That's Not My Cell Phone, it's My Ultrasound Device
Computers have gone from room-sized to pocket-sized (and smaller) in a few short decades. They're not the only devices susceptible to that kind of miniaturization. At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt unveiled a device certain to make people stop and stare: a pocket-sized ultrasound scanner.
Dubbed the Vscan, the white device apparently folds in the middle like a flip-phone. The top half contains the screen, while the bottom half is for the control keys. Noting that the scanner is about the same size as a BlackBerry, Immelt attributed the device to Moore's Law. Two to three years ago, to get an ultrasound scanner with the same power, you'd need a console-sized machine costing $250,000.
Although Immelt never revealed the price of the pocket-sized scanner, he told the audience that he envisioned its use in Africa, helping health care providers determine, for example, if an unborn baby is head-down or breech. “This could be the stethoscope of the twenty-first century,” he pointed out. The device is expected to be available sometime next year.
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Barnes and Noble Unveils Nook eBook Reader
Move over, Amazon Kindle; Barnes and Noble just unveiled its own eBook reader. Dubbed the Nook and due out in late November, the reader not only looks stylish, but it does a number of things the Kindle can't. For example, in addition to its black-and-white eInk screen, it features a second, color touchscreen across the bottom – mainly used for selecting books by their covers.
The Android-powered device supports both WiFi and AT&T 3G – though strangely enough, by some reports the WiFi only works in B&N stores. The Nook charges from nothing to full in 3.5 hours, and that charge lasts for up to 10 days if you turn the wireless off – a few days shy of the Kindle's 14. If the reader's 2 GB of internal storage isn't enough for you, you can use the microSD expansion slot. If you like a little music with your reading, you'll love the Nook's MP3 player and 3.5 millimeter headphone jack.
Aside from the specs, the Nook boasts some other interesting features. It supports bookmarking, making notes, and highlighting passages, as you would with an ordinary book. It also lets you lend out books to your friends for up to two weeks with the “LendMe” feature. Your friends don't need a Nook to borrow from you, either; the feature works with other e-readers, cell phones, and computers. If you happen to leave your Nook somewhere, you can even pick up where you left off on your iPhone or BlackBerry, with all of your marks intact. If you want one, expect it to set you back $259, about as much as a Kindle.
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Inventors Win Prizes at UK Show
Plenty of creative thinkers labor quietly in their garages and basements, hoping to come up with the next great invention. The British Invention Show, held last week in London, brought many of them out of their labs to show off their brain children and compete for awards. Some of them are so clever they make you slap your forehead wondering why nobody ever thought of this before.
Take David Graham's creation, for example. The industrial design post graduate came up with the idea to attach recyclable cardboard wheels and handles to the boxes of large purchases such as televisions and kitchen appliances – and knew he was on to something when he stopped in the restaurant of a big London store, and received a round of applause from the staff. The invention won a double gold medal at the show.
Other ideas presented at the show are not only useful, but just plain fun. Tired of misplacing your dish towels in the kitchen? With the magnetic towels presented at the show, once you're done drying dishes with them you can just throw them at the fridge; they'll stick. Or are you so exhausted from work you wish your bath was already waiting for you? Fredy Vasilev came up with a system to control your bath with an iPhone. It lets you choose the fill and temperature levels; all you have to do when you get home is shed your clothes and relax. Lots of other inventors won prizes; the show's web site has the full list.
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