Light code may reduce road rage by helping drivers be polite
Tired of hearing about road rage? Afraid you might fall prey to the bodiless beast one day? Well, have no fear. Scott Geller from Virginia Tech and Jerry Beasley from Radford University, both in southwest VA, have designed the Road Rage Reducer. "We are in the final phases of preliminary testing of the device," Geller says, "and plan to involve an entire community in a field study of the Road Rage Reducer within the next few months." The Reducer uses a small, unobtrusive system of light codes that allow drivers to communicate niceties to one another. For example, a person could flash blue for "I'm sorry," or green for "Please." The team is currently testing whether to have different colors for each word or flash one color a specific number of times for each message. "Widespread dissemination of the meaning behind the code will result in the Road Rage Reducer's requiring only a few seconds and one to two glances to receive the messages," Geller says. The system is currently in patent review. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.†
New architecture for electronic systems design
To address the multidimensional challenges of today's electronic systems design market, PADS Software, Inc. (Marlborough, MA) launched a new architecture, Latium. "We believe that the current CAD methodology must be replaced with a Computer Integrated Design (CID) methodology that supports the multi-domain constraints being placed on the physical design implementation," says Richard Almeida, vice president of marketing at PADS. The company says Latium is the first CID platform that can create an integrated approach to design and support Internet-enabled solutions. Latium's Electronic Performance Support System is context sensitive and uses embedded HTML help to provide assistance based on the current operation in process. The system scanner technology has a geometry engine that calculates usable areas for application processes by fast clipping the entire database into malleable sections. All of the company's future solutions will be based on this new architecture, specifically designed to meet the designer's challenge of faster circuit speeds, smaller product form factors, and devices with higher pin counts and densities. Call: 1-800-554-7253
Design drives machine tools
STEP Tools, Inc. (Troy, NY) will develop software and databases for an integrated design-to-manufacturing system that allows numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools to be controlled by product design data. The project, Model Driven Intelligent Control of Manufacturing, won a $2M Advanced Technology Program Award from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Central to the project will be the development of a data-sharing system, an extension of the STEP and STEP-NC standards for design and manufacturing plan data that includes product definition, process characteristics, and details about the cutting tool and related fixtures in a database. The company plans to put more "intelligence" in the machine tool controllers, enabling them to generate the necessary tool path and cutting instructions directly from a STEP model and process the information in the same database. Over a three-year period, the project will develop a prototype integrated data-sharing system for design-to- manufacturing, incorporating information such as product definition and set-up requirements in the shared database. STEP plans to bring together the vendors of CNC machine tools and CAD/CAM systems to help bridge the existing technical gaps. E-mail: email@example.com. ††
With a little help from friends, you could build a supercomputer
Want a supercomputer? Just network your PC to a bunch of your friends! That's basically what researchers did at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY). To create theirs, researchers linked a cluster of 256 Intel Pentium III microprocessors with the largest hardware switch ever assembled and new control software written at Cornell. The result was the largest tightly coupled system to date and, according to the University, the most cost-effective supercomputer around. Why? Because the system is built entirely with off-the-shelf components. The AC3 Velocity Cluster is made up of 64 rack-mounted Dell Poweredge 6350 servers, each incorporating four Pentium III chips and running the Windows NT operating system. The servers are mounted in racks of eight and communicate with one another at 100 megabytes per second through a cluster switch made by Giganet Corp. (Concord, MA). The system runs at a speed of 122 gigaflops, or in layman's terms, it can perform 122 billion arithmetic operations per second while keeping track of the decimal point. Cluster systems can be assembled for about one-fourth to one-fifth that of a traditional supercomputer, Cornell says. FAX: 607-255-5373.