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Newsletter June 25, 2001
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Home sweet techno-home

You've just got home from work. As you approach, your house recognizes you, opens the door and turns the lights on to greet you. The robot vacuum-cleaner has just finished cleaning the house. You are expecting guests? Luckily, your fridge has thought of ordering the ingredients for the recipe you had in mind. Your house has even recorded your favorite TV show. Welcome to your smart house!

A smart house can be controlled through a wall-mounted keyboard, a tele-command or even by voice. Better still, it can also be controlled from outside, using any digital telephone touch pad or via a Web page on the Internet.

The world market for home automation, in the widest sense, was estimated at 9.2 billion euros for the year 2000. In the 1980s, the first domotic applications focused above all on energy-saving and security. "That wasn't motivating enough to attract people's attention", admits Bruno de Latour, of the Association for the House of the Future.

Today, the future of home automation seems much brighter. The first key factor in this change was the generalization of the Internet, which enables the sharing of resources. The second factor is its simplification. A simplification made possible by the progress in computing, for example Sun's Jini technology for the communication between objects, whose first applications were presented in January 2000 in Las Vegas. The arrival of Ipv6(1), the new Internet protocol, will make it possible for every electronic object to have its own IP address, one more step towards total convergence.

(1) IPv6 :

Smart Houses on Agentland :


> Get your voting fingers ready
E-elctions may still be in their early stages in 2001, but in 2142 there's no danger of leaving dimpled chads on your voting slip. Get ready to cast your vote on the referendum over the Mann Act II, which willdecide whether or not to give full civic (human?) rights to robots in the US. The moment of truth is almost here!


> Beyond Imagination: Real Virtuality
Intelligent agents manage interfaces by interconnecting all the existing networks, allowing people to access information and act in real time, as do the neurons of the brain. This new planetary neural hypernetwork functions chaotically, fluidly, and in a way that is constantly reconfigurable in response to decisions...


N E W   A G E N T S

>> Shopbots <<

> NatShop
NatShop is a natural language shopping bot that compares price for new and previously owned products. It also compares products in auctions. Buyers can be alerted by e-mail when a specific product is available.

>> Avatars <<

> Networkissima
Networkissima is 100% virtual 3D creation developed by Semaphora. It's an innovative agent that presents Networkissimo services through a virtual and interactive visit.

A G E N T  U P D A T E S

>> File Sharing <<

> Napster
The new Beta version 10.3 of Napster, the file sharing program, incorporates new file identification technology that allows it to continue complying with the U.S. Federal court's injunction.
The company will soon disable previous versions of the Napster application in order to comply with the court order.

> Ohaha
Ohaha, the file sharing program that allowed you to exchange music, movies and other files with users around the world, is no longer available since 17 June 2001.
300,000 users have downloaded Ohaha. The application combined the features of Gnutella, Freenet, and Napster.

>> Web position <<

> TopDog
TopDog, the Web position agent, has been updated. Many search engines have been added such us, UK and Google Canada. Some engines have also been removed (Raging Search, which has merged with Alta Vista) or updated: (Alta Vista Australia, LookSmart Australia,, SAPO etc.).

>> Alerting agents <<

> Check&Get
Check&Get, the software that checks HTTP or FTP sites for changes, has been updated. The new version supports and checks secure HTTPS web pages for updates. Now Check&Get also supports Netscape 6 and Opera browsers. Users can receive e-mail notifications of changes in specific sites.


> EarthBrowser
EarthBrowser is constantly monitoring conditions around the globe. It will keep you informed on the latest weather forecasts, earthquakes, volcanoes and webcams from all over the world. It also becomes a screen saver when your computer is idle.


> Lampry Eel Cyborg in action
BBC now has a Real Player streaming video of the Lampry Eel Cyborg (The Robot With the Mind of an Eel - read the related article in agentland -). See how the robot tries to move away from a light pointed at its sensor.

> A Robot dinosaur
Troody is a two legged robot, modelled on the Late Cretaceous dinosaur Troodon. It is an exploration of the application of walking robot technology to dinosaur robots. The goal of the robot is to stand up, balance, and walk around. This technology will have useful applications where there is interest in dinosaurs, the study of biomechanical locomotion and robotics in general.

> EMIR: emotion technology
The EMIR emotion system was developed to make it easy for software engineers to build programs that act as if they have human emotions. Applications include computer games, aircraft crew management training systems, the creation of "virtual humans", and online survey systems.
The example Mr. Guerin (CEO of I&A Research Inc) uses to illustrate the concept is the EMIRThermostat used to control the temperature of a refrigerator. The device is programmed in such a way that it "feels frustrated when the door is left open, happy and in-control when the temperature is in range, and a full range of emotions on situations in between."

> The MIThril project
MIThril is the next-generation research platform for wearable computer currently in development at the MIT Media Lab. The design goal for MIThril is a system that is light, ergonomic, reliable, flexible, and scalable. MIThril is a collection of low-aspect ratio, small, low-power components which connect with each other through the MIThril body-bus and body network.

> Golf eGeneration: a connected car
Volkswagen will launch a new Internet-enabled Golf equipped with a PDA and a handy speech mechanism allowing access at any time to extensive services such as route planning, traffic and weather information. It is also possible to listen to MP3 files or make a phone call.
Volkswagen will begin selling the Golf eGeneration over the Internet on July 9 for a price of $19,319--about $1,760 more than a standard Golf without the high-tech gadgetry.
The new car, available only in a German pilot program, comes only in blue.


> Nextel makes your Email talking
Nextel Communications, Inc. has announced an alliance with etrieve, Inc. that will enable Nextel's customers to listen to corporate email, calendar and contact information from any Internet-ready Nextel phone.
The application, offered in both individual and corporate versions, supports Microsoft Exchange and Outlook, Lotus Notes, POP3- and IMAP4-based e-mail. Additionally, Nextel users can also print their e-mail and attachments through a fax machine using their mobile phones.


> The 22nd FIPA meeting
The 22nd meeting of the FIPA (Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents) standards group will be held in Sendai, Japan from 23-27 July, 2001 at the invitation of Communication Technologies. The main purpose of this meeting is to allow researchers and developers in the field of agents to collaborate in the discussion and production of FIPA specifications.

> International Conference on Intelligent Agents
International Conference on Intelligent Agents, Web Technology and Internet Commerce - IAWTIC'2001 will be held on July 9-11, 2001 in Las Vegas, USA.
Consisting of both plenary sessions and contributory sessions , this conference provides a medium for researchers and practitioners to exchange and explore the issues and opportunities in the area of intelligent agents, web technologies and Internet commerce.


> Iterative Software Engineering for Multiagent Systems
ThThis book by Lind, J. presents one of the first attempts to develop a methodology for a broad class of agent-based systems. It provides a clear introduction to the key issues in the field of agent-oriented software engineering and a comprehensive overview of the state of the art.

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