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Spectacular new hardware for 2008

by Bob Wright

In 2007 brought us a revolution in data storage, PCs smaller than a shoe box and the quad processor. So, what now?

 Sci-fi books and movies have for a long time given us the headset that allows a user to interface with a computer. These EEG (electroencephalography) sensor headsets have always been a promise of the future...

that is until 2008. Emotiv Systems and NeuroSky  now will have the headset available for sale this year.  Gamers will be excited and even users of standard applications now or in the future will be controlled by brain waves.

Will keyboards and mice go the way of the 8-track tape?  Probably not in the near future.  Every time we have a new human interface, such as speech using Dragon Natural Speaking, touch screen monitors or drawing tablets, we find ourselves continuing with our mouse & keyboard.

Real World Web
The machines know where you are...  and that maybe a good thing. As more portable devices merge GPS information with network connectivity through cellular, Wi-Fi or other portable Internet access, Internet use will change.  Do a Yellow Pages search on "pizza" when you're in a new town and your smart-phone will tell you the closest spot to get a pie.  New pop-up ads may not be far behind...  imagine receiving an alert that a Starbucks is just a block away, along with an electronic coupon for a new coffee flavor.  The trend may get a boost with the advent of 'Android,' a new open source mobile platform backed by Google.  The company's mastery of contextual information could help kick-start a new, location based information age.

Flexible Displays
Miniaturization is great, but not everyone wants to read the news on a 1.5-in.cellphone screen.  Polymer Vision's Readius, due
 to be released this year, will be the first mobile device with a screen bigger than the device itself. 

The trick is a paper-thin rollable  display incorporating "electronic ink" made by E Ink, (also found in the Sony Reader).  The 5-in. screen offers paper-like readability even in bright sun and generates 16 shades of gray, with color expected to follow.  Polymer Vision is not alone: British company Plastic logic also plans to begin selling flexible displays later this year.

Clear Pixel Cameras
Cellphones can't waste battery life on high-powered flashes, so camera phones have a tough time handling low light.  New imaging sensors from Kodak address the problem with a different kind of pixel.  Today's cameras detect light with an array of red, green and blue pixels...  which each see just one color.  The new sensors add a panchromatic or "clear" pixel that detects all wavelengths of visible light.  With a mix of clear and color pixels, the new sensor is two to four times as sensitive to low light conditions reducing blur and fuzziness.  The first prototypes are expected early in 2008.

Intel Penryn Chips - High-K Transistors
We continue to expect processors to become smaller and more powerful, yet the industry knows that at 65 nanometers the circuitry lets electric current leak out, causing overheating and wastes power.  But Intel has once again managed to break through the 65 nanometer size to 45nm.  They have largely done this by replacing silicon dioxide with a hafnium-based high-k insulator.  The new Intel Penryn chips will soon be followed by rival 45nm chips from AMD.


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