In an effort to increase safety and efficiency, the San Jose Fire Department is using V-Track, an automatic vehicle locator. V-Track's monitoring capabilities can significantly increase efficiency in dispatching and operations, improving response time. It can reduce vehicle operation costs, unnecessary mileage and unauthorized vehicle use, and enhance driver safety. Its GPS-based position can be accurately measured anywhere, 24 hours a day. The system's built-in database allows administrators to review and maintain a complete history of emergency vehicle locations. It is well-suited for public safety -- police, fire and medical vehicles, armored cars, etc. Additional information is available by contacting Radio Satellite Integrators Inc. at 310/787-7700.
E-Mail Wherever You Are | The BlackBerry is a hand-held device that allows users to wirelessly send and receive e-mail. The BlackBerry incorporates a 32-bit Intel 386 processor, 2MB Intel Flash memory, integrated wireless modem, full keyboard, triple-DES encryption technology and e-mail organizer software. It features a two-watt transceiver, integrated internal antenna, full keyboard and LCD display. It measures 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches by 0.93 inches, and operates on one AA battery. Additional information is available by contacting Research In Motion at 519/888-7465.
Where the LAN Is | Portable Surveyor lets a CardBus-enabled laptop computer function as a full-featured LAN analyzer, providing network engineers and managers with a conveniently portable tool. Portable Surveyor consists of Shomiti's Windows-based Surveyor and Expert Software, plus a custom 10/100BaseT CardBus network interface and driver that provides comprehensive error counters and the ability to capture errored packets. Additional information is available by contacting Shomiti Systems Inc. at 408/437-3940.
Where Everything and Everyone Is | CensusCD Blocks provides complete demographic and housing data as well as map boundaries for all 7 million-plus census blocks nationwide, accessible directly from a CD-ROM with mapping software.According to the company, users can quickly and easily see demographics at the most granular level of census geography. It integrates detailed population and housing information with TIGER map boundaries, detailing every land and water block in the country.
It provides a cost-effective solution for government, business, library and academic users who need instant access to statistics and map boundaries at a level more detailed than mere ZIP code or block group data. CensusCD Blocks includes complete software for non-GIS users, giving them thematic mapping, query capability and statistical tools. Additional information is available by contacting GeoLytics Inc. at 800/577-6717.
Light at the End of the Bill | The Office of the State Attorney in Gainesville, Fla., is saving more than $20,000 a year in energy costs -- a reduction of 76 percent of its electric bill -- with a controllable electronic ballast retrofit incorporating load shedding and daylight harvesting buildingwide. The system's IBEX monitoring system, by Alerton Technologies Inc., allows managers to monitor energy consumption and demand.
"Load management, which is the modification of energy usage patterns, historically has focused on interruptible loads such as air conditioners and hot-water heaters," said Joseph Desmond, president and CEO of Electronic Lighting. "But when incorporated as a building lighting strategy, facility managers can monitor demand or energy prices as they rise and then gradually dim down the lights by up to 30 percent while remaining unnoticeable to the occupants." Additional information is available by contacting Electronic Lighting Inc. at 303/750-5548.
Fingered | Bank of America has initiated a fingerprint-based smart card bio-metrics program that provides users with access to online banking services. To enroll, users store their online banking login ID, passcode and fingerprint on a chip attached to their Bank of America smart card.
To access banking services, users insert their smart card into a portable smart card reader, and then insert the device into a computer's diskette drive. Lastly, the user places a finger on a small scanning device attached to the PC. The biometrics software matches the fingerprint image from the scanner against the image already stored on the smart card's chip. Additional information is available by contacting Bank of America at 415/622-0870.
Outer Space to Disk Space | Vexcel's Direct Capture System (VxDCS) allows satellite or other high-rate data streams to be captured directly onto computer disks for processing, storage, retransmission, distribution via networks or transferring data to archive media. NASA is using VxDCS in ground stations receiving satellite transmissions. The system consists of Silicon Graphics' Origin computer, Ciprico RAID and Vexcel's PCI-DIF boards. VxDCS can capture data at speeds in excess of 320Mbps. Additional information is available by contacting Vexcel Corp. at 303/444-0094.
Sit, Lassie! Now, Defrag My Hard Drive | Scientists at the D21 Lab at Sony have developed four-legged robot prototypes that fulfill the Japanese fascination with machines. The Japanese electronic giant claims that pet robots exhibit human-like intelligence and hold the possibility of being cared for and accepted into our families and in our homes. The architecture of the robots is based on appendage components that can be easily removed and replaced to change the shape and function of the robot. Built into each hardware module is embedded data that specifies the modules structure, function and position.
The modular software components can be interchanged to change the behavior and movement patterns of the mechanical "pet." Software programs would allow the robot to act as a pet or friend, and sound and image recognition programs would make it possible to do all kinds of stuff, Sony said. The robots use Aperios, Sony's operating system, MIPS 64bit RISC processor, 8MB of RAM and PC Card Type II -- two slots. Additional information is available by contacting Sony.
If you have a comment about a product or service you are using -- or have a suggestion for a product news item -- please e-mail Kaveh Ghaemian or fax 916/932-1470 with the details. Include your phone number for verification and note whether we may publish your comments.