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There's no place like E-HOME.

In the future, your 'stuff' will know you better than you know yourself

Throughout the pages of this special edition of Tooling & Production, we've been talking about the future of the metalworking industry. Fascinating and inspiring advances that will make work easier, more productive, and safer.

Yet to live life fully, it can't be filled simply with work--especially considering that with medical advances, we will live longer, healthier lives. In the next 50 years, when we leave the office (assuming that our office is not at home--News week predicts that nearly 35 million people will be working from home by 2004), we'll return to the leisure life

I, robot

A compact personal robot that responds to sound is offered by Probotics Inc, Pittsburgh, PA. With a string of claps, Cye-sr (sound response) can be directed to carry coffee and doughnuts to the dining room or to vacuum the carpet using its optional wagon or vacuum attachments.

To send Cye-sr to a destination, clap to indicate where you'd like it to go. For example, use two claps to send it to the kitchen, three claps to send it to the living room, and one clap to come back to its home base.

Meet George Jetson

A familiar pop culture image is cartoon-character George Jetson's flying automobile. Thanks to Moller Int'l, Davis, CA, Mr Jetson's flying automobile could go into mass production in less than a decade.

A true car of tomorrow, the four-seat M400 Skycar will offer drivers safe vertical takeoff and landing and speeds of up to 350 mph. It can climb at a rate of 7800 feet/min and fly for nearly 900 miles on a full tank of gas (unleaded, by the way, at 15 mpg). A computer actually does the flying; the driver need only direct the Skycar in the direction she wants to go.

Safety counts, and the M400 includes eight engines. One or more can fail and the Skycar will operate safely. It also has three independent computers for flight management. One computer is required for flight. And if everything possible goes wrong, the Skycar can deploy two airframe parachutes.

Interconnected living

The notion of transmitting messages to intelligent buildings is only a few years away. High-tech industry execs were heralding the coming age of home networking technologies at the 2000 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in December 1999.

Microsoft Corp has jumped in the game with its Microsoft Home, located on the company's Redmond, WA, campus. The concept home features real environments, such as a kitchen, family room, home theater, and den. Family members can let themselves in the front door without putting down their grocery bags, for example. The home even allows its occupants to customize music playlists, control lighting levels, or see who's home from any room in the house. The home is controlled by an easy-to-navigate and secure home web site, allowing people to send information to their car from inside the house, as well as find out what's going on at home when they're out.

What's that on the wall?

Your TV will give you space to spare. Switzerland-based ReVox has introduced its first 42" plasma television, the E-430, which hangs on the wall like a picture frame with a depth of only 2 1/4". A replaceable bezel allows for custom colors or wood veneers as options to the standard brushed satin aluminum frame. Suggested retail price: $15,995.

Cloud city

One day you might land your Skycar on the landing platform of your 12-story SkyPad.

Designed by Fritz Myer, product designer/electronic architect of Skypad Technologies Int'l, Grand Rapids, MI, the glass, steel, and concrete SkyPad will be available in heights from 4 story "tree-top living" to 12 stories tall. Models feature a "talking elevator," emergency stairways, three upper levels, open roof skydeck with hot-tub, three bedrooms, two and a half baths, home-office, modern kitchen, push-button controls, designer lighting, home theater, emergency power back-up, energy saving controls, 170 mph wind speed and 8.0 earthquake handling, and a ground level pavilion with entrance foyer; storage, and large garage.


If you don't like what your family is watching on the wall, you can sit back and watch your favorite show on the Eye-Trek. Developed by Olympus America Inc, Melville, NY, the sunglasses-sized television weighs 3.8 oz, has 240,000 pixels, and essentially mimics a 62" television screen seen at 6 1/2 ft. Its see-around design permits wearers to maintain peripheral vision while totally submerged in a potent audio-visual experience.

Call in the laundry

Ariston Digital, Fabriano, Italy, has launched one of the first household appliances capable of communicating through the Internet and the mobile phone. Margherita can be remotely controlled allowing its owner to check the status of the machine on a dedicated web page. The appliance can be switched on and receive e-mail and short text messages by phone. It can also communicate with the Digital Service Center, which provides assistance around the clock, 365 days a year. Another advantage is the possibility to directly download the wash-cycle software program upgrades, thus effectively resulting in a new model each time. Plus, no more waiting around for the repairman to arrive.

3-in-1 camera

During the holidays, you won't have to fumble with two or three cameras to record the action. Sony Electronics Inc, Park Ridge, NJ, has introduced the Digital 8 Handycam camcorder with Memory Stick media which gives the user the ability to capture, create, and share digital still images. It includes a built-in color printer that prints business card-sized color photos on the spot, like an instant camera.

The bionic man

In January a biomedical engineering team announced development of an artificial vision system providing independent mobility to blind people. The system, reflecting more than 30 years in development work by the Dobelle Institute, New York, NY, enables a totally blind person to achieve visual acuity of about 20/400, in a narrow "tunnel."

The "Dobelle Eye" consists of a sub-miniature television camera and an ultrasonic distance sensor, both of which are mounted on a pair of eyeglasses. The sensors connect through a cable to a miniature computer, which is worn in a pack on a person's belt. After processing the video and distance signals, the computer uses sophisticated computer-imaging technology, including edge-detection algorithms to simplify the image eliminating "noise." When stimulated, each electrode produces one to four closely spaced phosphenes, which have been described as resembling "stars in the sky."

The computer package employed in the initial system was the size of a large bookcase and weighed several thousand pounds. After six generations of improvement over the last 21 years, the external electronics package has now been miniaturized so it is about the size of a dictionary and weighs approximately ten pounds, including batteries.
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Author:Tennant, Thomas O
Publication:Tooling & Production
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2000
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