Scientists at Siemens Corporate Research have developed a prototype system that enables one to access e-mail messages or World Wide Web pages using any touch-tone telephone, including a cellular phone. For those away from the office, or with no laptop readily available, the system promises to fill one of the last communications gaps. Called DICE (Delivering Information in a Cellular Environment), the system uses a computer algorithm to analyze e-mail and HTML documents, then play them back as audio. Siemens has three patents pending for the special algorithm that also analyzes the format and layout elements of a document to convey not only a document's text, but also its structure. In this way, even highly structured HTML documents can be converted to an audio format--without confusing the listener. To use DICE, one dials up a service provider, then, using the touch-tone keypad, accesses web pages from a list of selected bookmarks, or retrieves e-mail. For many tasks, Siemens says, it's sufficient to press a few keys and then simply listen. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
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