Government Technology selected the 25 most interesting products of 1997 from the pages of this year's product news. The selection was wholly subjective, based on what was unusual, innovative and potentially useful to our readers. If you know of an interesting product we haven't covered, contact Product News Editor Kaveh Ghaemian at 916/932-1300.

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Urban Simulation (JULY)

Urban planners, city designers, developers, investors and government agencies can gain a clear understanding of a project's progress at any stage in the construction with Urban Simulation technology from Coryphaeus Software Inc. and Silicon Graphics.

Urban Simulation allows users to evaluate projects by "flying" anywhere in the scene to see what it looks like and, if necessary, change the location, shape or size of objects and spaces.

"Urban Simulation is democratizing urban planning and construction, making it easy for decision-makers and anyone to see and understand before the building or funding commitments are made," said John Murphy, Coryphaeus' president.

The system was recently used by California's transportation engineers to examine various designs for a proposed San Francisco Bay Bridge.

The system uses Coryphaeus Software's MetroSim Urban Simulation and Silicon Graphics Onyx2.

For additional information, contact Coryphaeus Software Inc., 985 University Ave., Suite 31, Los Gatos, CA 95030. Call 408/395.4537.

Also contact Silicon Graphics, 2011 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA. 94043-1389.

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Traffic Control Live (MARCH)

Traffic in 16 separate Los Angeles locations is monitored simultaneously with RGB Spectrum's SuperView 100 multi-video windowing system. The Los Angeles Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control Operations Center's large-screen display can show four live videos at once, a single video expanded to fill the screen or a mix of video and computer-generated graphics.

The system allows traffic engineers to locate and solve problems quickly.

For additional information, contact RGB Spectrum, 950 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501. Call 510/814-7000.

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The Hello Download (APRIL)

Scientists from IBM's Almaden Research Center have found a way to transmit data through the human body in a system dubbed the "personal area network."

A device smaller than a deck of cards creates an external electric field that passes a small current (one-billionth of an amp) through the body -- weaker than natural electrical fields already in the body -- transmitting data at a speed equivalent to a 2400-baud modem.

Using this technology, two people can exchange electronic business cards with a handshake. The device should be able to exchange data between personal information and communications devices carried by an individual, including cellular phones, pagers, personal digital assistants and smart cards.

For additional information, contact IBM Research. Call David Yaun at 914/945-3738.

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HazMat Hot Rod (AUGUST)

Massachusetts has deployed 15 Hazardous Materials Response Vehicles (HMRV) -- the most sophisticated in the nation -- to local fire departments. The deployment includes six new Technical Operation Modules (TOM) and nine new Operational Resource Units (ORU). "The strategic placement of these cutting-edge units will make these resources available anywhere in the commonwealth within an hour or less," said Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety Kathleen O'Toole.

TOM units carry communications and scientific equipment, including computer systems, fax machines, printers, radio, audio and video technology, mapping capability for Massachusetts and surrounding states, a computerized weather station and data on more than 162,000 chemicals. TOMs also feature a plume dispersion modeling tool that can assist in determining the direction and speed of a toxic vapor plume. A remote-controlled video camera atop a 34-foot mast helps personnel view the scene.

For additional information, contact the commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Public Safety, One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108. Call Charles McDonald at 617/727-7775 x507.

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Virtual Touch (JUNE)

Prosthetic technology has come a long way from the days of wooden legs, hooks and