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Newsletter March 25, 2002

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o Technologies


You should take a look at yourself when you've been drinking

You meet up one evening with some friends and want to go for a drink, but no-one knows where to find the nearest bar. You go round in circles for hours before finding one that turns out not to be to your taste. But all that would never have happened if you had taken your eSleeve, or more precisely PubCrawl. It is part of the family of "wearable computers", and comes in the form of a watch that in fact is a wrist-based computer. This application queries a database of pubs (limited to Bristol, U.K. for the moment) and so localises the nearest bars, using the GPS system. On the screen, the four closest pubs are listed, each with a description of the establishment and details of how to get there.

After the pub has been found, and the evening is drawing to a close, it's time to think about how to get home. Reassure yourself, technology is there to help you once again. Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed an application that measures a person's capacity to drive after drinking. It is based on a system that checks the line of vision. In other words, it can detect if your view has been altered by alcohol. This tool is in the experimental stage and could have different applications: warning the driver when he or she should not drive, slowing down or stopping the vehicle automatically, notifying the police when a drunken driver has taken the route.

These tools can be very useful for avoiding accidents, but it should be remembered that between drinking and driving, you have to make a choice!

To discover what inventors are preparing for the future, you just have to go to the section:


> Bonzi Buddy: look out for the Gorilla!
Surfing the Web can rapidly become a repetitive task.Same sites, same pages.Fed up with that? Fortunately, there is a way to fight digital monotony: adopt a gorilla!Bonzi Buddy is a program that gives you the illusion of artificial life. This purple gorilla could become your true personal assistant.


> Butterfly
A real computer butterfly that helps control documents, folders, daily working notices and much more! Butterfly is a little live desktop assistant that can carefully save your daily notes, plain text fragments and so on - without even thinking about files or folders.


> A watch that tells you the way to the nearest pub
Two beer-loving British inventors have come up with a watch-sized computer that straps onto your wrist and tells you the way to the nearest pub. The device, called eSleeve, uses GPS technology to pinpoint your location and then lists the four nearest pubs on a small screen. Users must simply inquire, "Where's the boozer?" to activate the process. After choosing which pub you want to visit, the eSleeve displays street directions for getting there. "It works perfectly, but might have trouble recognizing your voice after one too many pints," says inventor Cliff Randell.

> Space Medicine Gets Smart
Smart medical devices that help astronauts handle emergencies such as electrical burns will become part of the International Space Station perhaps as early as next month. Further down the road, astronauts in trouble may also rely on "virtual clinics" on earth for in-depth medical assistance. These technologies, could also be used to help people on the ground in isolated places with no doctor nearby.

> Science Meet to Set Weather Robot Release
Scientists met in Australia to launch the next wave in a global climate-alert system by seeding the southern seas with thousands of floating hi-tech robots. Within the next four years, 3,000 free-floating ocean robots will be deployed in oceans around the world, most of them in the southern hemisphere. "We have to cover the globe," Stan Wilson, director of International Ocean Programs for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

> Drink-drive 'safety device' developed
An in-car device that checks motorists' line of vision has been developed to help prevent drink-driving. The device has been developed from research into the brain's role in guiding movement. It is designed to judge whether drivers have had too much to drink and should be allowed to drive. Its creator, Dr Dilwyn Marple-Horvat of Bristol University, UK, says it has the potential to be installed in cars within a year.

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