Firefox prompts you for updates every 15 minutes. Why can’t your car be more like that?
…[A]n automotive software architecture [is being] developed by European researchers to keep vehicles up to date with the latest technology.
Developed over two and a half years by a consortium of research institutes, software companies, vehicle manufacturers and parts suppliers, the architecture represents a fundamental building block for an intelligent car able to reconfigure and update itself autonomously, as well as communicate with other devices, such as the driver’s mobile phone or PDA.
Much as the software on a personal computer connects to the internet to download and install updates, the DySCAS architecture allows automotive software to automatically download patches and improvements whenever the vehicle is in range of an accessible wireless hotspot – in the owner’s garage, for example, or even in a public parking lot. It could then download new maps for the navigation system, update the entertainment system to play new music formats, or even adjust engine timing based on more fuel efficient settings supplied by the manufacturer.
A little better fuel efficiency — well, a lot better — and we’ll be good to go. In a few years, the researchers say.
[Image: FlickrMobile by Leo Reynolds]
Research is being carried out in my home town to see whether Bluetooth wireless technology is actually good for something more practical than spamming strangers at the pub with crude LOLcat pictures. [image by kalshassan]
In fact, the UK communications watchdog organisation Ofcom predicts Bluetooth and similar wireless technologies could save lives. For example, heart attack patients could be fitted with in-body sensors which would remind them when to take their medications (if it noticed they hadn’t already), or put in a call to a doctor or the ambulance service if it detected the patient had collapsed.
Hardly an unfamiliar idea to science fiction habitués – but it’s interesting to note how real-world experience with these sorts of technologies has shown us the potential flaws that the fiction missed. I mean, if I was relying on wireless technology to keep me alive, I’d want a much more reliable uptime rate from my ISP’s DNS servers.
[Hat tip to Ed Ashby]
Exciting times in the world of electronics as phone company Nokia have designed a wearable, flexible phone. Resembling a normal handset folded in half, when fully unrolled it can be used as a keyboard but it can also be folded lengthways and widthways and curled into a bracelet to wear on the wrist.
Although current battery technology isn’t good enough to join this flexible technology revolution as improvements in nanowire batteries and even static electricity generating clothing could mean that in ten year’s time we wear our phone/mp3 player/personal computer on our sleeve and link up our headphones to it wirelessly.
[image and story via the Guardian]
Since 2002, the Wireless World Initiative (WWI) has been working on a number of user-centric wireless systems that integrate what is currently an extremely disjointed mess of networks and protocols. The five systems – SPICE, MobiLife, WINNER, E2R and Ambient Networks aim to provide a seamless wireless system that connects up all of a user’s gadgets and software in an integrated configuration that doesn’t impact on the usability for the user.
Science Daily has a good article on what ‘Bob the builder’ and ‘Bob the businessman’ might use this new technology for.
“Outside their front doors, the two Bobs wish each other a good morning and head their separate ways. On the train, the businessman watches the financial news on his palm pilot, while the builder tunes in his phone to his favourite digital radio channel and relaxes in the morning traffic to some classical music.”
Here in the UK the FON network is gradually reaching a point where people are aware of it. The company asks users to siphon off part of the wireless internet on their router and offer it up as a wireless node for other users. This can be done in the ‘Linus Torvald’ way of linux and be free or in the ‘Bill Gates’ way, giving the router owners a small cutback.
Back when the idea first came around there was little traction – the software wasn’t compatible with most routers and ISP. Meanwhile, most wireless nodes were incompatible with each other and you had to shell out a load of money to use each one. Now with ISPs like BT coming on board with the idea and many other wireless networks springing up all the time, it looks like much of the UK will have wireless access before too long. With content from the BBC becoming freely available over wireless nodes, it looks like complete connectivity throughout the country will be a reality sooner rather than later. Use this handy Londonist map to find free wireless points in London. By making the internet more freely available and decentralised we can use web 2.0 products that are less dependent on infrastructure, encouraging non-profit web solutions that benefit everyone.
[via BBC News, photo by Londonist via Matt From London]