Call it a Tweance
Twitter will officially jump the shark on October 30. That's when psychic Jayne Wallace, sponsored by Angels Fancy Dress, will be holding a sance on Twitter to contact four beloved artists (chosen by vote among the twitterati). Twitter users can send Wallace their questions via Twitter, and she will tweet the reply if any.
The four lucky stiffs that Wallace will attempt to contact are Michael Jackson, Kurt Kobain, River Phoenix, and perhaps lending a certain air of dignity to the proceedings William Shakespeare. Surprisingly, Leonardo da Vinci did not make the cut. It's a shame, because he is arguably one of the world's earliest and most famous technology geeks, and would no doubt have loved to participate if it were possible.
Those wondering about the qualifications of the psychic should know that Wallace has been a natural clairvoyant since the age of seven, according to an article in UK tabloid The Sun. Indeed, Wallace has held at least one sance for that very paper, in which a reality TV star contacted her dead mother. In any case, the tweance should make for a delightfully spooky Halloween for all involved.
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Interactive Walls Control Electronic Devices
How would you like to control your room's lighting, temperature, and even sound system by tapping on the wallpaper? It would be a development platform even Martha Stewart could lvoe, and the Living Wall project, led by Leah Buechley at MIT's Media Lab, is working on making it a reality. The secret? Magnetic and conductive paints.
The paints let the team create circuitry in interesting designs on paper. The project uses those in combination with inexpensive temperature, brightness and touch sensors, LEDs and Bluetooth. By touching various parts of the paper, you can talk to devices nearby. Touch a flower to turn on a lamp, for example, or a triangle to set the thermostat so that heaters start when the room drops below a certain temperature.
The wallpaper is composed of steel foil put between layers of paper coated with magnetic paint. Then pleasing motifs, such as flowers and vines, are painted onto the paper using conductive paint. The designs form circuits, to which the cheap sensors are attached. "It really is just a sheet of paper, and could be produced with existing printing and construction methods," Buechley explains. Best of all, the circuitry runs at only 20 volts, drawing maybe 2.5 amps when fully loaded, so it's not dangerous...unless, of course, you let a colorblind techie choose the tones.
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Google Android Can Tell You Where to Go
Google's Android smart phone software learned a new trick: giving directions. The search engine giant is adding Google Maps Navigation to new versions of the software. Users will enjoy real-time, turn-by-turn directions within cell phones that feature the new version of Android.
Additional product features include speech recognition and a visual display that uses Google's archive of street photographs. According to Google, the addition of the company's four-year-old navigation product to its Android software was the improvement most requested by users. By adding the navigation feature, Google added GPS companies like Garmin and TomTom to its growing list of competitors.
Users of Android 2.0 will experience the benefit. Development tools for this version of Google's smart phone software have already been unveiled, but the company had no word on when Android 2.0 itself would be available, directing such queries instead to cell phone manufacturers and wireless carriers. The navigation feature, which will be limited to driving directions in the US at first, will come free with the software and, at least at this time, will not be serving ads.
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