Product News

Product News

by / June 30, 1999
Signs of the Times
People who are blind or visually impaired have difficulties navigating through cities since they are denied the ability to read street and building signs or use maps to orient themselves.

Talking Signs solves this problem by providing a repeating, directionally selective voice message emanating from the sign. The message is sent from a transmitter mounted to walls, sign posts or other strategic locations via invisible infrared light beams to hand-held receivers that decode the signal, delivering the voice message through a speaker or headset.

To use a Talking Sign system, the user scans the environment with the receiver. As individual signals are encountered, the user hears the messages. For example, upon entering a lobby, one might detect "information desk" when pointing the receiver directly ahead or "public telephones" when pointing to the right or "stairs to the second floor" when pointing to the left.

Talking Signs are currently being used in San Francisco, New York, Austin, Texas and Washington, D.C., and internationallly in Venice, Italy, and Yokohama, Japan.

Additional information is available by contacting Talking Signs Inc.Web site or at 888/825-5746.

Your Fax Has Been Sent

A new service,, allows users to receive faxes at their existing e-mail address. Sign up on eFax's Web site, and in seconds you'll get your personal fax number. Faxes received at the number are routed to eFax's servers, which convert the faxes to image files and e-mail them to you.

The faxes show up as attachments to e-mail messages. Users are issued a pin number to use when changing their account information or e-mail address. The service is free.

Additional information is available by contacting or at 650/470-6996.

Information Leadership in Government

Information Leadership: A Guide for Executives

provides a comprehensive guide for CEOs, CFOs and CIOs to gain control of the juggernaut of public-sector information technology and drive it toward strategic goals and objectives.

Topics include how information leaders gain credibility in their organizations; how to structure the internal information organization; finding and keeping the right human resources and skills for staying in or ahead of the technology mainstream; sound investment processes; involving all executives in information decision-making; measuring how information adds value to results government customers value most; and how leadership takes charge of the most valuable asset.

The guide is based on interviews with top government information leaders in the United States, Europe and Canada plus experience in working on information and technology challenges with governments at all levels.

Additional information is available by contacting PricewaterhouseCoopers Web site

Electric Commerce

Many Californians can now change their electric company using the Web. provides guaranteed savings of 1 percent to 15 percent on your current electricity bill with easy sign-up, billing and services online.

Radios on a consumer's electrical meter send realtime consumption data to, which is offering the service in California initially, and will extend it to two more states in the coming months.

Additional information is available by contacting or Daniel Todman at 650/513-0977.

Y2K Help Online

Virtually anyone who relies on computers or electronic devices may be affected by the year-2000 bug. Emergency systems such as CAD, CAM, CAE and PDM systems are not immune to risk, either.

Technology Transfer Inc., has a number of online resources to help users locate information and solutions.

Additional information is available by contacting Technology Transfer Inc. Web site or at 734/930-1922.

TerraUno on Terra Firma

WANmaker TerraUno is a network-access device optimized for connecting routers, bridges and other high-speed devices to E1 or T1 public-network services such as the Internet and Frame Relay.

TerraUno is easy to install and it's used as a plug-and-play analog modem, providing a line rate of 2.048Mbps (E1) or 1.544Mbps (T1). It measures 8 inches by 1.75 inches by 7.5 inches.

Additional information is available by contacting Larscom Web site or at 408/941-4000.

The Best Defense

Defender-DNA is a protective device that retains tissue samples from a would-be mugger. The Defender-DNA combines a 120-decibel siren and a DNA collection probe into what resembles a flashlight.

The device works by activating a loud siren when jabbed against an attacker. Simultaneously, the collection probe pierces the assailant's skin, collecting a sample which can be used to positively ID the attacker.

It measures 6.25 inches by 0.75 inches and weighs 3.2 ounces. It costs $38.

Additional information is available by contacting Defender-DNA or at 888/620-7860.

But Does PAM Have a Sister ?

Oakland County, Mich., will use two Probation Automated Management (PAM) systems to increase officer productivity and defendant accountability.

The systems will provide an automated reporting system for felony and misdemeanor defendants released from the county's criminal justice system.

PAM allows defendants to report via a kiosk utilizing biometrics identification for security and a touch-screen monitor for the defendant interface. PAM will be available to all offenders in the Oakland County criminal justice system prior to or after adjudication.

The system will be funded through payments made by the defendants during the required routine interview process.

Additional information is available by contacting AutoMon Corp. Web site or at 800/539-0048.


If you have a comment about a product or service you are using -- or have a suggestion for a product news item -- please email Kaveh Ghaemian or fax 916/932-1470 with the details. Include your phone number for verification and note whether we may publish your comments.

The prices listed were the most accurate single-unit figures available at press time. Please contact vendors for current prices.