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July 2001. News and Events -Week 2-
JULY Week 1 - Week 2 - Week 3 - Week 4 - Week 5
The communicating car

OnStar, General Motors's mobile communications division, plans to purchase text–to–speech software from Boston–based SpeechWorks.
The software will eventually help General Motors translate text–based e–mail, stock quotes, news and sports updates into speech so that drivers do not have to take their eyes off the road to consult a screen or touch pad. SpeechWorks' products, including its flagship Speechify text–to–speech engine, allow people hands–free operation without displays.

Urbie the urban robot

Urbie is a small and lightweight robot. Its twin set of cameras act like eyes and provide stereoscopic vision, helping the rover avoid obstacles in its path. Arms that rotate 360 degrees permit Urbie to climb over obstacles and drive up stairs. If Urbie ever flips over, the arms help it to turn upright again.
Originally designed for mobile military reconnaissance in city terrain, Urbie may one day investigate environments contaminated with radiation, biological hazards or chemical spills. Urbie could also search for victims in fires too dangerous for firefighters.

iHome: house of the future

iHome is the first Austrian Internet home. It has been developed by Cisco Systems with twelve partners in the south of Vienna.
From the outside, the house looks like a normal prefabricated building. But inside, it is equipped with all the Internet infrastructure making it possible, for example, to switch on your heating while you are still in your office, see who is at the door without getting up from your armchair, etc.
Electricity and gas meters can also be monitored via PC or web pad, allowing you to track how much energy you are using and make adjustments if necessary.
A touchscreen on the wall of the living room gives the occupants access to all of the building's functions.

An intelligent robot against bombs

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have unveiled a wheeled police robot that makes many decisions on its own, freeing up its operator to make the more critical decisions during potentially dangerous bomb-disablement or other law enforcement missions.
The robot outfitted with cameras, grippers, and other sensors and tools is particularly useful during bomb threat responses because it can enter a dangerous area, assess the situation, and handle explosive devices while the human operator is safely behind a control panel hundreds of feet away.

Silicon circuits to mimic the human brain

Neuromorphic engineering aims to create silicon circuits that mimic the way human and animal brains work. Experts in this field, such as Rahul Sarpeshkar of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are convinced that the future of computing lies in understanding why humans and animals are so good at particular tasks, and in building computers that work in the same way. "Stupid-looking organisms are doing amazing computation," he says. "We need to replicate this in electronics."

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