable electronics, flash memory is smaller, has fewer moving parts and uses less power. But until recently, flash hasn’t had the storage capacity to find its way into multigigabyte devices. NAND flash memory, however, can store huge amounts of data on tiny chips. (The NAND refers to the logic gate used in the circuits.) Last fall, Apple brought NAND chips into the hands of the public with the 2GB and 4GB iPod nano music players. Capacities will only increase. Samsung has announced that its 16GB NAND chip will be on the market before the end of 2006.

Ajax and Mobiles

[via Vinu] C. Enrique Ortiz writes:

After reading recent posts about how AJAX is the medicine when it comes to mobility app development, I have to say: STOP! For the sake of new developers entering this space let’s not confuse things. No, AJAX will NOT save mobility from fragmentation, porting issues, and so on.

There are fundamental differences between browser-based (or thin clients) and smart/rich clients — and this comes to no surprise to experienced developers. There also are reasons and requirements why you would create a browser-based vs. a smart client application. In short, the argument that one approach to mobile applications will replace the other is completely flawed.

Google’s Offline Moves

WSJ writes about Google’s acquisition of dMarc Broadcasting Inc., which “runs an online system for advertisers to buy radio airtime.”

Most people think of Google as a place to go to gather information. But in a business sense, Google operates as a huge clearinghouse for advertisers. At the heart of Google’s advertising operation is an automated system that auctions off the right to place advertisements on its search-results pages when an Internet user types in certain key words. Most of its advertisers simply log into the system to place their ads and make their bids. They pay only when someone clicks on the ad. Google also brokers the sale of ads that appear on other Web sites — sometimes tied into key words and sometimes not.

The radio deal is the latest of a series of recent moves by Google in which it aims to bring its Internet advertising expertise to bear on old-media markets. Since last year, Google says it has been placing ads on behalf of advertisers in three magazines and the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. And Chief Executive Eric Schmidt late last year acknowledged in an interview that the company is considering extending its ad system to TV advertising as well.

At the core of Google’s foray into offline-media advertising is its realization that traditional media such as newspapers, TV and radio remain vastly larger ad markets than the Internet, despite shifts to the Web in recent years.

WSJ on Digg

WSJ writes:

The Web site lets users submit links to stories they recommend, along with brief summaries. Users also vote for submissions by clicking on a button labeled “digg it.” Each person can vote once per story. The most popular stories — determined by a formula the site doesn’t disclose, including factors like the number of votes received and the time of day — are automatically promoted to the site’s main page.

The items on Digg.com tend to be a mix of uber-geek and offbeat, such as a Web tutorial titled “How to Set Up Database Replication in MySQL,” or a link to a harpsichord built out of Lego pieces. Also, stories are ranked on the home page based on how recently they were promoted, rather than their significance. On the day of Apple Computer Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs’s presentation at the Macworld conference last week, the stories on the subject — which had more than a thousand votes — were quickly topped on Digg by unrelated stories with just a few dozen votes.

TECH TALK: India Rising: Flying Free

Another sector which has seen an amazing amount of turbulence is air travel. Until a couple or so years ago, India had effectively just three airline carriers the state-owned Indian Airlines, and the two private carriers (Jet and Sahara). Every so often, prices went up so much so that it was cheaper to travel to foreign destinations than travel within the country. All that changed with the launch of Deccan Airways. A no-frills carrier, Deccan has been the pioneer which has seen air travel become affordable. Like mobiles, it has started bridging families separated by distance and fueled an increase in both leisure and business travel. Now, any number of airlines are taking off. And just recently, Air-India, the state-owned international carrier, placed a huge order with Boeing for 68 aircrafts.

A Business Week story last September captured the essence of the change: With prices as low as 30% of current fares — often as cheap as a train ticket — the newbies could boost India’s annual air traffic by 30%, to 20 million passengers, within a year, says Kapil Kaul, a consultant with the Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

The new discount airlines are using technology to the hilt. A majority of their bookings come via the Internet. They use mobiles to alert users to delays. Here is a story of Shrikant Patil, which highlights the changing face of Indian aviation: I generally need to travel from Pune to Bangalore at short notices of 3-4 days. With Intel it was on Jet Airways and the full return fare is about Rs 14,000. On Spicejet even at 3-4 days notice I am able to fly for Rs 5000 return. It would be much lower if I am able to plan my travel at least a month in advance. Thats a Rs 9000 saving for approximately 2.5 hours of flying time. Spicejet is a true budget , no frills airline, no newspapers, no TV, no magazines, no food except a bottle of water and a cookie. Even though it is a budget airline, it has not compromised on the basics, brand new air planes, a very user friendly web site, call centre with good diction and fast turnaround time with automated boarding. This has been implemented with a laptop and a barcode scanner connected to the USB port. Even full service airline, Jet Airways manually strikes out seats as passengers start boarding the aircraft. I have to date travelled 5 times and last evening the flight to depart from Bangalore at 5.40 pm was initially delayed by 40 minutes and first informed by sms at 2 pm. I again received an sms at 2.30pm informing me that the flight has been delayed by an additional 30 minutes. This allowed me to have an additional unplanned meeting and reach the airport at the rescheduled time of 6.50 pm. The flight left within 5 minutes of the rescheduled time[Spicejet] is a good example of how various technologies have been used effectively to provide value to the customer. They are redefining air travel with all the basics to scale in place.

The interesting sidebar to this story is that the Indian Railways are also working to improve their offerings. Finally, it seems, travel in India is no longer the travail that it once used to be!

Next Week: India Rising (continued)

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