The Vertical Commute

Forget about Corvette, Ferrari, Lamborghini and other boring modes of transportation. Skycar, developed by Moller International, is a personal transportation vehicle, that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter and flies horizontally like an airplane. It features eight engines, and has two airframe parachutes in case of catastrophic failure. It has only two pilot controls, and much of the guidance system is computer-operated.

Skycar carries two passengers, cruises at 350+ mph at 15 miles per gallon, will climb at 7,800 feet per minute and go 900 miles on a tank of automobile gasoline. It requires a 35-foot diameter landing pad, and has a low noise level.

For additional information contact Moller International, 1222 Research Park Drive., Davis, CA 95616. Call 916/765-5086.

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Virtual Touch

Prosthetic technology has come a long way from the days of wooden legs, hooks and braces. NovaCare Inc.'s Sabolich Research Center in Oklahoma has developed two new technologies to help amputees feel hot and cold and sense pressure through their artificial limbs.

For example, a mother who has lost both arms can check the temperature of the water before bathing her child. As she dips the artificial hand into the water, sensors in the hand deliver an electrical signal to her upper arm, where it is felt as warm, cold or hot.

Pressure sensors deliver vibrations to the undamaged portion of the upper limb, allowing those with electrically operated hands to sense how hard they are grasping an object. The faster the vibration, the tighter the grip. Patients easily learn to interpret the signals, says the company. Sense of Feel is also useful in lower extremities, where amputees can sense toe and heel pressure and thus improve balance.

The technology is not yet available to the general public, but is in beta testing.

For additional information contact NovaCare Sabolich, 4301 North Classen, Oklahoma City, OK 73118. Call Marge Pittenridge at 800/522-4428. Internet: .

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Total Access

The Nokia 9000 Communicator combines digital cellular phone, cellular data and fax modem, personal e-mail, Internet terminal and personal organizer. It provides up to 180 minutes of talk, fax, or data time, or 35 hours of standby. It has 8MB RAM, and data remains safe even if the battery runs down completely. Price is approximately $1,000.

For additional information contact Nokia Corporate Communications, 2300 Valley View Lane, Suite 100, Irvine, TX 75062. Call 972/257-9573.

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Portable Bomb Sniffer

K9s may soon get a break. The GVD6 portable Graseby Explosives Vapor Detector can help officials find bombs and explosives. The system, contained in a briefcase, uses ion mobility spectroscopy technology and is well suited for law enforcement and airport security.

For additional information contact JGW International Ltd., 10640 Main Street, Suite 200, Fairfax, VA 22030. Call John O'Neil at 703/352-3400.

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Dolphins Use Touchscreen Kiosks

Dolphins at Sea Life Park in Hawaii are using an underwater touchscreen -- developed by Carroll Touch -- to interact with computers, giving researchers a firsthand opportunity to study these intelligent mammals.

The system includes an infrared beam grid mounted on a tank window and a monitor screen that faces the dolphins through the window. Infrared beams projected through the tank window are directed parallel to the window by four 45-degree mirrors. When a dolphin's snout interrupts the infrared beams, the touch is detected by the infrared beam grid and relayed to a Macintosh computer.

Carroll Touch has a special Web page devoted to the dolphin touchscreen at .

For additional information contact GTT Communications Inc., 5524 Bee Cave Road, Building L-2, Austin, TX 78746. Call Jean Gardner at 512/347-1010.

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Secure Borders

International border